Do solar panels work when it’s cloudy?

Do Solar Panels Work When It’s Cloudy

When most people think about solar power generation, they think about the hot weather when they can take full advantage of their home’s solar PV system. However, what happens during overcast days? Do solar panels work when it’s cloudy? 

The short answer is yes but with some caveats. 

This blog post explores these conditions and how they affect solar panel efficiency, as well as how to maximize the performance of your solar system during cloudy weather. So whether you’re considering installing solar panels or just want to learn more about them, read on!

Do solar panels work on cloudy days?

There’s a common misconception that solar panels can’t generate power during cloudy days – but they can. Solar power output, however, will be reduced relative to sunny conditions. Nevertheless, solar power will still be a viable source of energy for your home or business. 

For one, solar panels can still generate energy with indirect sunlight, so it can still produce electricity even on rainy or cloudy days. 

Moreover, in the moments when sunlight does make direct contact with your solar panels, it will still be able to knock electrons loose from their atoms which, in turn, produces electricity. 

We have a full article on how solar panels work if you want to dig deeper. But, really, all this means is that solar panels will still save you money compared to relying solely on power companies, regardless of the slight drop in efficiency. This brings us to the next part…

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How efficient are solar panels during rainy/cloudy days?

A Solar PV system can lose about 10-25% of their potential solar panel output in cloudy weather. In other words, solar panels operate at roughly 80% efficiency, even on overcast days.

However, your solar power performance depends on two things:

1. The amount of sunlight hitting solar systems

Solar energy generation changes depending on the intensity of sunlight it receives. 

So, understandably, the energy your system produces will be slightly less when the sun hides behind the clouds. Luckily, weather conditions change throughout the day, so solar panels will still be able to produce more energy when the sun shines at its peak. 

2. The size of your solar panel system

Solar panels are like windows. The bigger the window, the more sunlight they take in. 

That being said, a larger system will be able to produce more electricity regardless if it’s cloudy, snowing, or raining simply because it’s capable of collecting more sunlight. 

If you’re thinking about getting solar panels installed, I highly recommend oversizing your system for this reason. When you size up enough, you might not even have to pay a single dollar when your quarterly power bill arrives. 

For further reading: Here’s how much money you can save with solar panels in Australia

How to maximize your solar panel’s performance on cloudy or rainy days

1. Reap the benefits of the “Cloud Edge Effect” 

The Cloud Edge Effect makes it possible to offset the reduced solar panel performance during cloudy days.

This phenomenon occurs when the sun crosses over the edge of a cloud or just as clouds start to cover the sun. This causes refraction, which angles direct sunlight towards the solar panels, leading to a higher voltage.

To maximize the benefits of the Cloud Edge Effect, call your solar installer to make sure that the inverter you have (or plan to have) is set to deal with these brief surges in power.

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2. Avoid installing solar panels on shadow-prone areas on the roof

The location of your home’s roof is an important factor when it comes to solar power as it affects how much solar power can be generated. 

For solar installations on the roof, make sure they receive the least amount of shadow possible. If you have an overhanging water tank or trees surrounding the property, select a spot with little to no shadows and put panels there instead!

3. Consider PERC and monocrystalline solar panels 

Compared to other types of solar panels, PERC and monocrystalline solar panels are the most efficient. They can reach up to higher than 23% efficiencies, making them the preferred choice for residential solar panels. 

They are space efficient and don’t take up too much area compared to their counterparts. They also tend to operate for longer periods before they need servicing or repairing and function longer than their warranty period.


Should I consider installing a backup solar battery system for my solar panels?

To utilize solar power at night, you should consider installing a backup battery storage system for your solar panels. Solar batteries store excess power that your system generated during the day.

Do solar panels work during winter?

Solar panels still work during winter. Contrary to popular belief, solar panels produce electricity during winter because they are designed to convert sunlight, not heat, into electricity.

In fact, they can be more efficient during the colder seasons since the lower temperatures help boost electrical conductivity.

Recommended: Do solar panels work when covered in snow?

What happens if you run out of solar power?

When you run out of solar power, your solar panels will still continue to generate electricity as long as there’s enough sunlight. 


Solar panels are a great investment for your home or business, but it’s important to understand how they work and what factors can affect their performance. Cloudy conditions doesn’t mean you can’t use solar power; depending on the severity of the weather conditions, you may still get some energy production from your solar panels. 

Now, if you’re ready to take the next step, we can get you 3 FREE quotes from out network of pre-vetted installers. These are professionals who we know are both skilled and honest. We trust them with our own systems, so we’re confident that they won’t rip you off.