Yes, solar panels do work on cloudy days. However, their efficiency can be affected based on factors like the thickness and density of the clouds. Even in overcast conditions, solar panels are still converting photons into electric currents. Clouds, fog, and shade from trees can block sunlight from reaching solar panels and reduce their power production but overcast days should not concern homeowners who want to go solar. In the same way you can get sunburnt on an overcast day, UV light penetrates cloud coverage.
Cloud coverage can provide cooler temperatures, shade, and even precipitation, especially in rainy summer months or colder winter months. Cloud coverage does not, however, stop solar energy production.
How Solar Technology Works
It’s important to know how solar energy is produced and how solar panels work through photons in the sun’s light. Photons are positively charged and make contact with electrons near the surface of the negatively charged panels. When the photons make contact with the panel, the electrons are knocked loose, and the process of converting sunlight into electricity begins. You can learn more about the solar process here.
Solar owners who are connected to the utility grid do not need to worry about cloud coverage halting their solar savings. Through net metering programs and other credit programs from local utility companies, homeowners can send excess energy they do not use during the sunny hours of the day to the utility grid and receive compensation through credits. When the clouds are causing too much of an efficiency issue, those utility credits can be used to offset the cost of the utilities being pulled from the grid.
Overproduction can also be stored in home storage solutions like battery systems or generators connected to a custom rooftop solar panel system. Home electricity switches from one source to the other without delay, keeping energy flowing. Net metering programs and energy storage systems can also be used at night.
What if I Live in a Cloudy Climate?
Some climates are more susceptible to cloudy days than others, like the Pacific Northwest and some northern Midwestern states. However, states like Washington, Minnesota, and Oregon have some of the best solar savings in the nation. With solar experts who understand homeowners’ circumstances and needs, a solar panel system can be affordable and worthwhile no matter the weather.
Cloud Edge Effect
Did you know sometimes, clouds can double your energy production for a few seconds?
The Cloud-Edge Effect is when sunlight reflects off of the edge of a cloud passing by, beaming more photons onto the solar panel installed on your roof. In partly cloudy weather, those few seconds can help make up for the energy production lost from the cloud coverage.
Does Fog Affect Efficiency?
Similar to clouds, fog decreases the efficiency of solar panels, with estimates at about 50% efficiency. Luckily, fog tends to burn off before too long into the day, so as the sun rises, panels will operate near normal.
Install Efficient Solar Panels
To combat any lost production from cloud coverage, homeowners should install the most efficient solar panels for their energy needs. Monocrystalline panels are the best option for residential solar systems because of their size and efficiency rating(s). They are made from pure silicon in a single-crystal format, which allows electricity to flow more easily.
Cloudy days can also help maintain energy efficiency in panels. When panels are too warm, energy production is slowed due to the difficulty electrons have in moving, as every particle vibrates at a faster rate. Having clouds in the sky can help cool solar panels down, allowing the electrons to have plenty of room to move more easily.
When Does Solar Work Best?
Our Commitment to Quality Equipment, Efficiency, and Transparency
At Blue Raven Solar, we install high-quality, monocrystalline panels, with a team of expert designers who put together a solar array with the most efficient energy production in mind. Each home has different needs, and we take each of them into consideration.
How to get started with solar panels?
Want to start your solar journey today? A solar installer like Blue Raven Solar can help you get started. We have a team of experts, extending throughout the United States, who are prepared to guide you through every step of the solar installation process, bringing solar to your home with ease and simplicity.
Work with a solar installer, who shines even on cloudy days.