Pre-Qualify in 30 seconds 🔥
Fact Checked

How Solar Panels Work On Cloudy Days

Do solar panels work on cloudy days? Here’s what you need to know about solar panels and how they work. SmartSolar.org can help you get started.
Solar Panels
5 minutes
Written by:
Joey Cheek
Updated on:
November 30, 2022

As you think about adding solar panels to your home, you may be like many of the other clients at SmartSolar who have questions about the system's functionality. Do solar panels work on cloudy days? What if you don't have enough sunlight to power them? Understanding how solar panels work is very important – and it doesn't have to be too complex. When you invest in help from our team, you can have a solar system in place that you can rely on for ongoing solar electricity production to meet all of your needs.

SmartSolar offers the solar panel installation solutions you need. Contact us today to learn how we can help you to get your home or business on solar power in no time.

Do Solar Panels Work on Cloudy Days?

When there is rain, or there are a lot of clouds in the sky, the sun's direct sunlight is limited. That could mean that you do not have access to the solar power you need. However, that is not always the case. Today's photovoltaic solar panels can use both direct sunlight and indirect sunlight to produce electric power. Solar panel performance is always better when there is more direct sunlight. Yet, solar panels can still work when there is partial light.

If sunlight is being reflected or blocked partially by the clouds, most solar panels will continue to pull in solar energy. When it comes to rain, that is actually not a limitation either. Rain helps to ensure that the dirt and debris that lands on the solar panels is washed away, helping them to work better over time, according to SEIA.org.

Solar Panel Efficiency

If you are considering the investment in a solar PV system, be sure you consider the amount of solar energy storage the system offers. Panels work on cloudy days, but the amount of solar energy stored may be less during this time. When you have a strong enough battery storage system in place, you still have enough to generate the electricity your home needs, even when there is limited sunlight.

Knowing how much power you need when choosing solar systems is very important. This can help you to ensure you have a solar installation with enough panels to produce electricity that meets your home’s needs. The combination of a sufficient number of solar panels, proper solar battery design to store as much energy as possible, and good solar panel efficiency can help ensure your home doesn’t go dark when there’s cloudy weather.

What Happens If You Do Not Have Enough Solar Power?

There could be situations where your solar battery is not large enough to meet all of your needs when there is a significant period of cloudy weather. Remember that you are still connected to the electric grid. That means that when you do not have enough energy production from the photovoltaic cells in your system and cannot create energy for your needs, you can still pull power from the electric grid. That means that you may have higher electricity bills than if you were not using solar, but your electric bill is still going to be far more affordable.

Sell Power Back to the Grid

Energy savings can also work for you when you have excess electricity. For example, solar installations will use solar radiation to produce electricity for your home to use. When there is excessive solar power created, that goes to fill your solar battery. When you have enough power and still have more power available, you can sell that excess electricity back to the utility provider. This is called net metering, and it is available in many areas.

Joey Cheek

Frequently Asked Questions About Solar Panels

When it comes to how solar panels work and what you can expect from solar cells, SmartSolar can help you. Here are some answers to some common questions.

How Efficient Is a Solar Panel on a Cloudy Day?

Solar panel efficiency will differ from one solar system to another. However, for most solar cells, indirect sunlight situations, like on cloudy days, will lower the solar panel's efficiency to around 10 to 25 percent of their normal solar panel output. That may still be enough energy output to meet your needs over time when you combine it with the stored energy you have. High efficiency panels may be able to produce more for you, though even they will produce less power than peak sunlight production.

How Do Solar Panels Work if There Is No Sun?

When there is cloud coverage due to weather conditions, solar panels will work on indirect sunlight. However, if there is no sun due to significant cloud cover or even at night, the solar panel cannot produce power. In this situation, you will need to rely on the electric grid for any energy that you need beyond what is stored in your solar battery.

Which Solar Panels Work Best on Cloudy Days?

Most solar panels will be able to have power production on cloudy days. It is a good idea to consider the efficiency of the solar panels you select to ensure they are the best capable of taking advantage of partial shade or low light situations when there is cloud cover.Learn as much as you can about the solar panels we offer and how our solar panels work to meet your specific needs. You can have a solar panel system even if you do not have the best level of sunlight every day. 

Take the SmartSolar.org quiz and learn more about the benefits of installing solar panels.

Meet the author:

Joey Cheek

Joey Cheek spent 10 years on the US National Speedskating Team where he competed in two Olympic Games, winning gold, silver, and bronze medals. He attended Princeton before diving into the startup and tech world. In 2011 he launched a livestreaming platform for sports before leading a team of engineers building next-gen news and content apps for Fortune 100 companies. He is the CEO and co-founder of SmartSolar.org, whose mission is to move the earth to cheap, abundant, carbon-free energy.

Subscribe to our newsletter to stay up to date with the latest solar and environmental information:
Thank you! Your submission has been received!
Oops! Something went wrong while submitting the form.
Thank you! Your submission has been received!
Oops! Something went wrong while submitting the form.