Solar panels are the most efficient on clear days with plenty of sunshine. But do they actually produce anything on cloudy days? Yes, but not to their optimum limit! On cloudy days, most solar panels are capable of producing up to 25% of their capacity. The exact figure will depend on the type of panel, cloud density, etc. Ultraviolet or UV light rays reach the earth’s surface in large amounts on cloudy days. As a result, many companies are now trying to develop panels that work to capture UV rays. This will be of great help for people living in areas with frequent fog such as Seattle and San Francisco.
One cloudy day doesn’t matter. It’s the total amount of sunshine over the course of a year.
When you’re considering how panels can reduce your electricity bill, you need to look at the amount of sunshine you’re getting in a single year and not just on a given day. If you generate more electricity than you need, your utility company will look at how much you’ve produced in a year and provide you with a payment.
Cloudy locations are great for solar.
Did you know Germany gets the same amount of sunshine as Alaska but the country has successfully implemented 25 gigawatts of solar energy? This is nearly half the world’s supply. In the United States, Portland, Oregon has some of the dreariest winters but it’s a great location for solar panels. Portland’s slightly cooler weather is great for the inner mechanicals in panels. In locations where there is extreme heat like Sacramento, solar panels are actually less efficient.
Take advantage of the “edge of cloud” effect.
If you closely examine how your solar panels work, they actually produce more energy on cloudy days. This is due to a natural phenomenon called “the edge of cloud”. As the sun is passing across the outer brink of a cloud, it magnifies the sunlight. This increase in light intensity causes temporary boosts in power output. It can actually help balance out any energy loss you may have experienced in the year. Cities that often receive partly-cloudy cover like Seattle, frequently experience this phenomenon.
So, do solar panels work effectively in cloudy conditions?
Yes, they most certainly do! It’s not how much you produce in a day, rather over the span of a year. Cloudy days will not affect your return on investment.
To learn more about the mechanics of solar panels on cloudy days, get in touch with OhSolarmio.