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Solar Energy

Guide to Efficient Solar Panel Use (do solar panels work on cloudy days?)

May 22, 2019

Owning a solar panel system is a pretty sweet thing to own. You reduce wasted energy, generate clean energy, and it has become extremely affordable.

It’s a given that so many people who have all sorts of questions about solar panels like, how do solar panels work, do solar panels work at night or do solar panels need direct sunlight?

The list goes on and on, but it doesn’t have to.

Many of these questions can be answered with simple logic; and if now, let’s conceptualize a little about how solar panels work and what amount and type of lighting are needed in order to juice up your home or smartphone.

Besides wanting to know how solar panels work, many other inquiries pour in about how weather and time of day affect a solar energy system.

That’s going to be our main focus here when discussing solar panels in this article.

The Simplest Solar Panel Explanation Ever!

Before we dive in, let’s run through a quick refresher on how solar panels work in 3 simple steps:

  1. Solar panels absorb photons found in natural light using photovoltaic (PV) cells comprised of conductive elements and materials. Typically, silicon or cadmium tellurite is
  2. The collected photons run through the PV cells as a direct current (DC) and toward an inverter to be converted into alternating current (AC), which is what we use for energy in our homes and appliances.
  3. The converted energy is used according to what you need and if more is generated then it is stored back on the electrical grid.

Wow!

I don’t think it could have been made any easier to understand. That’s pretty straightforward and gives us the base we need to tackle these weather-related solar panel questions.

If you still desire a detailed explanation then check  our article about “How Do Solar Panels Work?”

Do Solar Panels Work in Cloudy Weather or Rain?

This is perhaps one of the most commonly asked questions and comes with a few angles of approach.

We know that solar panels rely on the photons produce in sunlight, but do solar panels need direct sunlight in order to produce enough energy and work properly?

Since solar panels rely on light energy in order to make usable electricity for us, it is logical that daylight of any kind hold a degree of solar radiation which can be used to make solar energy, but do solar panels work when it’s cloudy?

The short answer is yes, so do solar panels work on cloudy days and how efficient are they?

solar panels and rain

Clouds Stop Shading My Solar Panels: I’m Trying to Watch the Game!

Charging solar panels on a cloudy day can be a hit or miss endeavor. Many people often ask do solar panels charge on cloudy days and contrary to a majority of beliefs, the answer is yes, they can charge on cloudy days, but how efficient is it?

Depending on your energy consumption, on a typical cloudy day, your solar panels will only generate roughly 10-27% of what it normally would than if the Sun was out and pounding strong waves down to your solar panels.

So, in short, it works, just not as effective as a bright, clear and beautiful sunny day.

How Do Solar Panels Work in the Rain?

Are you one of those people who still have questions about how solar energy works, even in the rain?

Turns out, rain is not a bad guy, nor is it an element that will have a negative impact on your solar panels.

Just as it is refreshing on a hot Summer day, the rain actually helps clean build-up, dirt and other small debris that has collected on the panels.

This grime can be quite bad actually.

It can block the overall absorbency of your PV cells because the entire surface can become obstructed with a film that does not allow optimal or maximum light to pass through and into the panels.

That’s right.

I’m telling you that your solar panels like rain from time to time. It keeps your solar system running smoothly.

However, what happens if you barely get rain in your area or experience droughts that leave buildup across your panels?

The Solarimon solar panel system features a one-of-a-kind self-cleaning technology to ensure your panels stay grime and grit free. The solar panels are packed with a number of goodies.

From daily cleaning using purified water sent through a filtration system to SMART sensors that tell your solar panel system when it’s raining.

If it’s raining, the system will skip the cleaning and let the rain do the work.

Although rain does help keep your solar panels clean, the minerals and compounds found in the rain can leave spots and mineral smudges on your panels.

This is something the purified water doesn’t do.

Self-cleaning doesn’t seem that terrible now. Anything the rain didn’t take off, the system will the next day.

The reason solar panels work in the rain and on cloudy days is that whether it is direct or indirect sunlight, visible light contains some degree of usable photons. Your handy solar panels know this and work hard to utilize whatever light they get their hands on.

So, what about other weather conditions? Do solar panels work in the Winter?

Do I Need Special Solar Panels for the Winter?

Are you kidding me?

Why would you need to purchase special panels just for the Winter and how can the cold weather hurt your solar panels?

In short, it does not hurt your solar panels and yes your solar panels will work in the Winter without any special changes or new equipment.

In fact, the output from your solar panels can increase during the winter because of the reflective properties of the snow. This can improve the performance of your PV cells.

The only way Winter can harm your panels is if it is covered by snow or debris that blocks light from being absorbed. Environmentally and logically, Winter months will not hurt your panels nor the energy production of your solar panels.

Winter sounds awesome for solar panels, right?

Well, it really is because it also addresses another concern about do solar panels get hot?

Solar panels do get hot because they are absorbing light and generating energy, but they are usually tested and expect to stay in temperatures that range from 15 °C and 35 °C. In some cases, solar panels can get as warm as 60+°C.

At these high temperatures, your solar panels intake optimality is compromised and it will not be as efficient, but will still generate electricity.

Is there anything else that can affect your solar panels?

You bet your bottom dollar, so let’s jump right back in.

Do Solar Panels Store Energy for Night Use?

Ever wonder how solar-powered homes stay comfy and cozy even in the darkest of night hours? While this is no scientific phenomenon, it does answer if solar panels need batteries or not and do solar panels store energy?

In a typical scenario, traditional homes use some sort of solar energy system that connects their energy needs through a provider who monitors how much energy you generate. If you are using less electricity than you are generating, then excess if stored on a grid to be used later.

Solar panels themselves do not directly use batteries, so there is no need for them, however, external batteries can be used to store additional energy harvested during the day.

I know what you’re thinking now, and you are only half right!

Solar panel systems do store energy for use at night, but the panels themselves still do not store the energy. They simply capture active elements of visible light and send it through a process to be converted into useable energy.

This brings up another good question: Do solar panels work with moonlight?

Before we look directly at this question, let’s look back to what type of light solar panels capture.

Remember, there are active photons in visible light that solar cells respond to.

Direct and indirect sunlight have this quality, but does moonlight have it too?

This is a big fat NO!

Moonlight is an inverted reflection of existing light from the Sun. This illuminated light does not carry the same properties as natural light and cannot power solar panels to produce electricity.

While moonlight may not be able to power solar panels, did you know they can be powered in shaded areas?

Do solar panels work in the shade?

They most certainly do!

While they may not operate as efficiently as having direct sunlight or more natural light in general, shaded areas still exist based on lighting and the natural light by the sun provides photons even in shaded areas.

Sure, performance will be slowed, but even in the shade, solar panels have your energy needs covered! 😉

Finally, we’ve reached the bottom and you know exactly what type of lighting and how to maximize your solar panels to get the most effective collection, use, and storage out of your solar energy.

For any additional information or if you just want to say, feel free to leave us a comment. We’d love to hear your thoughts!

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