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  • Writer's pictureBrian Harbin

When the Sun Don’t Shine: Solar Power and Cloudy Weather

One of the most accessible and clean sources of energy is the Sun, with solar panels able to transform the free sunlight humanity receives every day into electricity that can power our homes. One of the most common myths about solar power is that solar panels do not work at nighttime or on cloudy days.

While it is true that solar panels do not generate electricity during the night, electricity there is not the same issue with solar power and cloudy weather. Electricity will always be generated by solar panels providing there is some sunlight, though the available sunlight will determine how much is produced.

A solar panel is always working, with the question being the amount of electricity it is able to produce from the amount of light it is receiving. Even at night there is some ambient light or reflected moonlight but solar panels usually produce no electricity after dark. However this is different for cloudy weather.

Do solar panels work on cloudy days?

Solar panels usually continue to produce electricity during cloudy weather, as well as in the rain or any other periods where there is indirect sunlight; they will just not perform with quite the same level of efficiency.

Rain is also not an issue that homeowners should be concerned about, as solar panels are waterproof and in fact rain can actually be a benefit to solar panels by washing away dirt and ensuring that they are able to continue running to their maximum efficiency.

How much electricity will you get on cloudy days?

The amount of electricity that solar panels will produce on cloudy days will inevitably be less than on a non-cloudy day, but how much lower? The good news is that the great majority of modern solar panels are manufactured to make sure that they will continue to work well even in conditions when there is low light, meaning that adequate electricity will still be produced even during cloudy weather.

The general rule is that during cloudy weather a regular solar panel will still be able to produce around a quarter to nearly half of the same energy it would be capable of producing under more ideal conditions, although higher outputs can be produced by higher efficiency panels.

Why you should install a solar power system

The installation of a solar power system is a superb investment that in just a few years will mean your home is able to provide free and clean energy for the next quarter of a century. However there are a number of decisions that need to be made to make sure you can get the most from your solar power system, regardless of the weather. Other factors that can have an impact on electricity production include the efficiency and quality of the panels, the angle and location of the panels on your roof, your inverter type, your system size and shading. It is important to take all these factors into account to be able to get the most from solar power. 

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