Can Your Solar Panels Run on a Rainy Day?

November 12, 2021

If you live in Queensland, the Sunshine State, then you can probably see why installing solar panels is a good idea. But if you’re in the wetter parts of Australia, or the world for that matter, you might scratch your head when someone tells you that solar panels are a great option for you and your residence. Before we dive into the nitty gritty on why solar panels can work just fine on a rainy day, let’s just get the basics out of the way.

Yes, solar panels can work in a rainy environment, and rain can actually benefit your solar energy system. Solar panels use both direct and indirect sunlight to generate power. While they are far more effective in direct sunlight, they can still produce sufficient amounts of energy using indirect sunlight, i.e., sunlight that is reflected or partially obscured by cloud cover. Rain can also be beneficial, because it not only washes away the dirt on your panels but also helps keep their temperature down, and as we know, solar panels operate best in cooler conditions. So that’s the short of it. If you live in rainy Tasmania or in any other part of the world where you get a lot, or even a decent amount of rain, you should still consider purchasing a solar PV system. It will still save you money in the long run. If you’re intrigued and would like to know more about how solar panels work in the rain and how clouds and increment weather affect their efficiency, read on!

How They Work – Solar Panels on Rainy Days

Since Solar Panels depend on the sun, any disruption to sunlight will cause disruptions to solar energy output. That’s just the way the technology works, and there is no way around it. But that does not mean that your expensive panels will become glorified roof tiles on a cloudy day.  On a clear sunny day, a solar panel’s output looks like a bell curve. Its production peaks around noon, and then drops back down again. Consider the following diagram:

On a typical sunny day, that is what you can expect your solar panel’s output to look like. Depending in when the sun rises and sets in your particular timezone, it will start producing in the morning and stop in the evening when the sun goes down.

A graph of solar output on cloudy days will be a lot more erratic. Though it will still peak at noon, you can expect to see spikes in production throughout the day as your panels are exposed to varying amounts of sunlight over time. A graph on a cloudy day may look more like this:

As you can see, though production still peaks at noon, you can expect to see it remain uneven throughout the day.

What Happens to Solar Panels When It Rains?

As we said before, your solar panels will still work on cloudy days. Sunlight makes its way through even the densest could cover, and onto your panels. However, its efficiency will be inevitably reduced. The amount of electricity your panels generate will depend on how dense the clouds are, and on how much sunlight is able to make it through. Production will be inconsistent at best and generally diminished overall. The good news, however, is that Prosun Solar offers some of the best solar panels available in Australia, and our panels are world renowned for their efficiency and durability.

Will You Run Out of Electricity on Rainy Days?

No. You will not. Mostly because even if you do not produce sufficient electricity on a rainy day, even if you don’t make enough solar energy to cover your daily usage, you’re still connected to the grid. This is required by law in Australia. Furthermore, through net metering, you can ensure that the energy you use from the grid will be much cheaper. When a customer produces excess solar energy through their solar panels, the excess amount is transferred to the grid. After a month, your utility supplier will either pay you for all the electricity you supply to the grid, or you can get electricity at a discounted rate from your utility supplier if you do not produce enough electricity to meet your own needs. Alternatively, you can always just install a battery storage system, which you can rely on when power output is low. A combination of a battery system and net metering is usually when it comes to energy independence. If your solar energy system cannot produce enough energy because of bad weather, you can always rely on the grid, which you have been supplying with solar power. And having a battery further increases your resilience and independence from the grid, should that be something you desire. Another advantage of a battery storage system is that it will keep your lights on during power outages. If for some reason your local grid fails, you won’t have to follow suit and go dark. A battery system, if used properly, can sufficiently power your vital appliances, like your laptop, phone, internet, and light. Usage is key, and the less you use, the longer your battery will last. Nonetheless, this is a good tool to have in your kit.

Get the Most from Your Solar Panels During Rainy Seasons

The best way to make the most of your solar panels is at the time of purchase and installation. How and where you install your panels is key. Should you choose Prosun Solar as your solar energy provider, our experts will help you install your panels in the best way possible for your local region at no additional cost. However, here are some tips to keep in mind when buying a solar panel system:

Best Go with Monocrystalline Panels:

Monocrystalline panels offer slightly improved performance in lower light conditions than polycrystalline panels. If you live in areas prone to heavy cloud cover, you will probably want monocrystalline panels.

Plan Ahead: Oversize Your System

If you are planning to live off grid, or if you are anticipating a lot of rainy days in your region, a larger system size may be a good option. This way, your panels will be able to compensate for drops in production.

Keep the Shadows Away!

Best not install your panels in areas that are prone to shadows. Prosun Solar’s teams conduct a ‘Shadow Analysis.’ We make evaluate all the potential sources of shade in an area and install your panels accordingly. As a rule of thumb, here are some things you want to keep in mind:

  1. Overhead water tanks.
  2. Trees
  3. Tall buildings in your vicinity.
  4. Light poles or streetlamps.

Find an area that gets no shade ideally, or barring that, the least amount of shade, and have your panels installed there.