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So you have finally invested in a 100W solar panel but you might be wondering what use it may have to you, if any, on a cloudy day.
After all, it is powered by the sun - and what can you actually power on your 100W panel? Can a 100-watt solar panel run a refrigerator? Can a 100watt solar panel run an air conditioner or is a 100W solar panel enough for a TV?
The good news is that your solar panel will still work even when it is overcast. The bad news is that it won’t function at its optimal capacity.
Before you invest in extra panels or move your solar panel around too much, let’s look at the exact output you can expect from a 100w solar panel on a cloudy day and the types of devices you can power on 100W even when the sun is not out.
What is the Output of a 100-Watt Solar Panel on a Cloudy Day?
Cloudy conditions can vary from being slightly overcast to extremely rainy conditions in which only a small amount of sunlight can be observed if any.
In general, solar panels get the most power from peak sun hours and the most at noon, when the sun is at its highest.
On a nice day, your panel will receive about four peak hours of sunlight (even on days when the sun is out for the entire day).
So, with an average of four hours of peak sunlight, a 100w solar panel can provide you with 6 amps in the full sun per hour or 30 amp-hours in a day, where amp-hours refer to one amp of current used in an hour.
When the weather is cloudy, this number can reduce by up to a quarter because your 100 Watt solar panel equals how many amps it will produce in off-peak sun hours and depend on how much sunlight it receives.
This reduction of sunlight can be quantified as receiving between a quarter or a tenth of the sunlight it will usually receive on a sunny day with peak sun hours.
A 100W solar panel’s output is also dependent on a variety of factors such as the battery charge, but generally speaking, you can expect between 6-8 amps per hour from a 12V battery system in good weather and far less in cloudy conditions.
On a slightly cloudy day, you can expect a 20% reduction in your output, and on an extremely rainy day, it can be reduced to up to 90%.
As a result, you can expect a maximum of 1,2 amp per hour or 6 amp-hours per day in cloudy conditions. This output is obviously far less than what you would want to get out of your solar panel, especially when you want to run multiple devices on it.
So, it would be wise to do two things when you are expecting cloudy conditions and you want to use a 100w solar panel.
Firstly, you need to invest in a solar panel that is designed to function in cloudy conditions, and secondly, you need to make provision for additional power by either utilizing battery storage or buying an additional 100W (or higher) solar panel.
How Do Solar Panels Work on Cloudy Days?
Solar panels’ functioning is based on the fact that they receive particles of sunlight, which are then converted into direct current (DC) before being transformed into alternating current or AC power by the inverter.
Now, you might be thinking that sunlight is a key ingredient to this process and that the absence of sunlight will mean that your solar panel will not be able to produce electricity.
But, in reality, most solar panels are designed to absorb particles of indirect sunlight, which refers to sunlight that shines through clouds in colder weather conditions.
You should realize that the amount of electricity produced is dependent on the amount of sunlight that the solar panel receives, which means that solar panels are affected by weather conditions.
Not only do solar panels still produce a charge on less-than-sunny days, but they’re also actually designed to withstand harsh weather conditions, so most solar panels won’t be damaged when left outside.
Solar panels undergo tests that examine their functionality during colder and stormier days, which means that your solar panel is designed to work in most weather conditions.
Solar panels even work in snowy conditions, if they are not covered in snow. Some solar panels are better designed to adapt to cloudier conditions so be sure to purchase one that will function per the weather in your area.
So What Can You Power with Your 100W Solar Panel on a Cloudy Day?
On a sunny day, with a 100w solar panel functioning at optimal capacity, you can power many various small devices such as laptops, fans, WiFi, cellphones, and lighting. So is a 100w solar panel enough for an RV? Probably not.
You might want to power larger devices, such as TVs and refrigerators, so you will need more panels or a panel with a larger wattage.
Similarly, on a cloudy day, you can power small devices but probably only one at a time, depending on how adverse the weather conditions are and how much sun exposure your solar panel gets.
100 Watt Solar Panel Output on a Cloudy Day (FAQ)
How many watt-hours of energy is produced by a 100w solar panel?
In general, a 100W solar panel will produce about 400-watt hours of energy during a normal sunny day with decent sun exposure. As mentioned here, this number can decrease significantly with a reduction in sun exposure or cloudy weather.
Do solar panels work at night?
The short answer is no. Solar panels depend on sun photons to charge the electrons on their surface so that they can produce power and there is no sunlight in the evening. So, even though your solar panel will work in cloudy weather, it will stop working at night,
Do solar panels work in the shade?
As is the case with cloudier conditions, solar panels can still work when exposed to indirect sunlight so if it is placed in partial shade, caused by trees or other structures, your panel will still work, but it will function at a lower capacity than normal.
Take caution to not put your solar panel in a completely shaded area though because this will adversely affect the functioning of your solar panel and the corresponding output.
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