Do Solar Panels Need Direct Sunlight?

Installing a residential solar panel system offers many benefits, from increasing the value of your home to reducing your monthly electric bills. However, as a homeowner considering adding solar panels to your home, you’re bound to have a few questions! One of the most common questions being “Do solar panels need direct sunlight?”

Many homeowners wonder if solar panels require direct sunlight to function effectively. Not sure if solar panels are right for you? Keep reading to learn more about how solar panels work in all weather conditions. Below, we’ll dive into the answer to one of the most commonly asked solar panel questions.

How Do Solar Panels Work?

To answer this question, it’s first important to have a baseline understanding of how solar panels function. Contrary to popular belief, solar panels do not function off of sunlight itself. Rather, they produce electricity from photons present in natural daylight. 

By harnessing the sun’s energy, solar panels can convert this energy to usable electricity for your home. The absorption process is known as a “photovoltaic effect”, sometimes abbreviated PV. The photons that solar panels require to work are present in both direct and indirect sunlight. 

Do Solar Panels Need Direct Sunlight?

Given that sunlight itself does not fuel solar panels, they do not require direct sunlight to work. You’re bound to have wondered: “do solar panels work in the shade?”. The short answer is yes. Of course, your home still needs energy on rainy or cloudy days! However, the answer to this question is not quite that simple. The efficiency of solar panels depends on the sunlight exposure

Do Solar Panels Work in the Shade?

Although solar panels will work in the shade, cloudy conditions are not optimal. Optimal conditions for solar panels include direct sunlight. Prolonged shady conditions will cause your energy panels to perform less efficiently. Due to changing shade levels during the day, most homes receive enough sunlight throughout the day to balance out appropriately. 

Solar Panels in the Clouds, Rain, and Snow

On a day with heavy cloud coverage, the clouds may block some of the sun’s energy from reaching your roof. Your solar panels will still work, however, they will function at a lower efficiency. In general, solar panels will produce only 10 to 25% of the electricity they can produce when compared to a very sunny day. This percentage will vary depending on the degree of cloud coverage.

dark clouds in sky

The rain itself will not affect the ability of your solar panels to function. However, with rain comes clouds! The combination of dark clouds from storms can cause your solar panels to produce a lesser output of energy. 

The same goes for snowy conditions, however, the accumulation of snow can pose a problem when sitting atop your solar panels. Heavy snow accumulation can block the ability of the panels to absorb energy. For this reason, solar panels are installed on an angle and heat up quickly to prevent heavy snow accumulation.

So, Do Solar Panels Really Need Direct Sun?

In summary, solar panels do not need direct sun to work. However, the amount of energy they will produce will correlate with the amount of direct sunlight they’re exposed to. The placement of your solar panel installation can help ensure they have the best chances of getting direct sunlight exposure. As such, choosing a knowledgeable and experienced solar panel installation company will help you get the most out of your solar panels. After all, solar panels are a smart investment for both your home and our environment.

Things to Consider Before Installing Solar Panels

Homeowners considering solar panels should consider the conditions and location of their homes before installation. For homes with limited or partial shade, specific types of solar panels may be more effective.

On average, four hours of direct sunlight is optimal for an efficient solar panel system. For this reason, solar panels remain a viable option for homeowners almost everywhere, despite weather conditions. The size of the solar panel system you’ll need will depend on the size of your home.

Father and daughter kneeling, holding a mini house with solar panels, pointing at it and smiling.

At SunTalk Solar, we use the most advanced and innovative technology available for solar panels. Our solar panel experts can help you choose the best technology for your solar panels to help you maximize efficiency, despite shadier conditions. 

Were you wondering “do solar panels need direct sun?” Rest assured solar panels will work even on the cloudiest of days.

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