Myth #4: Solar Panels Don’t Work in Overcast Conditions

When we think about the power of the sun, one of the things we think gets in the way, are the clouds. Or the weather. And that’s how we base our perspective on Solar at times … or some people do. There is this prevailing attitude or idea that Solar doesn’t work on an overcast day, and that sometimes the weather will create a situation whereby if you were relying on Solar Power from the sun, you might not get it. And then you would be stuck!

What has happened here, is that we have taken something like, getting burned by the sun, and used it to toss out the ability for the suns rays, and effectively the power absorbed by solar panels, to be defused by clouds, or rain, or whatever it is you are looking at on an overcast or gloomy day. And that simply isn’t the case. But, if it were … Solar Panels are still storing up energy to place into a system, so that when you need the power, you can draw from it. Some people will utilize a battery backup, and others will use the grid. Whatever system it is you are storing your energy in, should probably be the same system you draw from when you need some power.

Is this wrong? No, it’s the idea that it’s not always going to be perfect. I mean, if you reside in sunny San Diego, there are still days when you aren’t going to draw as much power from the sun. These days are few and far between, so you can rest easy knowing that your power is being stored … somewhere. The grid is an excellent place to store it, since it is used by others — namely those other Solar Energy System Homeowners.


Do Solar Panels Work During Nighttime?

How do solar panels work at night and on cloudy days?

Solar panels require sunlight to generate electricity for your home so they do not work in darkness. Thus — the simple answer to this question is no. The confusion around solar working at night is often due to the concept of solar storage, which allows homes to still have energy supply at night.

The purpose of a solar panel system is to absorb sunlight, also know as photovoltaic energy (PV), and convert it to direct current (DC) power. The DC power is sent through the system’s inverter to be converted to alternating current (AC) power, which is the type of power that most households run on. At that point, your solar array can feed electricity into your home. If it is producing more electricity than you need, the excess is fed back into the electric grid.

Since solar panels can only produce power during the day, the question then becomes “how will solar panels provide power overnight when there is no sunshine?” There are two primary solutions that help to resolve that problem. Net metering and solar-plus-storage technology allow your solar panel system to access electricity overnight when solar panel production is dormant, either through connection to the electric grid or to a battery. Thanks to grid connections and solar energy storage, solar panels are a sustainable round-the-clock energy solution.

Energy Sage


How Much Do Clouds Matter?

How Much Do Clouds Matter?

The thing is, when clouds cover the sun, the solar system doesn’t stop working producing power. It just reduces the output of energy. The thicker the clouds, the less power the system will produce. Yet when the sun shines through the clouds, solar panels still get direct sunlight plus light reflected from the clouds. Amazingly, you can get more solar energy out of a cloudy day than a sunny one!

Take a look at solar energy around the world. Not every single country has the same weather as the U.S. For example, Germany has lots of cloudy weather, but they’re the top country for solar energy usage. Just because you live in a cloudy area doesn’t mean those solar panels aren’t going to work. They’re just not going to perform at their peak. So don’t worry too much about the weather — just enjoy the sunny days, and know that your energy bill is still lower thanks to renewable solar energy.

UnderstandingSolar

Germany’s 2014 Eclipse Caused a Rapid Solar Power Decrease/Increase

Germany’s eclipse in 2014 caused a rapid decrease in solar power supply, followed by a rapid increase

Germany has more installed solar power capacity than any other nation. That led to worries that Friday morning’s solar eclipse might destabilize the power network. Network operators prepared carefully for the event.

At 38.5 gigawatts of capacity — nearly half of Europe’s total of 89 gigawatts — Germany has more solar PV installed than any other nation. With Friday a bright sunny day, there were worries ahead of time about the consequences of the solar eclipse scheduled to occur in the morning. Engineers knew it would cause a massive, sudden drop in solar electricity input — followed by a massive increase when the eclipse came to an end later in the morning.

There had never been such a massive and rapid drop and rapid increase in solar power before in Germany. The eclipse cut off 65 to 80 percent of incoming sunlight, depending on one’s vantage point.

DW

But, wait a minute, you said that they doing a lot of things with Solar in Germany. Isn’t Germany overcast most of the time? How does that work? How does Germany get away with having overcast weather and efficiency in Solar Energy?

Wait a minute! I thought Germany was always overcast?

Germany is a solar powerhouse. But why is it so much better than say, Arizona?

Ok, so if you’ve ever been to continental Europe you know what the weather is like: cloudy with a chance of showers.

But the truth is, solar panels can be even more efficient and have higher output in cloudy weather than in blazing sun.

The truth is, as long as the panels aren’t hit by full shade, e.g. a tree or some kind of debris is physically covering them, they’re going to produce power.

For more information on this: Do Clouds Really Affect Solar Panel Output?


So, back to our Myth. The myth is debunked. We can actually grab more energy on an overcast day rather than a full blown sunny day because the efficiency of the output; so long as we don’t have shade on all of our panels.

If you need more information on specific questions you might have for Solar Panels, or Solar Panel Installation, I recommend you call the good folks at Pingo Solar. They have been putting together affordable, and durable Solar Panel Installations for Orange County, San Diego County, Riverside County, and more recently in San Bernardino County. Just give them a call by clicking on this link, and providing a few details on the contact us page.

The Pingo Blog

America’s #1 Way to Go Solar Online

Welcome to a place where words matter. On Medium, smart voices and original ideas take center stage - with no ads in sight. Watch
Follow all the topics you care about, and we’ll deliver the best stories for you to your homepage and inbox. Explore
Get unlimited access to the best stories on Medium — and support writers while you’re at it. Just $5/month. Upgrade