Best Solar Panels for Cloudy Conditions


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Can solar panels work in cloudy weather?

Solar panels work by absorbing the light from the sun and instantly converting it into usable electricity. For solar panels to work at their optimum efficiency they need a fairly clear day, where the sunlight can directly reach the panels. Cloudy weather is the least optimal for solar output. That said, solar panels can still produce power from the limited daylight available in cloudy conditions.

On a cloudy day you can expect solar panels to produce around a third of their normal electricity output. This may still be enough to power some of your household appliances throughout the day.



Best solar panels for cloudy days

It has been suggested that thin film solar panels may work better in cloudy conditions than traditional crystalline panels. Crystalline panels are designed to be most efficient when allowed access to direct, visible light from the sun. As stated above, this does not mean that they will not work on cloudy days, but their efficiency will be significantly affected if there is little daylight.

Thin film panels are designed to work efficiently by absorbing a broader range of light than crystalline panels. For example, thin film panels can take advantage of infrared and UV light. These lightwaves are different to the visible lightwaves we can see emanating from the sun.These lightwaves are always present, even on cloudy days, and can be harnessed more efficiently by thin film panels than most crystalline systems.



Choosing the right solar panels

The ability of thin film panels to work on cloudy days does not mean that you should choose to install them without considering the overall pros and cons. No matter what type of solar panel you install, you should see the benefits of cheaper energy bills and a healthy return on investment. There are some things to consider though when choosing whether you would like to invest in traditional crystalline panels or new thin film technology, for example;

  • Thin film panels are up to 20% cheaper than their crystalline counterparts
  • Thin film panels can be more aesthetically pleasing than crystalline, due to their thin, black, uniform appearance
  • Crystalline panels are currently up to 4 times more efficient than newer thin film systems
  • Crystalline panels are more space efficient so you need less of them for the same output
  • For a full comparison visit our thin film page here

Currently most big, trustworthy installation companies still use crystalline solar panels as standard. This means that you are more likely to receive a good product with a solid warranty if you choose crystalline. However, thin film is cheaper to manufacture and as such a lot of research is being conducted in order to make them as efficient as crystalline.

Always ask your installer if you are unsure which panels are right for your property. If you would like to find trustworthy, MCS accredited installers in your local area, simply fill in the form at the top of the page.