Do solar panels produce electricity when it’s overcast? The answer to this question is somewhat complicated, but the short answer is yes. Solar panels are designed to function in any weather condition and may generate power on days when there is rain or snowfall. Rain or snow, on the other hand, will reduce your energy production.
How Solar Panels Work on Cloudy Days
Solar panels are often known as photovoltaic (PV) solar panels. They can generate electricity using both direct and indirect sunlight, which is helpful in areas where there is cloud coverage. When using the term “solar panel,” it’s important to note that they’re most efficient and productive on sunny days when they’re absorbing direct sunshine.
Solar cells still produce energy when the light is reflected or partially blocked by clouds, but their energy output capacity will be reduced. Solar panels will generate 10 to 25% less electricity than usual on days with heavy cloud coverage.
On the other hand, Clouds are far more likely to result in rain, and here’s a truth that may surprise you: rain helps solar panels work more efficiently. That’s because it washes away any dirt or debris collected on your panels, allowing them to absorb more sunlight.
Do Solar Panels Work at Night?
Solar panels can produce electricity when there is sunlight. But they can’t work at night because they need light to make electricity. Without light, the photovoltaic effect cannot be triggered, and no electricity will be produced.
Solar Power for Home Use: Storing Energy to Use on Cloudy Days and at Night
Your solar panels may produce more power during peak sunshine hours than you need. This extra energy might be used to supplement power on overcast days or at night. However, how can you store this energy for later usage? There are a few things to think about:
A solar battery can be used to store extra energy.
When you combine a solar battery with your home solar installation, you may store any extra electricity generated and use it during hours of poor sun exposure, including nighttime hours and when the sky is cloudy.
Batteries may power your solar PV system all day long, but there are some drawbacks to keep in mind:
- It’s another thing you’ll need to set up.
- It adds to the total cost of your solar system.
- Batteries will take up some room.
- If you want electricity for more than a few hours, you’ll probably require multiple batteries.
A net metering program can help you utilize solar power more efficiently
Solar customers are provided with net metering programs, which allow them to send any extra power their system creates back into the local electric grid for credits. Those credits may be used to offset your electrical expenses on overcast days or at night when you can’t rely just on solar energy to power your home.
Net metering can potentially be a cost-effective alternative, but there are a few drawbacks to consider:
- Your local electric service provider must grant net metering.
- If you generate more electricity than you need, it will not always offset the cost of energy provided from the grid at night and on overcast days. However, if there is still a credit left over, you may receive a check from your utility company for whatever is left.
- It only works if your state and local government support it.
- You will likely be required to install a smart meter that communicates with your solar installer and utility company for this system to work correctly.