Do Photovoltaic Panels Work in Cloudy Weather?

Photovoltaic panels function best when the sky is clear and the sun is shining brightly.

photovoltaic panels

So what happens when our weather here in the Intermountain West turns cloudy? Will your photovoltaic array stop powering your home?

How Cloudy Weather Affects Photovoltaic Panel Output

Your solar array will continue to produce electricity during cloudy weather; the energy output will simply be reduced.

Clouds affect your photovoltaic panels’ ability to harness the optimal amount of energy, but solar cells are designed to capture any available light — even if it’s not direct sunlight.

When the weather turns cloudy, the sky may be grayer and darker, but the solar panels in your photovoltaic array will take whatever light there is and convert it into electricity for your home.

If that isn’t enough power to meet your household consumption that day, electricity from the utility grid will supply you with the extra energy you need. If your solar panels are not connected to the grid, you can get your energy from your battery storage system or generator.

Clouds’ Effect Minimal on Photovoltaic Panel Savings

While sunny days provide you with optimal energy production, a few days of cloudy weather now and then really won’t have much of an effect on your overall solar power savings.

Photovoltaic array design is based, at least in part, on insolation, or incoming solar radiation. Insolation is the measurement of the amount of sunlight at a particular location over the course of a year.

By calculating your home’s insolation rating, a professional solar contractor can design your photovoltaic array to meet your needs based on your area’s annual available sunlight.

So the average number of cloudy days at your location was already taken into consideration when your system was created.

Photovoltaic Panels Benefit from Cumulus Clouds

Most types of cloudy weather can hinder solar panel output to some degree. But if the clouds are white and fluffy and resemble cotton, you may see a burst of energy from your photovoltaic panels instead of a drop.

Cumulus clouds reflect and concentrate sunlight, magnifying its power. This is referred to as the edge-of-cloud effect. In fact, this weather condition can help balance out energy losses you may see from overcast days.

To learn more about how much money you can save with solar energy, contact Intermountain Wind & Solar today. Homeowners and businesses throughout Utah, Idaho, Colorado, Nevada and Wyoming trust our professional team to design optimal renewable energy solutions. We look forward to helping you learn more about our cost-effective options for photovoltaic panel systems.