Can Solar Panels Perform in Adverse Weather Conditions?

Are you looking to invest in solar energy and concerned if it will be efficient even on cloudy days? 

Do solar panels work on cloudy days? Worry no more because we have the entire analysis.

When weather rolls into the area, homeowners looking to go solar wonder how well solar panels work on cloudy days. 

Some of the questions often asked to include; how much energy can my solar system generate during cloudy days? What about rainy days? Will my solar system still produce solar energy in overcast conditions? And what about at night; can solar panels work at night?

Despite solar panels needing sunlight to produce energy, it’s important to learn how cloudy conditions can affect the efficiency of solar energy generation. In addition, factors such as partial shade and tree coverage can impact your solar system power output. This is the only disadvantage of solar panels on roofs hence a need for regular checks and maintenance.

In short, solar panels still work in cloudy weather. They just might generate less power, depending on the quality and efficiency of your panels.

Your outdoor solar panel’s performance and efficiency matter. That’s why you want to know if solar panels will work in adverse weather conditions, such as cloudy days, rainy days, or snowy days. This is an important question to ask your solar consultant, as these weather conditions can affect your PV module energy production, and as a result – dampen the return on investment for your solar panels.

Let us examine:

  • Do solar panels work on cloudy days?
  • How well do solar panels work on cloudy days
  • Do solar panels work on rainy days?
  • What is the solar performance on snowy days?
  • What you should do if you live in a cloudy or rainy environment
  • How to Store Solar Energy to Use on Cloudy Days and at Night

Do Solar Panels Work on Cloudy Days?


(Source: SEIA)

The first thing you should know is that your solar panels will indeed perform in cloudy environments, during rain, and in the winter if and when there is snow. 

How well do solar panels work on cloudy days? They work but the downfall is that they will have lower performance levels.  What matters is how much solar light is being prevented from reaching the solar panels since solar panels need sunlight and solar radiation to function properly. 

For now, let’s explore by taking a closer look at how solar panels can perform better during each of these environmental conditions. You will understand how your solar energy system might be affected by the difference in adverse weather conditions, and the subsequent impact on solar panels efficiency.

How Well Do Solar Panels Work on Cloudy Days?

As long as the sun is up during daytime hours, and your solar panel is exposed to direct sunlight, your solar panels will work on cloudy days. However, the performance of the module will be reduced depending upon how much of the sun’s light is prevented from reaching the solar cell.

It is estimated that a solar panel will typically produce 10% to 25% of its rated wattage during a cloudy day. This does assume the clouds are obstructing a high amount of sunlight. Of course, a solar panel will most likely perform better during partly cloudy conditions, or when it is cloudy only for a short period.

It is important to note, solar panels may have times of increased efficiency during cloudy days. This is caused by a “silver lining” effect, which happens when the sun’s light passes over the edge of a cloud, which results in magnifying the sunlight. This in turn causes the solar panel to experience a temporary boost in performance and power output. Days with rain and snow can experience the same phenomenon as well.

Solar panels will work on cloudy days, just with less efficiency than on a clear and sunny day. That is why you should use batteries to store energy produced during sunny days so that you can use it at night. If you ask, ‘can solar panels work at night?’. Yes, they work at night using the energy accumulated during the day. Further, the extra energy can be sold to the grid. 

In addition, remember to apply some energy-saving tips that will help you maximize electricity usage while still saving. Having solar does not mean that you should have all the lights on when not in use, nor leave the electric appliances on all the time. Saving energy means that you will have more left to use on the days that the production is low.


(Source: Green Match)

Do Solar Panels Work on Rainy Days?

Similar to cloudy days, solar panels do also work in the rain but the efficiency is low. This assumes that while it is raining it is heavily clouded outside as well. If this is a sun shower for example, then solar panels may still perform fairly well with low obstruction.

Coincidentally, rain may also wash away built-up debris like dirt and dust that may hinder your solar panel’s performance over time in normal sunlight conditions. So, a little rain may help your solar panel efficiency.

Solar panels can work on a rainy day, with likely temporary hindered performance. 

What is the Solar Performance on Snowy Days?

During the winter season, there is a continuous accumulation of snow on the roof and outdoor solar panels. Once enough is accumulated, snow will vastly hinder the performance and efficiency of solar panels. If the glass window is covered in enough snow, sunlight cannot make it to the solar cell thus vastly decreasing or halting energy production altogether.

Did you know that cold conditions can improve your solar panel’s output? As with most electronics, the cold temperatures can improve performance. Once the temperature drops below 77 degrees F, which is standard for most solar panel ratings, their voltage increases. Although if it’s winter, then your PV array is most likely already producing less energy due to shorter daylight sun hours. 

While it’s snowing, module performance is usually slightly impacted, it’s only when snow piles up on the module that it prevents energy gathering by the solar cell.

However, clearing the module and having snow surrounding the area can reflect more light thus causing the solar panel to exceed its total standard output and effectively producing more power from the increased sunlight.

Solar panels will work on snowy days unless enough snow gathers upon the module and blocks sunlight.

Solar-Pros-and Cons

(Source: Electronics and You)

What You Should Do if You Live in a Cloudy or Rainy Environment

Note that when you go shopping for a solar panel, you will find that a solar array is designed and sized to consider your local weather patterns, sun hours, shade analysis, and more. That is why it’s important to connect with professional solar panels providers for advice according to your location. 

However, if you live in California, you are lucky to enjoy long sunny days, hence a favorable place to invest in solar. A solar energy system with all of these factors taken into account will perform just as well on an annual basis.

How to Store Solar Energy To Use on Cloudy Days and At Night

During days of peak sunlight, your solar panels generate more power than you need. This surplus power can be used to provide extra electricity on cloudy days or at night.

But how do you store this energy for future use? 

Solar batteries

When you have a solar battery in your residence, any excess electricity can be collected and used during hours of suboptimal sun exposure, including during the night and exceptionally cloudy weather.

So, Do You Need Electricity for Solar Panels?

Yes, you need electricity to balance when the solar system produces low energy such as the winter season. You should keep in mind that with a good net metering policy, the days of cloudy weather, rain, snow, or low sun hours will be balanced out through your electric company. Offsetting your energy usage seasonally will effectively keep your electric bill at zero or reduce by how many kWh your system can produce each year assuming it’s less than your total electric needs.

Now, the electricity prices forecast shows that electric prices are rising daily, solar panels come in to help you lower the bills. Another advantage is that you can earn money from the extra energy produced by your solar panels by selling them off the grid. Isn’t it amazing getting a check from your utility company instead of paying them?


(Source: Research Gate)

There You Have It; All The Information About Solar Panels Efficiency on Cloudy Days. 

Electricity prices forecast a continuous increase in electricity pricing. Therefore, each homeowner is looking to go solar in order to save money. Real time electricity prices are one of the stressors for US residents. Having your outdoor solar panel can be a great saver on your electric bills

Do solar panels perform on cloudy days? If this is your worry, we believe the article has shown you the possibility of solar performance in adverse environments. Some solar panels are also specifically built to perform in low irradiance environments. So, if you live in a northern sun hour zone that receives less solar radiation, then it may be beneficial to consider installing modules.

Most homeowners looking to go solar ask,’ do you still need electricity if you have solar panels?’ We have explained above that net metering enables your home to remain connected to the electric grid, your system will feed excess energy produced to your utility and will generate credit for you. Can solar panels work at night? Yes, the extra energy stored can serve you at night and also when there is a power outage. 

Now that you know solar panels can work even when the sun isn’t directly shining and that there are ways to store your energy for times your panels aren’t producing electricity, you may be more interested in installing your system.

As you go solar, make sure to look at Enlightened Solar, a solar installation company with many years of creditable experience in Orange County, California. We can advise you and answer all the questions you may have on solar panel installation. Visit our website and let us give you a quote!

Our team will visit your home for an assessment to make sure that we advise you on the best possible solutions according to your consumption levels.

Contact us today!