How Do Solar Panels Work in Cloudy Conditions?


Lower Power on Cloudy Days

  • On cloudy days solar panels will still do their job but not at full intensity as they would on bright, sunny days. About half as much electricity can be produced on cloudy days but if you are only trying to run one appliance (for example, your hot water heater), this is probably adequate voltage. On a very dark, gloomy day the solar cells may produce only about five to ten percent of the power they would normally create. During those days it is possible to use power that was stored in batteries on brighter days if there is extra voltage that was not used by the home.

Shut Off Unused Appliances

  • Chances are that there is not going to be a lot of left over voltage to be stored in batteries because many appliances all running at once can really use up a lot of juice. Solar cells can only create just so much power at one time and the usage in a typical home is unrelenting. It is a good idea to shut off as many appliances and electrical devices as possible and keep them unplugged when not in use, so that there may be a little extra voltage to be stored for those not-so-bright days to come.

Keep Your Local Utility

  • On darker days when the solar cells do not put out the kind of voltage that the typical home needs, being completely off-grid is not a good idea, unless you enjoy living in the dark ages. The local utility system can be helpful to fill in the void where the solar cells leave off. The best part is that on the bright and sunny days, the excess electricity is sent to the local utility grid, rolling back the numbers on the meter on your home.

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