If you’ve been considering solar panels, but still have doubts because you live in an area that isn’t sunny all the time, you may be wondering, “do solar panels work on cloudy days?”
The answer is yes, and we’re about to find out why.
Ever been outside on an overcast day only to receive a horrible sunburn and wonder why? Just like your sunburn on a cloudy day, solar panels can still absorb sun on a cloudy day and generate a lot of energy! Mr. Golden Sun is pretty determined to shine through those clouds whether you can see it or not. Whether solar panels work on cloudy days or not is one of the commonly asked questions about solar panels that we’ve come across.
Surprisingly, cloudy and rainy areas are some of the most popular places for solar energy installations. Your brain might tell you the hottest sunniest climates are the best, but research shows intense heat can sometimes cause your panels to be less effective.
Take Chicago for example. It’s known for its fog and cloud coverage. Yet Chicago is consistently ranked one of the best cities for personal home solar panels. Why is this?
Are Solar Panels Worth It In Cloudy Areas?
The main factor of solar panel installations being worth it in an area is how high electricity rates are for that area, not how much sunlight the area receives. So even if you live in a city known for its cloudy days you can still take advantage of the many benefits of a solar panel system. Chicago’s electricity rates are astronomically high and homeowners have had enough. More and more are turning to home solar systems to breakaway from their utility companies and produce their own power. Because the cost of electricity is so high, they have a greater potential for savings by going solar.
So How Do Solar Panels Work On A Cloudy Day?
It’s important to remember that solar panels convert the sun’s light, not the sun’s heat, into electricity. They also absorb sunlight that bounces off surfaces to generate power, not just direct sunlight. A cloud can sometimes even magnify sunlight or reflect it, resulting in BETTER solar panel performance than standard sunny weather. Other than the light you can see (visible light) solar panels also absorb infrared light. Infrared light has a longer wavelength and can penetrate clouds. All of these factors and more allow your solar panels to produce electricity even on a cloudy day. CleanTechnica estimates that solar panels can produce more than 10–25% of their typical output on a cloudy day.
Quality And Efficiency Of Your Solar Panels Matter
We’ve discussed how solar panels produce energy during cloud cover, but high quality and efficient solar panels are what make that possible.
If your panels are high quality and efficient, then they’re made to withstand whatever mother nature throws their way, be it snow or some clouds.
How Net Metering helps
Net metering is a process by which homeowners can “sell back” the unused solar energy they produced on sunny days back to their utility company. This excess power can earn them credits at an agreed upon rate, and in some states the rates are very favorable. These credits earned can then be applied to electricity bills during cloudy times where your panels might still be operating but producing less energy on their own. Not only does a solar panel system help protect you from rising electricity costs, but it can also earn you money too.
Battery Is Best
Another way to ensure you have all the energy you need on cloudier days is your own solar battery storage. A home solar panel battery backup is what makes a home solar system truly complete. They’re more affordable than ever now that prices of solar batteries have decreased by 90 percent in the past decade. With solar storage, the excess energy your panels capture when the sun is shining, will be stored for you to use when the sun is not. Whether that’s at night, fog, blizzards, in the rain, through overcast – you name it. Dipping into your own reserves of energy on less producing days can solidify your independence from the electric grid by not having to rely on them to power your home. Read more about popular types of batteries for your solar panels such as the Enphase Encharge and the Tesla Powerwall 2.
So yes, solar panels do work on cloudy days. They might generate less of their normal solar power output, but your solar energy system will still produce energy in rainy or cloudy weather. It’s best to talk to a solar sales specialist who will work with you to figure out if solar is right for your home, analyzing things like your area’s weather patterns.