The Truth About: Do Solar Panels Need Direct Sunlight?

There are a variety of circumstances that could prevent solar panels from receiving direct sunlight. They might be in the shade because of nearby buildings or trees, they might be facing the opposite direction of the sun, or they might just be affected by the weather, which might include clouds, rain, or snow.

What happens to photovoltaic (PV) modules, which are more commonly known as solar panels, when they aren’t exposed to direct sunlight? When trying to determine whether or not you should get solar panels, how much weight should you give factors such as the amount of shade present and the weather?

Do solar panels need to be under direct sunlight regularly? 

Solar panels produce the most power when exposed to direct sunlight, but they can also very well function when not exposed to sunlight.

Solar panels are able to generate electricity by utilizing both direct and indirect sunlight as inputs in the production process. Both visible light and infrared light contain photons, which are the building blocks that solar panels use to produce electric current.

Solar panels can generate electricity from sunlight that isn’t directly hitting them even when there isn’t enough direct sunlight available.

In spite of this, there will be a reduction in performance when there is no exposure to direct sunlight. This is due to the fact that solar panels require 1000 W/m2 of sunlight in order to reach their maximum output, and that level of sunlight can only be attained when there is unobstructed direct sunlight.

Do solar panels work in the shade? 

Solar panels can still produce some electricity even when they are shaded, but the amount of current they produce will be significantly lower than it would be under ideal conditions.

The precise effect that shading has on your solar power system is determined by a number of factors, including the following:

–  The length of time that your solar panels are shaded. The longer your solar panels are shaded, the greater the drop in electricity production will be. It is important to keep in mind that the ever-shifting trajectory of the sun’s rays will result in varying degrees of sunlight and shade from one day to the next.

–  Solar panel technology. Newer solar panels that use half-cut photovoltaic cell technology are designed to reduce the impact of partial shade. This technology is used in solar panels. On the other hand, this is not the case with standard solar panels ( panels that do not utilize PV cells that have been cut in half).

–  Configuration of the inverter. When a central string inverter is used, the amount of power produced by the solar array will be affected when a single panel is shaded. In contrast, with systems that use MLPEs, also known as microinverters or DC power optimizers, shade on a single panel has no effect on other panels and causes only a slight reduction in the amount of energy that is produced.

If you want to install solar panels on your roof, the first thing you need to do is evaluate the amount of shade that will be present there. Installing solar panels that make use of half-cut solar cells and that are connected to MLPEs (module level power electronics) can help you minimize the output losses you experience if you anticipate only limited or partial shade. If there is a lot of shade on your roof, you might want to consider whether or not it is a good idea to install solar panels there at all.

A professional solar installer is able to determine how much shade a specific section of your roof will receive over the course of a year, as well as assist you in calculating the output of your solar panels and the amount of time it will take for those panels to pay for themselves.

Solar Panels in the Shade

The effects of weather on solar panels’ energy production 

Solar panel production can be significantly influenced by the prevailing weather conditions. Both direct and indirect sunlight can be diminished by weather conditions such as clouds, rain, and snow, which in turn hinders the production of solar power.

  1. On cloudy days 

Cloudy days don’t prevent solar panels from producing some energy, but it won’t be nearly as much as it would be on a sunny day. This is due to the fact that clouds prevent some of the heat from the sun from reaching your roof

Your solar panels’ power output during cloudy conditions can range anywhere from 10% to 60% of their normal maximum capacity, depending on the density of the cloud cover.

  1. Does it work when it’s raining? 

The amount of energy produced by solar panels is impacted more by the dense cloud cover that occurs alongside rain, rather than the rain itself. Rain clouds that obscure the sky and reduce the amount of available sunlight will cause the system’s output to drop by 40–90%.

Even though precipitation can cause short-term output losses, rainfall actually has a positive side effect: it helps to clean the solar panels. This is despite the fact that precipitation can cause short-term output losses. If you live in an area that is prone to having dust storms, the increase in solar output that a good rainstorm can provide can be significant.

  1. Does it work when it snows? 

In the event that the snowfall isn’t too intense, solar panels can still generate electricity even when it’s snowing outside.

Your solar panel system will continue to generate solar electricity even if there is a light dusting of snow on the ground because sunlight can pass through the snow. And contrary to popular belief, cold weather is actually beneficial for solar panels, as it stops them from overheating and consequently losing efficiency.

On the other hand, a significant accumulation of snow would obscure the sun and significantly reduce the amount of energy that could be produced. The good news is that this scenario doesn’t happen very often because solar panels are very good at keeping snow off of them. This is because they are slippery, warm up as they take in more heat, and are typically set up at a certain angle during installation.

Seeing the return of your investments 

There needs to be an average of four peak sun hours per day in order for a solar renewable energy system to be profitable. This is the rule of thumb that is generally followed.

Four peak hours are equivalent to four thousand watt-hours of cumulative solar radiation over the course of a day. When determining whether or not solar power is cost-effective for a home’s energy needs, homeowners should look at a number of factors in addition to the amount of sunlight available. When determining how long it will take for your investment to pay for itself, you should factor in not only the rates charged by the utilities in your area but also any incentives offered by the state.