How do solar panels work in bad weather?

A huge myth is that solar panels do not generate power on cloudy days. The maximum output of solar panels can be affected by how cloudy it is - intense dark clouds will affect the amount of UV rays that can come through, versus light and fluffy clouds, but your panels won’t stop working completely.

How will cloudy days in the UK affect solar panel performance?

On a partly cloudy day, your solar energy production can drop by 10% to 25%, depending on how many clouds are in the sky.

But something called the “edge of cloud” effect can actually intensify the sunbeam and can lead to greater energy output from your solar panels. The reflection of the passing cloud can focus more sunlight to the panels.

What is the best type of weather for solar panels to work in?

Cooler temperatures also affect the power generated from solar panels. Solar panels are much more efficient in cooler temperatures than in hot areas.

A solar energy study over in America has shown that solar panels in San Francisco generate similar power to Sacramento, despite San Francisco being a generally cooler area in California.

Fog has also been shown to produce better solar power generation due to the fact that the fog allows the sun to hit the solar panels at an obtuse angle and allows more sunlight to reach them.

This may seem counterintuitive from what you would think, but it is definitely good news for areas with overcast weather or colder climates.

Which is the best country for solar panels?

Solar panels will generate the most energy on a clear, sunny day, but cloudy or rainy weather won’t stop you from creating electricity.

A common misconception is that solar panels work better in hotter weather. Solar panels actually work by harnessing sunlight, and so panels are largely unaffected by changes in temperature.

In fact, the colder it is, the better the solar panels can perform. Places like Germany and cloudier American states like San Francisco generate more power than some of their warmer counterparts.

If it is too hot, the mechanics inside the solar panels can degrade over time, reducing their output. This means the UK is a great candidate for solar panels, with our lukewarm weather being kinder on your solar energy system.

How can I make sure my solar panels work in bad weather?

If you live in an area which frequently becomes dusty, debris can sit on your solar panels and affect their efficiency.

Make sure you clean your solar panels regularly to get the best output from them. Cleaning a solar energy system that hasn’t been cleaned for a long time can improve its performance by 10% or more.

In the UK, our rainy weather will do this for you! It’s a good idea to install your solar panels at an angle (either following the natural angle of the roof, or if you have a flat roof, installing tilted panels.) When it next rains, any dust or dirt will be washed away, making solar in the UK incredibly low-maintenance.

You can improve the output of your solar panels even more by adding optimisers to them. Installing an optimiser ensures that if one panel is affected by bad weather, the overall output of the solar energy system is not affected.

If your solar panels suddenly dip in performance and you don’t believe it’s because of the weather, it might be worth a maintenance check; call a solar energy specialist to make sure everything is in working order.

With Smart Energy, your panels will be under a 25 year warranty, so in the unlikely event anything does go wrong, we’ll be able to help you out, free of charge.

Should I be worried about my panels breaking in extremely bad weather?

In the case of extreme weather conditions, such as storms, hail, or lightning strikes, you might be concerned about your solar panels.

Storms usually do not affect solar panels, due to the panels being engineered to withstand bad weather events.

Solar panels have also been designed to withstand hail traveling at up to fifty miles per hour from the sky. The average speed hail travels in the UK is only twenty miles an hour, meaning it is extremely unlikely that panels will be damaged by hail.

In the rare event of a direct lightning strike on your solar panels, (the odds are less than one in a million) they are fitted with surge protectors, meaning your house or panels won’t catch fire.

And don’t worry - having solar panels on your roof doesn’t increase your home’s risk of getting hit by lightning!

Will snow affect my panels in the UK?

Heavy snow on top of your solar panels won’t damage them, but snow build-up might affect your energy output.

In the UK, there isn’t usually enough snow for this to be a problem. If you’re in a more precipitous area (it usually snows in the North of England in the wintertime) and your solar panels do start to build up, having them at a tilted angle will help snow fall off easily.

If your solar panels aren’t tilted, snow will usually melt quickly due to the panels’ dark colour.

In fact, on cold, clear days, a blanket of white snow on the ground will reflect even more sunlight onto your solar panels, generating even more energy for you.

In summary, the Great British weather will generally have a very minor impact on the performance and durability of your home solar energy system. Our milder climate and lack of extreme weather conditions actually lend themselves to solar power, which makes them an excellent energy choice for British homeowners.

Get in touch to find out more about making the smart choice & switching to solar energy for your home today - our team is happy to help!