How do your solar panels work on cloudy days?

Anne BrockOur Town Outdoors

Clouds blocked out much of the anticipated view of the latest solar eclipse over East Tennessee. Yet, they were not able to block out all of the sun’s rays filtering through the clouds to produce solar energy.

How do solar panels work on cloudy days? Even filtered sunlight can do the job of providing a source of clean, abundant energy for photovoltaic systems. It is not dependent on warmth, just reliant on the sunlight. Depending on the amount of cloud cover and efficiency of the panels, this will be a fraction of what could be produced on a clear, sunny day.

Could your solar panels also operate in the rain? Yes, they could, but depending on the amount of cloud coverage accompanying the rain. That rainfall is also ideal for cleaning dust and pollen off the array’s panels.

How would a battery help during times of no or reduced solar energy production? It could be storing up excess production during clear, sunny days and making that available to discharge at night or at excessively overcast times.

How would you know how efficiently your solar system is working and at various times? Solar PV is typically installed with a system for remotely monitoring its performance. This can also help with troubleshooting for maintenance needs.

Where do I get a clear estimate of how much energy my solar pv system will produce? Properly designed systems are planned in alignment with long-term weather data for your specific area. That data can help estimate which times of the year solar energy is more abundant for you and which times you can anticipate it will produce less.

Anne Brock is marketing coordinator for Solar Alliance, which designs and manages solar installation projects for manufacturers and small businesses. It also offers a Solar 101 class. She can be reached at or 865-221-8349.


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