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Do Solar Panels Work On Cloudy Days? An Explanation Guide

Dark and cloudy weather approaches a neighborhood in a tropical setting.

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Many of us are out here looking for ways to save money on utility bills while also helping the environment. One simple way to address this issue is with solar panels. Solar panels collect energy from the sun and convert this into electricity; however, one of the most common questions that people ask is, do solar panels work on cloudy days? That’s a good question. If the sun isn’t out, then surely the panels can’t be producing electricity, right? 

Wrong. 

In this article, we’ll review how solar panels can keep your home running even when the sun’s not shining. We’ll also explain how you can maintain your panels so they can perform at ultimate efficiency regardless of the weather.

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How Do Solar Panels Actually Generate Electricity

Before getting into whether solar panels can work on cloudy days, it’s important to understand how they function under ideal weather conditions. You know, when there’s sunlight. 

First, know that small piece known as photovoltaic cells make up solar panels. These cells convert sunlight into direct current (DC). Then, an inverter in the solar panels converts DC into alternating current (AC). This conversion is necessary because many of our favorite appliances use AC to power their systems.

If your city has a policy called net metering, then homes can actually take the excess energy they generate and send this back to the grid. This policy lets you receive a credit on your utility bills, allowing you to save even more money on electricity. This is especially helpful for times when it might be cloudy outside and the solar panels are not generating nearly as much electricity.

A view of a Spanish style roof with solar panels and the sky above it.

Solar Panels Are Most Effective When Placed in Direct Sunlight

There’s really no magic to solar panels; they collect the most light when they are placed directly in the sun. Therefore homeowners need to think about the amount of sun exposure their home receives throughout the year, as this is going to affect the number of solar panels they need to generate an appropriate amount of electricity to meet their needs.

If solar panels are partially blocked by the clouds, this will affect their ability to generate electricity to a certain extent. If there’s still some sun poking through the clouds, then the solar panels will continue to generate some electricity. 

And if there’s rain accompanying the clouds, this will actually increase the effectiveness of solar panels. The rain is going to wash away some dirt, dust, and debris that will otherwise impact the ability of the solar panels to generate electricity.

Keys Facts to Note About Solar Panels and Cloudy Days

When it comes to cloudy days and solar panels, there are a few other important points to keep in mind. 

Cold and Cloudy Locations

Solar panels are still going to work well if they are placed in cold or cloudy spots. This includes locations in the New England area and the Pacific Northwest. Each of these cities experiences inclement weather from time to time; regardless, these are still among the most common locations in which these solar panels are found. Many of these cities have high electricity costs, only adding to the incentive of using solar panels.

Hot Weather

There is a common misconception that solar panels require hot weather to generate electricity. Yes, solar panels need sunlight to function but, as mentioned before, they can reserve and use electricity from net metering to power your home. Once the solar panels get above 77 degrees, their efficiency can suffer. So while solar panels will continue to work well in hot settings, they do not require warm weather to operate at peak efficiency.

An American craftsman home surrounded by trees and beautiful floral landscaping.

Partial Shading

Sometimes solar panels might experience partial shading from clouds, trees, or other sources. While partial shading can decrease the amount of energy that solar panels are generating, solar panels themselves are actually engineered to mitigate this effect. For example, if ten percent of the photovoltaic cells are shielded, then only ten percent of the energy production capacity will be lost. The rest of the solar panels are still going to work well.

This is why it’s important for homeowners and business owners to work with experienced engineers when the time comes to install solar panels. Experienced installers will know how to place solar panels to reduce the effects of partial shading. This can allow homeowners and business owners to make sure they’re generating the most electricity possible.

Increase Energy Efficiency with Proper Maintenance

When compared to other utilities that are commonly used to power homes, solar panels require less maintenance; however, you should still regularly clean your panels from time to time. This will help homeowners get the most out of their solar grid and generate as much electricity as possible. Similar to other utilities, regular maintenance can still go a long way toward extending the lifespan of solar panels and increasing their efficiency even when they are partially shaded by clouds or rain.

An ONIT Home Service solar panel contractor standing on a roof during installation.

Rely on ONIT For All Issues Related to Solar Panels

If you’re wondering, “do solar panels work in the shade?” the answer is yes! But to make sure you’re getting the most out of your solar panels, even in the shade, you need to rely on the team from ONIT Solar. We’re here to help families save money on their electricity bill and reduce their carbon footprint with high-quality solar power systems. Contact us today to learn more about how we can help you maximize energy production from your solar system!

ONIT Home is your one-stop shop for all your bundled home needs. We’re currently offering $1,500 in vouchers to be used with security, water and solar. You can also get a free water filtration system and security system with the purchase of a solar panel system, or a  $2,000 security system for only $1,000. That way, you can protect your family from contaminated water and protect them with a safe home. Contact us today online or by giving us a call at 1-833-433-0331 so we can set you up with this incredible deal.