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Do Solar Panels work when it’s cloudy?

Solar panels, also known as PV panels, are the devices that are used to trap sunlight (containing particles of energy known as photons) and convert it into electricity that is used in abundance for everything and by everyone. Since, we cannot imagine our lives without electricity, solar panels (being a source of renewable energy) should be promoted for use. Solar panels can be used for a variety of energy needs.

Solar panels are easy to maintain and produce environmentally friendly electricity. They trap energy in the form of light and convert that light into electricity. Now, the solar panels are composed of several individual solar cells which themselves are layers of boron (which provides the positive charge) and silicon and phosphorus (which provide the negative charge). When solar panels absorb sunlight containing photons, an electric current is produced. The resulting energy that is generated from the photon strikes the surface of the solar panel allowing electrons to be knocked out of their atomic orbits and be released into the electric field generated by solar cells which pulls them into a directional current and the entire process to be known as Photovoltaic Effect. These solar panels can generate enough electricity at day that the requirements can be fulfilled and the excessive electricity goes onto the main power grid fulfilling the electricity requirements at night. A battery bank, charge controller and in most cases, an inverter are the necessary components in an off-grid solar application. The solar array sends direct current (DC) electricity through the charge controller to the battery bank. This power is then drawn from the battery bank to the inverter, which converts the direct current into altering current (AC) which can be used in non-DC appliances. Assisted by the inverter, the solar panel arrays can be used to meet heavy demands for appliances for electricity. The AC current can be used to power electricity loads in homes, industries, buildings, boats, telecommunications equipment, oil and gas flow monitoring, RTU, SCADA, cottages, remote traffic controls.

 Using solar panels is a very practical way for producing electricity. The main benefit lies with those living in the off-grid areas; areas which are not served by the main electric utility grid. People living in remote areas benefit greatly from the solar panels. Solar panel system is potentially less expensive and if maintained can fulfill your power needs for three decades. In addition, solar panels produce clean and renewable sources of energy. Installation of solar panels eliminates your monthly electric bills and in return you can earn from the system’s owner as that excessive electricity produced by the solar panels can also be sold. 

Many people think that since solar panels generate electricity using sunlight, they would not work on cloudy days but it is not true. Solar panels do work on cloudy days as well, they just don’t perform as well as they do during sunny days. Though it is estimated that solar panels produce 10-25% of their normal power output on a cloudy day.

 It does not mean that areas with rainy and cloudy climates do not prefer solar panels, they are quite famous in such areas as well. The decisive part here is not whether that area’s climate is rainy or cloudy but it is the electricity rates. Many areas with a rainy and cloudy climate have solar panels because these areas have high electricity rates. Let’s take San Francisco as an example, the city is famous for

the fog that hovers over the city for most of the year yet San Francisco comes amongst top 5 cities that use solar energy because of its high cost of energy and a generally warm climate that yields soft but consistent sunlight all year long. In some cases solar panels can even generate energy that it produces on any normal sunny day as the clouds can reflect or sometimes even magnify sunlight which results in additional power generation by the solar panels. Though on cloudy days, solar panels do not work that effectively but still sun rays make their way through rain and clouds. However, due to less sunlight the production is less too. It even depends more or less on the cloud density coverage, so it can be inconsistent and generally be reduced on those gloomy days. 

This is not a factor to discard the use of solar panels as they still perform well whether it is sunny or cloudy and have innumerable benefits. People should shift towards usage of solar panels as it is both pocket and environment friendly.

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