Do Solar Panels Work On Cloudy Days? And Other Conditions

Do Solar Panels Work On Cloudy Days? And Other Conditions

April 11, 2022

Solar panels allow homeowners across the world to harness the incredible power of the sun’s light. But, what about when the days aren’t so sunny? Do solar panels still work on cloudy days?

If you have ever asked this question, you’re not the only one. Today, let’s explore how solar panels work on cloudy days. We’ll also explore how solar panels hold up in other conditions as well, such as snow, rain, and at night.

Do solar panels generate electricity on cloudy days?

clouds above solar panels

Short answer: Yes! Solar panels do work on cloudy days. Residential PV solar panels are designed to convert both direct and indirect sunlight into sustainable energy for your home.

From there, the answer gets a bit more complicated. Obviously, direct sunlight is best for generating electricity. This means that your home will typically receive the most electricity during peak sunlight hours during the day.

On very cloudy days, your solar panels’ performance and output can slow as it receives indirect sunlight through the thick cloud cover.

According to EcoWatch, “on average, solar panels will generate 10 to 25% of their normal power output on days with heavy cloud coverage.” This might seem like a drastic reduction, but it’s actually accounted for during design consultations.

When combined with the expertise of professional solar installers, estimating software like PVWatts use years of historical data to predict cloudy and sunny day counts/levels. When you receive a production estimate with your quotation, this is already taken into account. In other words, your systems are sized with this in mind.

The brand of solar panel and the internal technology also makes a huge difference in your panel’s power output on not-so-sunny days. 

According to SunPower, “some cells (including those used by SunPower) incorporate a ‘backside mirror.’ This thin layer of aluminum bounces some of the light photons that are not absorbed on their first pass through a cell back into the cell to have a second chance for absorption. This results in greater output of electrons from the same input of light.”

What about on rainy days?

What if the clouds bring some rainy weather with them? Well, this actually isn’t a bad thing!

Solar panels are specifically designed to hold up on your roof during inclement weather, such as rain and thunderstorms (outside of a few very extreme cases, of course). Typically rain showers should still have the same varying solar performance as on cloudy days.

In addition, rainy days can also help you wash your panels. As the rain falls, it’ll help wash away any dirt or dust that may have accumulated on your panels, allowing them to more effectively capture direct or indirect sunlight.

How about in the winter?

There’s a very common misconception that solar panels do not work in the cold. This simply isn’t true.

Remember, solar panels require the sun’s light, not its heat, to create sustainable energy for your home. In fact, solar panels are actually proven to perform better in colder temperatures and climates (good news for us here in Massachusetts).

Heavy snow accumulations can hinder performance if heavy enough to block the sun from reaching your panels. However, your panels should be installed at an angle that allows the snow to fall off harmlessly. So, this is an area where expert, professional solar installation shows its significance.

Can I use solar power at night?

Can your solar panels generate electricity at night? Unfortunately, no–since there’s no sunlight to be captured and converted, solar panels cannot generate electricity at night. 

However, can you still benefit from solar power at night? Absolutely. Keep reading to find out how!

Solar solutions during off-peak hours and conditions

a couple in front of a solar home

So far, we have spoken about some of solar’s limitations. Now, let’s talk through solutions and how the many benefits of home solar make up for those limitations. 

Net Metering In Massachusetts

In Massachusetts, the state government and many local utility companies support net metering. Essentially, net metering allows solar system owners to send excess energy generated during peak hours back into the grid. In return, your utility company will grant you monthly credits. 

These credits carry over month-to-month and never expire. You can use these credits to help offset the costs of tapping into the grid, either during off-peak hours or sunlight restricting conditions.

For a full breakdown of net metering, be sure to read our article “What Is Net Metering In Massachusetts? And How Does It Work?”. 

Solar Battery Storage

Another solution is the addition of solar battery storage. Home battery storage has seen rapid advancement over the past few years. Those who currently have or plan to install solar panels in the future often have the option of adding a solar battery storage system.

Rather than immediately sending excess energy back into the grid, battery storage allows owners to store the extra energy created by your panels. 

Once this energy is safely stored, you can use it whenever you please–up to your model’s specifications, of course–meaning that you can access renewable energy during the nighttime hours, power outages, not-so-sunny weather conditions, etc.

Do the pros outweigh the cons? Yes!

bluesel home solar professionals at work

So while your solar panels do have some limitations in terms of weather conditions, the pros certainly outweigh the cons.

Home solar panels are about taking control of your home’s energy. When you have a solar system installed and with the right know-how, you can leverage the benefits of your panels in multiple ways, regardless of the weather, gaining you greater energy independence.

Are you thinking about going solar? Use our satellite tool to receive a free personalized solar estimate from BlueSel Home Solar.