Solar panels are sweeping the nation. In 2008, the United States had .34 gigawatts of solar power capacity. The country now has 97.2 gigawatts, enough to power 18 million homes.
Solar power is cheap and environmentally friendly. Despite its benefits, many people have questions about it. Perhaps the most common one is “Do solar panels work on cloudy days?”
To fully answer that question, you have to answer a couple of more. How do solar panels work? What can homeowners do to optimize their systems?
Get the facts and you can start saving money and energy today. Here is your quick guide to solar panels.
How Do Solar Panels Work?
Solar panels convert sunlight into direct current electricity. Panels contain individual cells with substances like silicon. Silicon contains electrons, subatomic particles that create an electric charge when they move.
Sunlight strikes the silicon, knocking its electrons free. They travel to metal plates that collect them and transfer them into wires. As they flow through the wires, they generate electricity.
But homes do not use direct current electricity. Panels contain a power invert that changes the direct current into alternating current. Wiring then takes electricity into the home so residents can use it.
Solar Panels and Cloudy Days
When the clouds are out, it may seem like the sun is not shining through. But ultraviolet radiation can penetrate through thick clouds and knock electrons in solar panel cells.
Solar panels do work best in direct sunlight. Yet they can produce 10 to 25 percent of their typical output on overcast days. This is enough to power appliances and turn on lights.
Solar panels can even produce power from streetlights and moonlight. It does not provide enough electricity to power an entire home, but it can be enough for small devices.
Solar Panels and Inclement Weather
A rainstorm is good for solar panels. Dust can build on their surface, preventing sunlight from entering into the silicon. Rain cleans the panels off.
You may need to clean your panels after a snowstorm. But after the snow melts, your panels will work fine.
Manufacturers test their systems for extreme weather conditions, including hurricanes and tornadoes. Installing a rooftop solar system does not increase the risk of a roof leaking or falling off.
Panels do work better in cooler climates. At 77 degrees Fahrenheit, electrons lie in a ground state. Once they receive energy, they enter the excited state and begin moving.
But the electrons are also expending energy that they could use to convert electricity. This means that panels should operate at 77 degrees or lower. You can install panels in hotter climates, but you should keep in mind that they won’t be at maximum efficiency.
Solar Storage and Net Metering
When your system is not producing power, it is storing power. Most solar systems contain battery storage. The electricity that you are not using goes to the batteries, and you can use power at any time you want.
If you select a system that does not have batteries, you can still get power at night. You can connect your home to the grid and receive electricity through conventional wiring.
You should engage in net metering. This involves sending your excess electricity to the power grid. Utility companies send you credits back, which you can use to pay for your electricity.
If you use solar storage, you may be able to move off the grid entirely. Net metering can reduce your electricity bills while giving you a constant supply of power.
How to Optimize Solar Panels
There are a few ways you can optimize your panels. Make sure they have good access to sunshine. If there is shade on your roof, trim the trees that cast it.
You do not need extensive maintenance for your panels. They last up to 30 years, and your batteries last five to 15 years.
Check to make sure your batteries are functioning. If they are not recharging, get replacements as soon as possible. Your system can operate without batteries, but you will have less power at night.
Inspect your panels to make sure there is no dust or mud on them. But leave them alone. Do not place corrosive substances on them.
If you don’t have a wide roof, you can place small panels on your walls and in your yard. This is a good option for homes that have a rooftop patio.
There are several types of solar panels. Monocrystalline panels are made with single-crystal silicon, giving electrons more room to generate electricity.
They have the highest efficiency, meaning you need fewer panels to create a lot of power. They are also the most expensive.
If monocrystalline is not an option for you, you can purchase polycrystalline or thin-film panels. You should pick one type and stick with it.
Your panels should produce enough power for all necessary operations. But you should still try to avoid using too much electricity. The less electricity you use during the day, the more you can store for the night and send to the grid.
So Do Solar Panels Work on Cloudy Days?
There are a lot of good questions about solar panels. How do they work? They incorporate conductive substances that react to sunlight and produce an electric current.
Do solar panels work on cloudy days? They do, though they are not operating at maximum efficiency. They also work during rainy days.
You can receive electricity at night through batteries and connections to the grid. To optimize your panels, put them in direct sunlight. Select monocrystalline ones that go on your roof.
Turn to expert solar contractors. Altair Solar offers the best services in Orange County. Contact us today.