Solar panels are a hot topic— in more ways than one! They literally work by collecting heat, and they’re also gaining popularity— in fact, 2.66 million Australian households now use solar power! As such, it comes as no surprise that when you’re thinking about installing solar panels, you picture bright and sunny days beaming their UV down and providing all the heating you need. But what about when it’s raining? Or cloudy? And what about overnight?
Our blog gives an overview of how solar panels work and determines whether or not they can work when the sun won’t come out to play. For further information or personalised advice, contact our friendly and knowledgeable team at Supreme Heating today.
How Do Solar Panels Work?
Solar panels collect the energy from the sun’s UV rays and turn that energy (that we can’t use) into power that we can use. They do this by converting light into direct current (DC) power. The inverter in the solar panels takes that DC power and converts it into alternating current (AC) power, which is the power most households run on. And there you have it, perfectly useable power to help you watch TV, turn your lights on, and swim in a warm pool no matter the weather!
But seeing that solar panels work by using the sun’s energy, can they work even when the sun isn’t out?
Will Solar Panels Work in the Shade?
The short answer: Yes! While it’s best to place your solar panels where they will receive as much sunlight as they can, sometimes this is inconvenient or even impossible. The size of your roof and location of your home plays a part here, as do variable factors such as the direction of the sun, the time of day, and the season or time of year. When you’re installing solar panels, ensure they’re oriented so that they make the best use of the sun they have available to them.
Sometimes you can work with what throws shade on your solar, and sometimes you can’t. For instance, if you have a large tree on your property that looms over your roof and prevents it from receiving the full force of the sun’s energy, you can consider cutting it down. However, it may not be as simple or practical to make more drastic changes, such as moving to the other side of the country!
Will Solar Panels Work in Low Light?
Solar panels use particles of light known as photons to generate electricity, and solar panels only require a small number of photons to work. This means that your solar system is up and working early in the morning, when you’re (hopefully!) not up and working yet yourself.
Early in the morning and late in the evening, in those dawn and dusk periods all throughout the year, your solar panels will still work and collect the sun rays that they can. Solar production is certainly less at five o’clock on a July evening than it is at midday in the middle of January, but they do still work, and something is better than nothing.
Will Solar Panels Work on Cloudy or Rainy Days?
It may come as a surprise to learn that rain is actually helpful for your solar panels! This is because the rain washes away any dust and dirt that may have collected on the panels, giving them a good wash. That way, when the sun comes back out, it can get straight to work.
With that being said, while it’s actively raining and/or cloudy, your solar panels won’t be able to operate as efficiently as they do during full sun. According to a study conducted by The Environment and Energy Study Institute in the USA, solar cells operate at about 80% of their maximum output when the sun and its energy is hiding behind the clouds.
For the average household over a day or two this is no problem, but several cloudy days in a row can add up quickly. Adding a battery to your solar power system will allow you to store energy from sunny days, allowing you to use your power as normal when it’s looking dreary outside.
Interested in Solar Panels?
If you’ve been thinking about getting solar panels but the possibility of cloudy days, had you reconsidering, we hope this blog has helped you in your decision-making process! Our team at Supreme Heating know solar panels inside and out and would love to chat with you about how they can work for your home. To enquire about solar panels, speak with our friendly and knowledgeable team today.