If you live in an area that has cloudy weather, or if you plan to live in an area that may get cloudy sometimes, then it’s very important to know if solar panels can work in the shade or on overcast days. If they can’t produce energy on cloudy days, then they might not be right for your home.
This guide will explore the ins and outs of how solar panels work with varying levels of sun exposure and shine some light on the impact that weather can have on your energy production. If you’re interested in learning even more about the intricacies of solar panel installation or solar incentives, be sure to click “visit here” to see what our solar company is all about at Go Solar MA.
Solar Panel Basics
Solar panels are a relatively simple invention that converts sunlight into electricity. The sunlight hits solar cells, which are devices made out of semiconductors (such as silicon) and other materials.
These cells excite electrons and allow them to flow through the circuit, which creates power. This process is called photovoltaic (PV) energy conversion. In short, solar panels convert photons (light particles) into electrons (electricity).
The amount of sunlight you get depends on a few factors, including where you live, whether it’s raining or snowing, and what time of year it is. In general, your solar panels will produce more electricity during long summer days than shorter winter days. But keep in mind that panels don’t work as well when they are partially covered by trees or other objects that cast shadows over them.
Solar Panels In The Shade
It’s a question that is often asked and there are conflicting answers depending on who you talk to. Well, when it comes down to it, it actually depends on how much shade covers your panels. If they’re covered by 50% or more, it could be almost impossible for them to generate enough energy while they’re covered up… but if they’re covered by only a thin tree branch (less than 30%) then there shouldn’t be any problem at all!
It’s a common misconception that solar panels have to be directly exposed to sunlight to charge. But it’s actually impossible for light to completely stop producing energy, as it will always leak through! The energy level of your solar system will depend on what type of material covers your panels, and how much of it is covering them.
A thin tree branch won’t be enough to affect your panels’ ability to produce energy, but if you’re living near heavy vegetation it could be an issue. If that’s something you want to avoid, then there is another option and that’s mounting your solar panels on a pole or framework so they are not covered by other plants and trees.
How Much Sunlight Is Needed?
The sun does not usually provide a steady flow of energy from sunrise to sunset, nor is it constant from day to day. The amount of energy a solar panel will receive each day is affected by cloud cover, air pollution, and varying surface temperatures that influence how much radiation will be reflected back. Solar panels can generate up to 25 percent of their energy production even on cloudy days.
But how much sunlight do solar panels need to produce power? The actual amount of available energy each day varies between locations and over time, but on average a solar panel needs at least five hours of direct sun to generate enough electricity for one day. On a cloudy or partly cloudy day, you can still generate about 10 to 25 percent of your expected daily power with only a few hours of sunlight.
The amount of available energy and power your system can generate depends on how much surface area is exposed to direct sunlight. Energy production varies with panel orientation, so remember that if you mount them at an angle other than facing south, you could lose a few hours worth of solar exposure per day depending on where you live.
Solar Panels In The Rain & At Night
Solar panels work by absorbing light from the sun and converting it into energy. Most homeowners aren’t worried about water damaging their system—after all, it’s usually pretty sturdy stuff. In fact, rain can be helpful as it washes off dirt and debris that has built up on your solar panels.
When it comes to actually generating electricity in the rain, they do! The system won’t run at 100%, but your panels will continue making some energy and sending it back into your home. This is great news if you live somewhere with a lot of precipitation.
If you are comparing how much energy solar panels produce on sunny days vs cloudy days, don’t worry about it too much. Solar panels still work when there are clouds in front of them; just not as efficiently. So if those clouds begin moving or dissipate, there could be a little burst of extra power heading into your system—on both sunny and cloudy days.
Most of your energy comes from direct sunlight. Solar panels also use diffuse light from clouds and reflections off of surrounding surfaces. Since it takes longer for light to travel through water droplets than air, your solar panels will produce less energy in rain or fog.
The short answer is yes, solar panels will generate power on moonlit nights. That said, solar panels are designed to work optimally when facing direct sunlight. With a clear sky and full moon, you’ll only produce less than 1 percent of your energy production compared to direct sunlight.
Getting Solar Panels
Now that you know conditions that produce electricity, it’s time to decide if it’s worth it. While solar panels are one of the most cost-effective ways to generate power at home or work, their performance can be significantly reduced by cloud cover or shade from nearby trees and buildings.
On sunny days, however, solar panels perform amazingly well. You will still have access to reliable electricity even on cloudy days when direct sunlight is blocked out by clouds. According to Home Advisor the average cost of solar panels is between $17,178 and $32,220.
Don’t let that price tag prevent you from moving forward though. Federal and state governments offer all kinds of rebates and tax credits. Some utility companies even also offer special incentives for homes with solar power systems. Contact your local municipality or contact your utility company to see if they have any special offers available.