Do solar systems work when its raining or cloudy?

Fast read

The solar system's sunlight affects how much energy it can create; on sunny days, more electricity is produced, while less is on overcast or rainy days. This goes for solar at night; without direct sun rays, the panels cannot convert energy into electricity.

The middle of the day, when the sun is at its most significant position, is typically when solar systems will create the most electricity.

Solar systems won't generally create electricity at night, though specific inverters might use a tiny amount. However, by storing extra electricity during the day and selling it back to the grid, solar storage systems and net metering can make solar systems sustainable at night.

Will my solar system produce electricity when there is little or no sun?

The sun irradiation on your panels will determine how much electricity comes out of them, no sun= no energy.

A solar panel’s purpose is to capture this sunlight, also known as photovoltaic energy, and convert it to direct current power. The natural current power is then routed through the system’s inverter and converted to alternating current administration, which most households use.

Therefore, your solar system will turn on automatically when the panel generates some solar electricity, usually about 6:00 or 7:00 in the morning as the sun rises.

Overall, a solar system will produce quite a bit less in the early hours of the morning; then, in the middle of the day, when you have the brightest sunlight, it will usually produce the most. Then, in the afternoon, renewable energy production slowly comes down again. So you will see an inverted U-shaped curve in solar energy production. 

Some of the inverter models will consume a little bit of electricity during the night, but it isn’t essential, so, in simple terms, your solar system will produce during the day but not at night.

This means that for anything you need to run, like pool pumps and things like that, it will be advantageous to program them to be the busiest in the middle of the day when your solar system generates the most electricity.

solar panels at night
Solar energy systems do not work at night

How much electricity will solar generate in rainy weather? 

Some wonder how much electricity your solar system will generate in rainy and cloudy weather.

I’ve observed this reality for over a decade, and a ‘golden rule’ for these days is if you have a 6-kilowatt system in regular sunlight during the middle of the day, such a system will produce between 4 and 5-kilowatt hours at a given time.

If it becomes a rainy day, it comes down to about one-third of the generation capacity of the system.

So if you have a 6-kilowatt system and in sunlight, it produces about 5 kilowatts of output, then you would possibly get 1.6-kilowatt hours during rainy or cloudy periods. While imperfect, such production will still clip off some of your electricity bills.

What will solar production look like on a sunny day? 

If you have a very sunny day, you probably start with 1.5-kilowatt-hour production in the morning, and by midday, you’re sitting at 5 to 6-kilowatt hours production, and then it goes down again to 3 and 2 and 1 kW/h towards the late afternoon.

But if you have a rainy day, you might only start with 500 watts in the morning, and then during the day, you’re only producing 1.5 – 2 and then even less in the afternoon. So if your panels are not functioning at the level that they should, this may be associated with several reasons explored here:

If you have an intermittent day with clouds and sun, you could sometimes generate 5-kilowatt hours, then 2 minutes later, production falls to 2 kW/h, and 5 minutes later, when the clouds have passed, you are back at 4 or 5 kW/hs. 

So it kind of staggers up and down. But solar is generally worth it because you’re taking the edge off your electricity bill even on a rainy day. After all, the system will chill and still generate, what I call, acceptable levels of electricity.

When a system produces a surplus of electricity, this surplus is exported, and you get paid for these kWh by your energy retailer.

What about solar production at night?

Although solar panels don’t produce electricity at night, solar storage and net metering make solar systems sustainable at night.

Net metering is one of the fundamental reasons home solar panel systems are a good investment. When your solar panels produce surplus electricity, they feed it into the grid, and the power company then credits your electric bill to compensate you for the excess you supply to the grid.

This means that the value can cover the cost of the electricity you use at night you receive for the excess electricity.

Another solution is a home solar-plus-storage battery combination. This system allows your home to access electricity overnight when solar panel production is inactive.

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