Do Solar Panels Work on Cloudy Days?

Do Solar Panels Work on Cloudy Days?

Tampa Bay gets a lot of sunshine, not only making it an amazing city to live and work in but also giving it the ideal atmosphere for solar panels.  However, Tampa also gets its fair share of cloudy days or partly cloudy days, which can cover up to 40% or 70% of the sky. So, do solar panels work on cloudy days?

The short answer is yes, solar panels do still work on cloudy days, but their energy output is lower than on clear, sunny days. Cloud cover limits the amount of sunshine reaching solar panels, lowering their effectiveness in generating electricity.

If you’ve ever gone to the beach or gone fishing while it was overcast and still got a bit of a sunburn, you’ll understand why solar panels work on cloudy days.  Solar panels use the sun’s rays to produce electricity, not the sun’s light.  

The solar panels we use at Expert Solar, on the other hand, are engineered to be efficient even in low-light settings, and they can generate some power even on cloudy days.  Generally speaking though, the amount of electricity that is produced by solar panels when it’s cloudy will be determined by several factors, including the type and quality of solar panels, the thickness of the cloud cover, and the angle and orientation of the panels.

While solar panels create more power on clear, sunny days, they can also provide power on cloudy days.  At Expert Solar, we take this factor into account when designing your solar panel system so that it can still offset 100% of your power needs, despite cloudy days.

How Are Solar Panels Still Able to Work on Cloudy Days?

In addition to telling you that, “yes”, solar panels still produce electricity on cloudy days, I also wanted to give you a brief explanation of how.

As I mentioned above, even on cloudy days solar panels can still operate because they can capture part of the sun’s rays that seep through the clouds. Photons in the sun’s rays contain energy, and solar panels use the photovoltaic effect to turn those photons into electricity.

Photovoltaic (PV) cells, which are constructed of layers of materials such as silicon that can absorb photons and emit electrons, are used in solar panels. When sunlight strikes the PV cells, some photons are absorbed by the silicon atoms, causing electrons in the silicon to be liberated from their atoms. These liberated electrons are then gathered by the cell’s conducting plates, resulting in an electrical current.

On a cloudy day, fewer direct rays reach the solar panels, but some photons from diffuse light can still be absorbed by the silicon atoms in the PV cells, causing electrons to be released and energy to be generated.

Depending on the kind of panels you have, on cloudy days, the amount of electricity generated by solar panels may be less than on clear, sunny days. This is because the intensity of the sunshine has decreased, making solar panels less efficient at converting photons into power.

Contact us if you have any other questions about solar panels or making the switch to solar.  Expert Solar has experienced professionals standing by to help provide you with any information you need to decide whether solar panels are right for your home. We look forward to speaking with you soon!

Ricardo Del SolArticle by
Ricardo Del Sol
Editor, Expert Solar
(800) 340-0681