Do solar panels work when it’s cloudy? This is one of the most common questions which an electrical contractor is asked. It is interesting to note that the answer might surprise you. Believe it or not, modern panels can still generate up to 80 per cent of the energy that would be obtained on a sunny day.
Why is this the case? To better understand the notion of photovoltaics (solar power), it is first important to take a quick look at how these solar panels function. We can then move on to discuss why contemporary designs can provide a host of energy-saving benefits for your home; even if you happen to be enduring less-than-optimal weather conditions.
How do Solar Panels Work?
Why do solar panels work when it’s cloudy? The main principle behind any type of panel involves its ability to convert the rays of the sun (photons) into electrical power.
This photovoltaic (PV) energy is transformed into a type of electricity known as direct current (DC). A device within the panel known as an inverter thereafter changes direct current into alternative current (AC). AC is the most common form of electricity that homes throughout Ireland utilise.
As you might have already guessed, the number of panels will directly correlate with the amount of power that a home or business can generate. Most structures will require between six and 18 panels to meet their power needs. This depends on the size of the building, its use and its overall energy consumption. This is also why it is a good idea to speak with one of our domestic or commercial electricians to learn about what configuration is the most appropriate for your premises.
Do Solar Panels Work When It’s Cloudy?
Solar panels will become less efficient if they are not receiving direct sunlight. Two main factors influence how much power they can generate:
- The size, number, angle, and location of the panels.
- The amount of available sunlight.
This is when things get interesting. We need to highlight the fact that there are two types of solar rays. These are referred to as “daylight” and “sunlight”. Daylight is defined as any type of light that is present during the daytime hours (even if it is shining through the clouds). This is sometimes known as diffuse light. Sunlight instead refers to the direct rays emitted from the sun on a cloudless day.
If we take a moment to think about these two types of light, it will become clearer to understand the principles associated with solar panels. Many wavelengths of light are produced by the sun. Some of these can be seen while others (such as infrared and ultraviolet) are invisible to the naked eye. UV light is largely responsible for sunburns, as its wavelength can penetrate the clouds and reach the ground below. This is why there may be times when you can get a tan even on a cloudy day. This exact same light can help solar panels produce power if conditions are less than optimal.
The Role of Temperature
Why do solar panels work when it’s cloudy and mild? This is another question which warrants a closer examination. You may be surprised to learn that the output of solar panels will be influenced by outdoor temperatures. Studies have shown that they function at peak capacity when the temperature outside is 25 degrees Celsius or less. Therefore, it is advised to book a periodic inspection during times of the year when it is extremely hot. You will then be able to determine if your panels are functioning as they should be.
What About During the Overnight Hours?
As the earth is not receiving any radiation from the sun during the overnight hours, the panels will not function. So, why is it that a home completely powered by solar panels can still enjoy a steady supply of electricity in the evening? This is often the result of on-site solar battery banks.
Solar battery banks are frequently found within commercial settings, as the chances are higher that around-the-clock electricity will be required to power certain elements (such as stairway lighting and HVAC systems). An electrical maintenance specialist will install these smart devices so that customers can enjoy a steady source of power even when the sun goes down.
Another unique concept exists, known as “net metering”. In this case, any excess power that a solar panel generates will be sent back to the main grid. The customer then receives credit for supplying this energy. This credit can then be used to offset the cost of electricity.
Putting it All Together
Do solar panels work when it’s cloudy or overcast? The short answer is yes. Still, the main takeaway point is that they will not be able to generate as much electricity when compared to a bright and sunny day. This is not necessarily a bad thing, as even producing a smaller fraction can still help to lower your energy bills over time.
Another point to stress is that these panels can be used in conjunction with additional techniques such as EV charger installation services (if you happen to own an electric vehicle). This is an excellent way to reduce the carbon footprint of your property and to combat the ongoing effects of climate change.
Working with the Best in the Business: Contacting the Team at JK Services
Do solar panels work when it’s cloudy and if the units themselves are older? This answer should also be addressed by an experienced electrical maintenance specialist. There may be times when upgrading to a more modern panel will provide you with an energy-efficient edge. You will also be able to determine if the number of panels needs to be increased and if they are installed at the proper location.
The good news is that the team at JKS can provide you with a host of options regarding solar panels. We have been serving customers throughout Cork for over 35 years and our reputation continues to grow. Whether you want to learn more about solar power, SEAI grants or require additional services such as PAT testing or emergency maintenance, we are only a phone call away. Please take a moment to speak with one of our technicians. We will provide the answers that you are looking for.
We have more interesting blogs on similar topics such as ‘how to reduce electric bills in the winter‘, ‘how much does it cost to get a house rewired‘, or maybe you want to know ‘do solar panels work when it’s cloudy‘, ‘are solar panels worth it in Ireland‘, ‘are all electric car chargers the same‘ or ‘how much does it cost to charge an electric car‘. If so, read the blogs and find out from our experts at JK Services.