Solar panels are a way to produce electricity for the home that is cheaper and also better for the environment. Many homeowners have these in cities where the electricity is expensive. Why? The solar panel creates energy for the home instead of using electricity so there is a small bill each month and sometimes no bill (depending on where you live)! However, it does require sunlight to work.
Do solar panels work on cloudy days? Yes! It just takes longer because there is no sun so they make about 10-25% of the normal electricity they would make on a bright and sunny day. Also, the clouds can actually magnify the sun and make it stronger. Did you ever hear that the sun is still strong and you can burn on cloudy days? This is the same.
Here in Texas, we are a sunny state and solar panels make sense. Let’s take a look at why you need to know about solar panels on cloudy days, what they are, key facts, solar power when it is dark, benefits, cost, how you know they are right for you, other areas to think about, and when to call a professional.
Why You Need to Know If Solar Panels Work on Cloudy Days
If you are investing the money in solar panels for your home or business, you want to know if they continue to work on cloudy days. It is important for you to know they do work and you won’t be left in the dark. However, there are a few things that need to happen for them to work that we will discuss below.
Here is how to test the solar panels on a cloudy day:
What Are Solar Panels
Solar panels are also known as “PV panels” and they convert the light from the sun into electricity and it powers the home. They are not only used on homes, but also for remote power systems, telecommunications, remote sensing, and also commercial properties. A lot of homeowners and business owners are switching to solar for the many benefits.
Key Facts About Solar Panels on Cloudy Days
- They still work, but not the same as a bright and sunny day. As mentioned above, the output is about 10-25% less. Also, you don’t need to live in a climate that is sunny all day long. Some cities like San Francisco and Seattle that have many cloudy and foggy days actually reap the benefits. This is because the cost of electricity has skyrocketed in cities so solar panels help homeowners save money.
- Hot weather is not necessary– solar panels actually work better in places that are cold and warm throughout the year. If the temperature usually stays about 77 degrees or below, they work more efficiently. But cities that have hotter temps and have high electricity bills still find them useful.
Solar Power When it is Dark
Solar panels obviously don’t absorb sunlight when it is dark. However, the power that is absorbed during the day, called photovoltaic energy (PV) is converted to direct current (DC) power. Then, it is converted to alternating current power (AC). This is the type of power that most homes run on. The electricity is then fed into the home. At night time, net metering or solar plus storage technology allows the solar panel to access the electricity.
Benefits of Solar Panels
There are many benefits of solar panels, let’s take a look at those:
- Placed where there is the most sunlight- the professional will gauge where you get the most sunlight and place them there on the roof. Every house will be different because of the location. This will allow you to get the most amount of sunlight possible.
- You can live off-grid – if you have a home or cabin off-grid – meaning remote, there is no need to hook up to electricity and spend the money to have electricity poles installed. Instead, the solar panels will provide what you need.
- Renewable energy– this is much better for the environment and eliminates greenhouse gases. There are no moving parts and when installed correctly, they last for decades!
- Little to no bill after installation paid off– once the installation is paid for, then the system will continue to work. Fifteen to twenty years or more and you will see no electric bill! Most homeowners pay it off within 7-8 years and then see a 20% return on investment. Also, sometimes your home may produce excess solar power so it is stored in the grid. This can be sold to the electric company and come back as credits for you! Known as net metering, it varies by each state. If your state doesn’t offer net metering, asking about a solar battery is important for storage.
- Rising energy costs won’t affect you – energy costs are going up but if you have solar panels, this won’t affect you!
- Appraisers like solar panels – if you are selling your property, many appraisers like solar panels and are taking them into consideration when assigning value to the home.
- Reduces carbon footprint – adding solar panels to the home eliminates three to four tons of carbon emissions each year!
Cost of Solar Panels
Here in Texas, solar panels run from about $2.74/W and an average cost of $11,000 to $16,000, and an average is about $13,000. There is also a 26% Federal Investment Tax Credit that lowers this even more! However, as mentioned above, many homeowners pay it off in 7-8 years (depending on the state) and reap the benefits of no electricity bill and a healthier environment.
How You Know if Solar Panels Are Right For You
Depending on the amount of sunlight in the area you live, the cost for installation, and the return on investment will determine if solar panels are right for your home. Also, here in Texas, it takes about 12 1/2 years to recover the investment, but you will save about $16,000 in bills! These are all factors to take into consideration and contacting a professional is a good idea.
Other Areas to Think About
If you decide to have the solar panels added to your roof, it is a good idea to do some maintenance first.
One area to check on the roof is for broken sheathing or water spots.
Check the counterflashing on the chimney (if you have one) or where the roof meets the walls to make sure the water is diverting from the roof and down the siding. You don’t want the water going into the home. If this is an issue, have it fixed before adding solar panels.
Perform the yearly maintenance on the dryer vent that goes to the roof if you haven’t already.
Here are some other areas to check on the roof.
After the Solar Panels Are Added
After adding the solar panels, be careful when removing snow from the roof. You don’t want to knock one of the panels loose. If you do, contact a professional to help.
Keep up yearly maintenance and check the roof after bad storms to make sure the panels are in place. Contact a professional if you have any concerns.
When to Call a Professional
Call a professional with questions about solar panels and do your research. They are not cheap and you want to make sure you get out of them what you want; whether it is just a cheaper electricity bill or for you to have solar power. Also, if you have any concerns about your roof before installation, contact a professional.
Solar panels are great for the environment and for the pocketbook, once you get through the paying off of the installation. Unlike a car that depreciates as the years go on, solar panels do not. As mentioned above, they help with the property value. We can inspect your roof during a home inspection in the Houston, Texas area. This will help you have a roof in great condition before adding the solar panels. Think you might need our services? Leave us a reply below!