Are you considering adding solar panels to your property? Installing these panels to your home can transform how you use energy and significantly reduce your energy bills. In recent years, their use has soared, and that demand is only set to rise further over the coming years.
However, one of the most common questions that homeowners ask before installing is whether solar panels are able to work on cloudy days. This is a very valid question, particularly for residents living in areas where it might be more common to experience overcast and cloudy days.
That is why in this blog, we thought we would explore this question further, ensuring you know exactly how they work.
Table of contents
- What are solar panels, and how do they work?
- What are the benefits of installing solar panels in your home?
- How does a cloudy day affect solar energy generation?
- What are the best solar panels for cloudy days?
- How efficient are solar panels on cloudy days?
- Do solar panels work at night?
- Do Solar panels work in the shade?
- Do solar panels work on snowy days?
- Tips to improve the efficiency of your solar panels on a cloudy day
- Best solar panels for cloudy days
What are solar panels, and how do they work?
Before we take a look at whether cloudy days impact the efficiency of solar panels, it is first important to understand exactly what they are and how they work. Solar panels are unique products that help to convert sunlight into energy which can be used to power your home.
A solar panel is made up of many smaller sections that are known as cells and are made from multiple layers of a semi-conducting material such as silicon. As sunlight shines on these cells, it creates a flow of electricity. Each of the cells works together to generate Direct Current (DC), which will then be converted into usable Alternating Current (AC) by solar inverters to power your electrical devices.
What are the benefits of installing solar panels in your home?
Installing a solar panel on your property can provide you with a huge array of benefits, including:
#1 Reduce your impact on the environment
One of the biggest benefits of installing solar panels is that it significantly reduces your impact on the environment. Unlike traditional power sources, such as coal, natural gas, or oil, solar power is completely renewable and creates no harmful greenhouse gases or pollution.
#2 Reduce your energy bills
Alongside reducing your carbon emissions, solar panels are also able to help you save money on your energy bills. When you install these panels, you will be reducing how much energy you need to use from the grid and the less energy you require, the lower your bills will be.
#3 Fully reliable
Solar power is also a completely reliable energy source. With over 85% of the world’s power coming from non-renewable sources, which are quickly depleting, there is a finite amount of time remaining. However, sunlight will never run out, ensuring you can enjoy an unlimited and completely reliable source of power.
#4 Minimal maintenance costs
Another popular benefit of solar panels is that they require very low maintenance. Despite the myth that they are hard to maintain, solar panels are actually very durable and will be able to last for over 20 years before needing any care. All you will need to do is give them a wipe clean a few times a year.
#5 Quick installation
Another common misconception is that solar panels are difficult to install. However, this is not true. Roof solar panels can be installed by many professional installers. And for RV roof or small cabin roof solar panels, there are many DIY instructions available on the Internet. Some solar panels don’t even require complicated installation, such as Renogy 200 Watt monocrystalline foldable solar suitacase, which comes with integrated aluminium alloy kickstand.
Do solar panels work in cloudy weather?
Solar panels are able to work regardless of the sunshine, and it is important to remember that it is daylight, not sunlight, which powers the solar cells. Modern solar panels are incredibly sophisticated technology, and they are able to work throughout the year in rain, hail, snow, and sunshine.
Although they are able to work throughout the year, it is important to understand that they will produce less power when conditions are cloudy. This is because the solar cells on each panel are designed to absorb energy from the sun, so the fewer direct rays it receives, the lower the amount of energy it will create. A good rule to remember is that the less shadow over the solar panel, the better.
There is a phenomenon known as the ‘Edge-of-Cloud Effect,’ which can actually see your energy spike in overcast conditions. This is a process where the sun’s rays are magnified as it breaks through a cloud, creating a much higher electrical output compared to normal. However, this can cause additional issues as having a sudden burst of high electricity being generated can cause your fuses to blow and decrease the lifespan of the inverter.
What are the best solar panels for cloudy days?
While any solar panel will work in cloudy conditions, there are certain options that are able to work better. There are currently three main types of solar panels available on the market today, Monocrystalline PV, Polycrystalline PV, and Amorphous (or Thin Film).
These three technologies differ in how they’re manufactured, and the quality of the silicon used. Each of these also has differing levels of efficiency, sensitivity to light, overall size, and cost.
Of the three, Monocrystalline is the best for cloudy days. This is because the cells used in their construction are made of the highest quality of silicon, while the crystals used are formed from a single item. This ensures that the electrons produced are able to flow and move far more freely, creating a higher rate of electricity.
That ability makes these types of solar panels far more efficient and can produce much greater rates of electricity per square area than any other type of technology. That also means that they can be smaller in size, making them perfect for use where space might be limited. They also have a higher resistance to heat fluctuations and typically have a longer lifespan.
However, while they are far more effective on cloudy days, they are also more expensive. Not only are the materials of a higher quality, but the process of manufacturing these types of panels is also more complex.
How efficient are solar panels in cloudy weather?
In an ideal world, your solar panel would be positioned in a location where it will sit in sunlight all day long. For the vast majority of homeowners, this is not possible, and cloudy days are inevitable. In these conditions, your solar panel will not work as effectively as normal, but just how efficient are they still?
Cloudy days do significantly impact how effectively your solar panels work. On an average overcast day, solar panels will typically operate at around 25% of their normal output. Some homeowners are worried that the rain might damage their panels, but this is not the case, and rain can actually help to remove any dust or dirt that might have built up since you last cleaned the panels.
These panels are designed to be incredibly robust and are able to withstand continuous exposure to the elements. This means that even in heavy rain or hail, your solar panels will be able to operate as designed.
More detailed information about solar panel efficiency can be found in Solar Panel Efficiency: Everything You Need to Know.
Do solar panels work at night?
In order to work, solar panels need to have sunlight. While they can work in low light conditions such as cloudy days, they are not able to generate any effective power during the night. However, that doesn’t mean that you will be without power. The use of batteries is one of the best ways to do this, allowing you to store energy throughout the day so that you can continue to use your electronics as needed.
Do Solar panels work in the shade?
Yes, they can. But usually, there should be no shadow on the solar panel. Any shade of trees, leaves, gravel and building can cause some solar cells to produce less power than other cells in the sunlight, and consequently, the overall efficiency of the solar panels is weakened. Also, you might expect your solar power system to pay back faster; then, you better keep the solar panels away from any shade to ensure the best power outcome.
Do solar panels work on snowy days?
“A dusting of snow has little impact on solar panels.” explained the Office of Energy Efficiency & Renewable Energy in one of their articles. Solar panels can work as usual on snowy days as long as there are no snow coatings on solar panels. Snow accumulations can result in a loss of conversion efficiency of over 5% or even lead to the hot spot effect, a common issue occurring when solar panels are shaded.
For areas where it snows a lot, it is recommended to hook up the solar panels with a larger inclination angle. So that the snow can slide off to a certain extent, thus reducing the effect on solar panels’ efficiency. More than a larger inclination, you can also mount the solar panels higher to keep a safe distance from the deep snow on the ground.
Tips to improve the efficiency of your solar panels on a cloudy day
Solar technology is continuing to advance, and panels are becoming far more efficient and effective. However, if you are looking to boost your efficiency, then there are some top tips to remember:
When it comes to improving efficiency, location is everything. Make sure that you are placing your panels in a position that maximizes their time in sunlight. You should think about how the sun moves throughout the day and whether any nearby trees or bushes could cause shade.
#2 Consider the angle
Alongside the location, you will also want to consider the angle of your panels. This will depend on where you are placing them as well as your geographic location. The closer you are to the equator, the more they should be angled so they point straight up.
#3 Remove blockages
Are there trees or bushes that are blocking the sun from reaching your panels? Where possible, you should cut back any overgrown plants so that your panels are able to get the maximum amount of sunlight possible.
#4 Clean your solar panels
Another top tip to maximize the efficiency of your solar panels is to ensure that they are clean. You should wash them with water and a non-abrasive sponge, as this will remove any dust or debris that could be blocking them.
More tips on solar panel maintenance can be found in Solar Panels Maintenance Best Practices and Costs.
Best solar panels for cloudy days
Solar panel technology has come a long way since they first began appearing on the market, and they are now more affordable and powerful than ever before. Adding one to your home can transform your energy usage and reduce your bills, no matter how much sunlight you get!
Renogy will the best off-grid solar DIY brand for you. At Renogy, we offer the best monocrystalline solar panels for sale, as well as other necessary components such as charge controllers, lithium iron phosphate batteries, pure sine wave inverters and connecting wires. Contact us for an all-in-one solution right away so that you can go solar with the least hassle.