Cloudy Days and Solar Energy – Here’s What to Know
Up to 80 percent of the sun’s rays can pass through clouds. It’s why you should put on sunscreen if you are going to be outside when the sun is hiding. And it is why solar panels continue to work when it is cloudy outside.
Solar panels need sunlight to create energy. They are made up of hundreds of photovoltaic cells that take sunlight and convert it to electricity—photons from the light hit atoms in the cells and release electrons that are then captured as energy to run your house.
Solar Panels Work on Cloudy Days
Solar panels do work on cloudy days, just not as well as they would on days with full sun. The experts at SolarReviews.com say solar panels will produce 10-25 percent of their normal power depending on how thick the cloud cover is.
In other words, there is still a benefit to having solar panels, even if you live in a cloudy climate. The United Kingdom generated more than 13 Gigawatts from solar in 2018, while other northern European countries have strong solar sectors despite frequent cloudy days and lack of winter sun.
Sunny Days = High Efficiency
We are blessed with 296 sunny days in Gilbert and the Valley of the Sun. We will have very few days where solar panels are operating at 25 percent of regular capacity. It is one of the reasons why Arizona is the fifth largest supplier of solar power in the country, behind California, Texas, North Carolina and Florida.
Let’s Nerd Out on Solar Panels
Tom Murphy, a professor of physics at UC San Diego, notes that the average US household gets about 5kWh of solar energy per day. To cover the average 30 kWh of electricity a US household uses per day, you’d need about 430 square feet of panels — that’s about the size of a two-car garage. The point here is that “efficiency is not the bottleneck” with solar power, notes Murphy. The bottleneck is typically price.
Solar Panel Factor: Cost of Electricity
A large factor in choosing solar panels is the overall cost of electricity. Obviously, the higher the cost of electricity from the utility provider, the more it makes sense to have solar panels. In the Phoenix-metro area, the cost of electricity is about 12 cents per kWh, versus 19 cents in Los Angeles and 20 cents in New York City.
Those costs are certainly much higher than Arizona and would partially explain why California has more solar power than any other state. But it’s also worth noting that Phoenix has the potential to be one of the top cities for rooftop solar in the country due to the number of homes and number of sunny days.
So how much does energy from solar cost? Try 6 cents per kWh for commercial solar. Costs for residential energy have dropped to a range of 11-16 cents per kWh. Energy.gov notes the industry is striving to have rates as low as 3 cents per kWh by 2030.
In the meantime, tax credits from state and local governments provide major incentives to go solar. And while electric rates continue to climb, your solar system from Fusion Power will have a fixed rate.
Want to learn if an energy-efficient solar panel system can help you save you thousands of dollars, reduce your environmental impact and reduce your reliance on the energy grid? Fusion is one of the nation’s fastest growing solar dealers, with more than 4,000 installs in the last three years. Give us a call today at 480-676-1433 or email email@example.com to schedule a free consultation.