Do solar panels work on cloudy days and at night?

Adrienne SorensenSeptember 5, 2018 1497 0

Do solar panels work on cloudy days and at night?


Clouds are just little drops of water or ice floating around together. It might cool the temperature down a little, but those clouds do not block the sun from getting to your solar panels. They just obscure it a little. Like I mentioned earlier, if that were the case, Germany, England, The Netherlands and even Seattle Washington would not be the solar hot spots, but they definitely are. Believe it or not, clouds do not completely block the rays of sunshine your solar panels need in order to function. Even on the cloudiest days, your solar panels will continue to generate electricity, albeit at a decreased rate. Think of it this way, if it is bright enough outside for you to be able to see using natural light, and your panels are not obstructed by shade, your solar equipment is still absorbing all that indirect light filtering through the clouds.

Cloudy days


Solar panels generate the most electricity on clear days with abundant sunshine, not surprisingly, but do solar panels work in cloudy weather? Yes… just not quite as well On a cloudy day, typical solar panels can produce about 25 percent of their rated capacity. The exact amount will vary depending on the density of the clouds, and may also vary by the type of solar panel; some kinds of panels are better at receiving diffuse light. SunPower solar cells, for example, have been designed to capture a broader range of the solar spectrum. By capturing more red and blue wavelengths, their solar panels can generate more electricity even when it’s overcast. There are advancements all the time too. Scientists are starting to figure out how to power solar cells with light as well as well as with drops of water, so the solar cell would work at full capacity during rainstorms.

Ultraviolet light also reaches the earth’s surface in abundance during cloudy days (if you’ve ever been at the beach when it’s cloudy and gotten a sunburn, you’ve experienced this firsthand). Some solar cells are in development that can capture UV rays, although these are not out on the market yet. Even with a standard solar panel on a cloudy day, though, you will be able to generate some power when it’s daylight. The same thing is true in foggy weather. If you live in a city with frequent fog, like San Francisco, you’ll still be able to generate electricity when the fog rolls in.

At night

Solar panels require sunlight to harvest electricity so they do not work in darkness. The answer to this question is no. The confusion of solar working at night is due to the concept of solar storage. This permits homes to still have energy supply at night. Panels can only create power during the day, the question then becomes “how will solar panels provide power overnight when there is no sunshine?” There are two solutions  to resolve that problem. Net metering and solar-plus-storage technology pemit solar panel systems to access electricity overnight when production is dormant. This is either through connection to the grid or battery. Thanks to grid and storage, panels are a sustainable round-the-clock energy solution. Net metering is that it’s not available everywhere so other nighttime power supply options should be considered. Before inverters, panel systems were hosted off-grid. The owner created all power on their own and store excess with battery banks. Check this out for more.

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