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Do Solar Panels Work on Cloudy Days

By Benjamin Strusnik February 15, 2022

Do Solar Panels Work On Cloudy Days

Every day more and more people are buying solar panels. Solar panels come with exceptional benefits. They can lower your utility bills, save the environment and generate free electricity for years to come.

Even though solar panel technology isn't new, many people still don't know how solar panels work.

For instance, they'll look at these 200W solar panels and ask us, do solar panels work on cloudy days? 

does solar panel work at night

Let's look at what solar panels are, how they work, and shed some light on all your burning questions.

What Are Solar Panels?

Solar panels are innovative, eco-friendly devices that capture sunlight and convert it into free electricity. A single solar panel is often powerful enough to power a small appliance and an array of them strung together in series can power an entire house. 

You can easily connect several solar panels to increase the free electricity they generate. In other words, with more solar panels, you'll be able to power more appliances. 

You'll often see large buildings with several solar panels. These solar panels generate enough electricity to power the entire building while lowering its utility costs.  

How Do Solar Panels Work?

Typically a solar panel is made up of several solar cells. These solar cells capture light particles, known as photons, and convert them into direct current (DC) electricity. 

The energy from light is known as photovoltaic (PV) energy. You can think of it in simpler terms as "light electricity". 

That brings us to the following question. If solar panels require sunlight to generate power, do solar panels work on cloudy days? 

The short answer is that solar panels work on cloudy days.

Why Do Solar Panels Work on Cloudy Days?

Even with the worst storms overhead, sunlight still manages to filter through the clouds, no matter how thick those clouds are. It's this sunlight that provides your solar panels with more than enough light to convert into valuable electricity. 

does solar panels work at night

On a mainly overcast day, you can expect your solar panels to produce around 10% to 25% less power than they usually would. This reduction in efficiency is perfectly normal.

So, on a cloudy day, your solar panels will continue to work, though they'll be less effective than on a sunny, clear day.

Does It Make Sense to Have Solar Panels in a Cloudy Climate?

While solar panels work best on sunny days, they don't necessarily perform better in hot climates. 

In fact, most solar panels become less efficient when the ambient temperature goes above 77 degrees Fahrenheit. You'll have to check with your supplier to determine how your solar panel operates in hot climates.

These temperature restrictions mean a solar panel in cloudy and cooler San Francisco will outperform a solar panel in sunny, hot Las Vegas.

The cooler temperatures in San Francisco will keep the solar panel working at optimal efficiency. That's why solar panels are pretty popular in cloudy cities, such as Seattle and Portland. 

You don't have to worry, though. Solar panels work in a variety of climates and conditions. This profound flexibility makes them an excellent investment. 

If you're curious about what other weather conditions solar panels will work in, read our guides on whether solar panels work in the winter and if they work in the rain

You'll be pleasantly surprised to learn how capable solar panels are!

If solar panels can produce reliable power under various weather conditions, can they provide electricity at night? What happens to solar panels at night? Let's find out!

Can Solar Panels Work at Night?

The short answer is no. Solar panels won't work at night. Since they require a powerful light source, such as the sun, they won't have enough light to convert into power at night. 

does solar panels work on cloudy days

Do solar panels work with moonlight?

Although they can generate some power from other light sources, such as a full moon, or even street lights, this power output is simply too low to be of any use. In this case, a solar panel goes into sleep mode and stops producing electricity.

Why Do Some Homes with Solar Panels Have Power at Night?

Solar panels produce a lot of electricity during the day — even more so when it's a clear sunny day outside. 

To make the most of this extra power, people will often install a solar battery to store this excess energy. This solar battery provides their home or building with electricity during the night.

What is a solar battery?

A solar battery is a pretty straightforward device. Like the battery on your cellphone, car, or laptop, it stores electricity so that you can use it later to power some type of device.

Since solar panels produce so much energy during the day, you can store that energy in a solar battery. At night, when the solar panels don't make any electricity, you can power your appliances using the stored energy inside the solar battery. 

Does It Matter What Brand of Solar Panel I Use in Cloudy Weather?

It certainly matters what brand and quality solar panel you have. The quality of the solar panel will determine its efficiency in low-light conditions. Poor quality products will fare worse in severe weather conditions. 

can solar panels work at night

Some solar panel manufacturers even produce unique solar panels that operate better in low-light conditions. They can also make solar panels that can withstand hail damage or function better in high temperatures. 

So, suppose you want to enjoy a robust, capable solar panel that won't lose its efficiency when the weather turns bad. In that case, you need to find a reliable solar panel.

Recap: Will Solar Panels Work on Cloudy Days?

Let's summarize what we've learned about solar panels and how they work under different weather conditions. 

  • Solar panels will work on cloudy days.
  • Solar panels can even work on rainy days.
  • Solar panels work better in cooler temperatures.
  • Solar panels will not work at night.
  • You can store electricity generated by a solar panel in a solar battery to power your house or appliances at night.
  • The brand and quality of the solar panel will impact its effectiveness.

Final Thoughts

If you're curious to learn more about solar panels, please read our other guides, such as whether solar panels work underwater. You could also check out our free solar learning center

The more you learn about the wonderful world of solar power, the better informed you'll be when deciding to add a solar system to your house or business. 

Otherwise, feel free to contact us at Shop Solar Kits. We have over 15 years of experience in the solar panel industry. We love to share our hard-won knowledge with fellow solar power enthusiasts!

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