Do Solar Panels Work On Cloudy Days?

July 30, 2019

When installing a solar system, you want to reduce your dependence on utility companies and become an independent power supplier. However, you have to consider night times and consider the efficiency of solar panels in cloudy weather or any other downtime for that matter. Although solar panels do not function at night because of lack of the sun’s radiation, solar panels do work in cloudy weather.

Effectiveness of Solar Panels in Cloudy Weather

How do solar panels work on cloudy days? Indeed the output of solar panels is at its highest when there is abundant sunshine. But you will not be limited to use of solar panels in cloudy weather because solar panels work whether it is sunny or cloudy. Nevertheless, solar panel output in cloudy weather is lower than in sunny weather. Solar panel output in cloudy weather day is about 10-20% of their normal capacity, therefore, power from solar panel on cloudy weather is much lower. Clouds and fog do hinder direct sunlight from getting to solar panels limiting their efficiency.

Noteworthy, the sun is a powerful source of energy and during cloudy weather, there is some diffuse and reflected light which the solar panels convert into electricity. The amount of solar power produced in cloudy weather will depend on how dense the clouds are and also depends on your type of solar panel. Some solar panels are more efficient than others in cloudy weather and in this regard, if you live in a cloudy area you can get the best solar panel for cloudy conditions.

Solar Panel Tips for Cloudy Weather

You do not need to be overly concerned if your residential area experiences many cloudy days in a year. Since the cost of solar panels has continued to decline over the last ten years, you can fit more solar panels so that you have a large solar system that can cover you up when it is cloudy.

How to Cope with Low Solar Panels Output in Cloudy Weather

There are two backup systems you can use when your solar system is unable to generate enough power for your electrical functions, which is at night or during cloudy weather. First, like many solar systems, you can remain connected to the grid and not go entirely off-grid. By remaining on the grid, you can use the grid as a back-up system. The grid is like an infinite large battery and when your roof creates surplus power, it can all be directed to the grid for credit from your electricity company. And when the solar system is experiencing down times, you can draw power from the grid and if your state has a good net metering system, you can benefit financially.

Alternatively, you can install a solar battery and use it as a power backup system. The advantage of using batteries is that when the grid is down, your solar battery will come in handy and supply power.

How Cloudy is Your City?

To know the solar power production capacity of your city, you can check online from weather experts, the average sunny and cloudy days in your city in a year. And if you have already installed solar, you can actually keep a track record of the amount of solar power produced over a one year period, and record when the weather is extremely cloudy and also extremely hot. Take note of the weather conditions when your solar power production is at its highest or lowest.

In this regard, most people make the assumption that solar panels function better in hot weather. Actually, too much heat that is above 25°C will affect the output of solar panels too. The electronics in solar panels are affected by excess heat which reduces their efficiency. Solar panels function better in moderate temperatures.

Individuals who monitor their power output on a day to day basis are usually surprised when their solar panels exceed their production capacity in partly cloudy weather because of the silver lining on clouds. An over-sized solar inverter is best placed to take advantage of such weather conditions.

Solar Power Production in Cloudy Cities

Actually as far as solar power is concerned, areas with cooler weather have an advantage over areas with hot weather. Cities with extreme heat conditions are more disadvantaged than cloudy cities. Did you know that residents in some of the most cloudy or fog cities in the USA and other countries in the world still benefit tremendously from solar power? Germany as a nation is ahead when it comes to solar power yet it experiences cloudy weather. In the USA, San Francisco, Boston, Seattle, Portland have cool temperatures in fall and cold winters yet solar power is still popular and continues to grow. Portland is one of the leading solar cities in the USA and is the 17 best city in terms of solar capacity yet it has cloudy weather.

Final remarks

In the future, we expect that solar panels will be more efficient in cloudy weather, thanks to solar technological advancements. As a matter of fact, innovators are trying to develop solar cells that can capture ultraviolet light. Ultraviolet light still penetrates the earth’s surface in abundance in cloudy weather. As we wait for innovators to develop solutions facing the solar industry, we can work with what we have right now, using solar batteries and net metering.

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