The debate about whether solar panels need direct sunlight or if any light is enough has been around for some time.
Solar technology has advanced to the point where photovoltaic cells work even on cloudy days, but some still insist that solar panels require direct sunlight.
So, what’s the truth?
Do Solar Panels Need Sun Or Just Light?
Solar panels require sunlight to work but don’t necessarily need direct sunlight.
Solar panels use the energy from the sun to produce electricity, and they can do this with both direct and indirect sunlight.
The amount of sunlight that photovoltaic cells need depends on the type of photovoltaic cell and the conditions where it is used.
In general, photovoltaic arrays need enough sunlight to produce the maximum amount of energy possible.
Solar panels are most efficient when exposed to direct sunlight, but they can still produce electricity on cloudy days.
The amount of solar electricity panels produce on cloudy days is lower than on sunny days, but it is still enough to power homes and businesses.
Whether you’re a proponent of solar technology, it’s essential to understand how photovoltaic arrays work and what they need to function.
Do Solar Panels Work In The Shade?
Solar panels require direct sunlight to work and produce electricity. However, they can still generate electricity in indirect and diffused sunlight, though not at maximum efficiency.
For example, p modules will produce 10-25% of their rated power on a cloudy day.
In partial shade, when only some of the panels are in direct sunlight while others are in the shade, the entire system’s power output will be reduced.
They can operate in direct sunlight, but they work best when all of the panels are in full sun. If just one panel is shaded, it can affect the electricity production of the entire system.
Do Solar Panels Work In Cloudy Weather?
Solar arrays can generate electricity from either direct or indirect sunshine, with the former preferable.
Solar panels can still generate electricity even if clouds partially or entirely obstruct the sun’s rays.
Rain benefits your solar cells by washing away dust and grime, allowing them to continue functioning optimally.
The sun may be blocked from solar panels by neighboring buildings, trees, or weather conditions such as snow, rain, or cloud cover.
How Many Hours Of Sunlight Do Solar Panels Require?
Solar panels’ optimal amount of sunshine varies with roof orientation and electricity rates.
However, solar panels generally require at least 4 hours of daily peak sunlight.
While the quantity of daylight across the country is pretty consistent, some states may only get two peak sun hours per day, while others may get as many as seven.
For this reason, it’s not enough to look at the hours of sunlight each day to judge whether or not solar arrays would work in a specific location.
Do Solar Panels Need To Face The Sun?
It is a common misconception that solar arrays must face the sun to be effective. However, this is not the case.
Solar panels can be placed anywhere that receives sunlight throughout the day, even if it is not directly facing the sun.
The only exception to this rule is if you are using a tracker, which is a device that helps to pivot the solar panel so that it is always facing the sun.
However, trackers can be expensive and unnecessary to get the most out of your solar arrays.
In fact, in many cases, it is more beneficial to install more solar panels rather than using a tracker.
This is because solar panels are most effective when placed in an area that receives direct sunshine for most of the day.
So, if you want to install solar panels, there is no need to worry about their orientation.
Instead, ensure they receive the sun’s energy for most of the day, and you will be all set!
Do Solar Panels Need UV Light?
Photons, or light particles, are the fuel solar cells run on. A photon’s energy is proportional to its wavelength, with more power at shorter wavelengths.
Most of the useable light from the solar spectrum lies within the visible range. Therefore, a solar cell can only convert a small fraction of it into power.
Since ultraviolet light has shorter wavelengths and thus more energy than visible light, it is a great disappointment that solar cells are not better at converting UV photons into electricity.
To prevent premature cell degeneration caused by exposure to sunlight, the cells in most commercial solar panels are coated with a UV-blocking coating.
However, experimental solar cell designs are currently being created that aim to absorb just ultraviolet light.
These might find value when ultraviolet light is the only illumination source, such as in outer space.
Solar Panels That Don’t Need Direct Sunlight
It has recently been possible to generate energy from the sun without directly shining on the photovoltaic cell.
AuRES panels are made to absorb and use the sun’s ultraviolet light for energy.
These panels turn the sun’s ultraviolet radiation into usable light using luminescent particles from composted fruit and vegetable scraps.
Afterward, the electricity produced comes from this visible light. All sorts of things may be done with these bendy panels.
In 2020, the James Dyson Foundation will present this innovation with its Sustainability Award.