Solar Power Generation and Cloudy Days

Tuesday, June 25, 2019

If you’re considering a solar or photovoltaic (PV) system for your home, you may wonder how much energy a solar array can generate on cloudy days. After all, solar panels need sunlight to generate energy. Overcast conditions can therefore affect a solar array’s efficiency in terms of energy generation and output. While solar panels still work in cloudy conditions, they generate and output less energy compared to their original efficiency. Yet, cloudy conditions shouldn’t be your primary concern when it comes to efficiency. Discover how solar energy is still generated during cloudy conditions below.

How Solar Panels Generate Energy on Cloudy Days

From a scientific standpoint, the way solar panels generate energy on cloudy days is simple: sunlight still penetrates the clouds, so solar panels produce electricity even in overcast conditions. Of course, cloud coverage does reduce the panels’ efficiency and energy output.

Partial Shading: A Bigger Challenge than Cloudy Conditions

If you have a general idea of how solar power works, then you may know that partial shading reduces energy generation more than clouds. Even though solar systems are designed to combat the effects of shading, solar radiation can’t pass through physical objects the way it passes through clouds. Thus, a tree or other structure could prevent sunlight absorption. This effect could be amplified on cloudy days, and as a result, there may not be enough energy production to power your entire home. Fortunately, the simple solution is to design your system around any possible shading issues.

PV Systems Work Well in Cloudy Locations

Canadians will be delighted to learn that solar panels are actually most effective in cold environments. And, as discussed above, they also work well in cloudy locations. So, your PV system will still produce electricity in foggy, rainy, and snowy conditions. Improved efficiency and power generation means reduced energy costs, and these advantages are realized no matter how much or little sunlight your area experiences. As long as you’ve avoided partial, even widespread cloud coverage won’t affect your system’s ability to generate power and save you money.

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