Solar panels are a popular source of renewable energy, but many people wonder how they work when the sun isn’t shining. After all, the sun is the primary source of energy for solar panels, so it stands to reason that they wouldn’t work well on cloudy or overcast days. However, solar panels are actually able to generate power even when it’s not sunny, and in this article, we’ll explain how they do it.
First, it’s important to understand that solar panels are made up of photovoltaic cells. These cells are able to convert sunlight into electricity, and they do this by absorbing photons from the sun and using the energy to knock electrons into a higher state of energy. These excited electrons flow through the circuit of the solar panel, generating electricity.
Even on overcast or cloudy days, there is still some sunlight reaching the earth’s surface. This sunlight is diffused and scattered by the clouds, but it’s still enough to generate a small amount of electricity. Solar panels are able to convert this diffused light into electricity, although the amount generated will be significantly less than on a sunny day.
Another way that solar panels are able to generate power when it’s not sunny is through a process called “passive solar heating.” This is when solar panels absorb sunlight and use it to heat up a fluid or air that is then used to generate electricity. This method is less efficient than the photovoltaic process, but it can still provide a significant amount of power.
Additionally, many solar panels come with a feature called “Maximum Power Point Tracking” (MPPT) to optimize the output of the panel. MPPT is an electronic system that optimizes the match between the solar array and the battery bank, which increases the power output of the solar panel. This feature allows the panels to generate more electricity even on less sunny days.
It’s also worth noting that many solar panel systems are connected to the grid, which means that excess power generated on sunny days can be stored and used on days when the sun isn’t shining. This allows households to continue to use solar-generated power even on overcast days.
In conclusion, solar panels can still generate electricity on overcast or cloudy days, although the amount generated will be significantly less than on a sunny day. The diffused light is still enough to generate a small amount of electricity, and many solar panels come with features like MPPT to optimize the output. Additionally, connecting solar panels to the grid allows households to store excess power generated on sunny days for use on less sunny days. Solar panels are a versatile and reliable source of renewable energy, even in a country like the UK, known for its often-cloudy skies and unpredictable weather.