Solar Panel, Cloudy Day: How Does It Work? | Simply Solar

As we head into this winter season, you may be asking yourself-  how well does solar work when it’s cloudy? Find out below.

Many of us prefer to be outside when it is sunny and bright, solar is the same way. The most productive solar days are sunny, and cloudless days; although just like us solar still functions when it is cloudy. Surprisingly enough, solar works great on foggy and cloudy days, this is because the ambient light emitted produces the solar panels with significant light to generate energy. In fact, the sun’s rays can hit your solar system in three different ways- through direct sunlight, diffuse sunlight, and reflected sunlight.

The most efficient fuel for a solar panel is ‘direct sunlight’- this is when the sun’s rays hit the solar system in a direct line, without any interruptions. Now, this may be the most efficient but it is certainly not the only way to generate electricity, nor the most practical. Glorious clear days are ideal, but unrealistic; therefore, there are two other ways that solar panels generate electricity when there are obstacles such as clouds. The second form of light that solar panels use to generate electricity is ‘diffuse sunlight’. This happens when the sunlight has collided with other objects, such as dust, clouds, rain, etc., and scattered before reaching your panels. Additionally, there is also ‘reflected sunlight’ in which the sunlight that hits your panels has previously bounced off the ground or buildings before hitting your solar panels.

Photovoltaic panels produce most effectively in direct sunlight, although they are designed to produce while using either direct or indirect light to generate power. In fact, solar panels are almost equally as efficient at cooler temperature than hot ones. A stunning example of this is Germany. Germany has cloudy weather most the year, yet they are the top country for solar energy usage. In fact, Germany gets about as much sunlight as Alaska does each year! Additionally, the United Kingdom is known for their dreary weather, but they just hit a milestone for producing more electricity from solar that the entire country’s coal fired power plants.
What really matters when it comes to solar panels is ‘total annual output’. Regardless of extended cloudy periods, a solar systems total annual output can still be excessive and produce more than a thousand dollars’ worth of electricity per year.