This question is a constant concern for people considering to go Solar and it is completely understandable to worry about this. As clouds gather and hide the sun behind their curtain, you may be wondering: “How is a solar panel supposed to work without the sun?”.
Although solar panels need sunlight to produce energy, we must understand how cloudy days can affect the efficiency of solar-generated energy, and how elements as partial shade are reflected in your solar system power output.
Yes, your solar panels will continue to work on cloudy days, but they might generate less power. This will all depend on the quality and the efficiency of your panels.
But, how can they keep working if there is no sun? Well, this is because even if it’s cloudy, solar radiation penetrates through the clouds, reaching the panels which are designed to produce electricity from this radiation. It might generate from 10 to 25 percent less energy than the output you would get on a sunny day, depending on the quality of your solar panels and the cloud cover.
In order to get this clearer, here is a brief explanation of what solar panels use to produce energy. Solar PV (photovoltaic) panels work by transforming sunlight into direct current (DC), then an inverter converts that DC to alternating current (AC), which is the power most houses run on. Given the case that your solar system generates far more energy than you actually need, due to an extremely sunny day, that AC power would then go back to the grid to be used by the utility.
There are perfect examples that show the efficiency of solar power systems in cloudy environments. Germany, for instance, is famous for its lack of sunlight. Still, Germany is a leader in renewable energy, accounting for about 25 percent of the solar power output of the world. According to a recent Greentech Media article, the country achieved its strongest growth in half a decade last year.
So, don’t let cloudy days take away your intentions of going solar! It may rain, but going solar is not about the weather, is about helping the planet and saving you money on your energy costs.