Do Solar Panels Make Electricity on Cloudy Days?

Jun 1, 2021Solar0 comments

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The short answer is, “Usually.”

What does the sky look like today? Do you see full sun, puffy clouds, menacing thunderheads, a thin veil of white, or a thick blanket of grey? Though photovoltaic panels produce the most electricity in direct sunlight, they can generate energy on overcast days, too. It depends how cloudy it is. Output may decrease anywhere from 10% to 100%.

I know that’s quite a range, but I’m guessing that you, like me, have accidentally gotten a sunburn on an overcast day. The nature of the clouds really does make a difference.

So we provide solar systems that address Connecticut’s weather in four ways:

  1. We use microinverters on each panel. Inverters convert the DC electricity produced by solar panels into the AC electricity we use in our homes. Some companies use a single inverter for the entire system. Those systems are very inefficient: If the production on even one panel is reduced by clouds or shade, the entire system’s output suffers. Using a microinverter on each panel, on the other hand, maximizes the output of every panel and increases your overall electricity production. Learn more here.
  2. We use advanced software that helps us understand how much sun your roof receives over the entire year. That allows us to determine how many and what kind of solar panels will meet your annual electricity needs.
  3. We offer highly efficient panels designed to capture the most sunlight from overcast skies. They capture more wavelengths and can even produce electricity from sunlight reflected on them.
  4. Your solar system’s monitoring app tells you exactly how much or how little your system is generating at any given moment. It won’t take you long to guesstimate production based on a glance at the sky.

By the way, it’s not just sunshine that makes rooftop solar a big money saver in Connecticut. We suffer from some of the highest utility electricity rates in the country. Homeowners in places like Arizona and New Mexico have much cheaper utility electricity, so they save only a little money by going solar. Not us: solar electricity is about HALF the price of utility electricity in CT!

So the next time it rains, don’t envy people living in perpetually sunny places. The rain is washing your panels clean for free and keeping them operating efficiently. Our clients typically produce as much electricity as they use each year and, thanks to net metering, pay their utility company about $0 annually for electricity!

If you have more questions, please visit our Learning Center, download the EcoSmart Solar 101 e-book, or talk to one of our solar consultants. Contact us today!