Do Solar Panels Produce Electricity When It Is Cloudy?

The Most Comprehensive DIY Solar Panel GuideQuestion: Solar energy has interested me for awhile, but I don’t live in a climate that is sunny year-round. Do solar panels produce electricity when it is cloudy?

Answer: Yes, in fact solar panels do still work when it’s cloudy, or when the sun has set for the evening. How is this possible? Solar systems use arrays of batteries that are charged during the day when the sun is still shining its energy down on your solar PV panels, and then your household can run off of those arrays of batteries at night while the sun is no longer present.

It’s important to make sure your solar system matches your household’s energy needs, or you do run the risk of depleting those batteries before the sun rises. There are several tools available on the internet to calculate how much energy your system should be designed to produce.

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For grid-tied systems, in which you are still connected to the utility company’s power source, but you only use it when your solar system is not available, the answer is slightly different. In those types of systems, when your solar system is unavailable, your household automatically switches over and uses power from the electric company until your solar system becomes available again.

Grid-tied systems also allow you to sell back electricity you don’t use to your utility company (if they allow it) for a credit. There are also newer systems that are both grid-tied and contain battery arrays. In this case, you would still be covered when it’s cloudy. You would then rely on your batteries and only switch back to the grid when your batteries are depleted.

No matter what system you choose, DIY installation kits are available to help reduce initial costs.

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