Where do solar panels work best?

Solar Panels on a Snowy Hill

Does solar work when it’s cloudy outside? 

Solar panels do work when it is overcast but it isn’t as efficient. It only produces 10% to 25% of what it does when it is in direct sunlight. The heavier the clouds the less power your solar panels will produce, so if it’s really cloudy you can expect about 10% of the normal output and if it is light clouds or foggy it’ll be closer to 25% of the normal output.

Solar works best in hot sunny weather, right?

Solar panels do best in direct sunlight but not necessarily in hot sunny weather. Too much heat can reduce solar output by 10% to 25%, solar panels power output starts to break down when the panels go over 77 degrees Fahrenheit.

So if you live in places like Nevada where you have a lot of hot sunny days, your solar system may not work as well as if you live on the west coast. The marine layer that is experienced on the coast of California, Oregon and Washington helps to keep the solar panels cooler and therefore the output doesn’t degrade as it does in really hot sunny areas.

You can save money with solar, wherever you live.

Whether your house will do well with solar isn’t dependent on where you live, the position of your house can also be a factor and where and how you install the panels will also affect the efficiency and output. You should check with your local utilities to see what credits and rebates they may offer if you were to install a solar system in you home.

Solar for Every Application. 

There is a solar product for just about everything. Solar has come so far and is becoming more and more advanced. There are portable solar packs that are great for hiking and tent camping, portable kits designed for RV’s, solar kits for homes and tiny houses, there are even solar powered generators. There is more information on DIY solar here and portable solar options here.

Batteries for solar systems.

I bought a solar kit for our RV which has 4 AGM batteries and it works very well to keep the batteries charged. I have done some research and learned that solar works better with Flooded (Traditional) batteries or AGM (Absorbent Glass Material) batteries than it does with Gel batteries. The type and number of batteries you will need will depend on the size of the solar system you will be using and if using solar for an RV, tiny home or house, and you may also need a converter.

 

Research

Research is probably the most important thing to do when considering a solar system. There is a wealth of information on the internet and your local power company is also a good resource for information.

Good Luck!

7 thoughts on “Where do solar panels work best?”

  1. Michel says:

    I had no idea that too much heat could reduce the solar output by 10 to 25%. I always thought that with solar panels, the more heat the better.

    I would just love to know what happens in places where the sun hardly shines, like in winter. In this case, is Solar perhaps not the best option to go for? You say it still works in cloudy weather, but surely it still has to be light enough for the panels to charge?

    1. admin says:

      Hey Michel,

      In the case of perpetual clouds, solar is still an option. It would probably be best to have a large battery bank (8+ batteries) and a generator. That way, when you ran the generator, it would charge the batteries and you would still have the power that the panels are producing.

  2. DreaJay says:

    Solar is a very good technology to have at home as it helps save money and also gets everything filled with energy. I like it because it can be used for different purposes and it can be built into different sizes depending on purpose. I never knew solar can be used for cars to charge batteries, I’ll try to get it for my cars. Thanks for sharing this informative article, it’ll be of great help to me. 

  3. DJ Mc says:

    Hi like your website on solar systems I was looking to get a solar panel to run a 12 volt battery power electric fence on a farm where there is not electricity  What size solar panel would you recommenced. Also wondering how long do you think a solar panel should last thanks

    1. admin says:

      Hi DJ Mc, 

      The first time I used a solar panel it was on a travel trailer to run the lights and pump, I used a single 6 watt panel and a flooded deep cycle battery and that one panel kept the battery charged. Your project is bigger but it gives you an idea of what a small panel will produce. There a a few variables that you’ll have to consider.

      1) How many kWh will the fence use? There are conversion calculators online to convert that to watts.

      2) Do you get a lot of sun? This will make a difference in how large a battery bank you might need.

      A good solar panel should last at least 20 years before the power output starts degrading and some claim 25 to 30 years.

      Good Luck with your project!

      Stevie

  4. Kevin says:

    Thanks for this article, I really like your site! Now, I’m pretty new to the whole solar energy thing, but I am definitely eager to buy some panels for my house. The only problem is that it’s cloudy most of the times. Still, it’s free and clean energy. The thing is though, when it’s sunny, it can quickly get up from 75 to 95 degrees Fahrenheit. What would you recommend I do in this situation?

    1. Stevie says:

      Hi Kevin,
      Solar still works when it’s cloudy just not as well. Do you have heavy clouds or is it light clouds or a marine layer? Marine layers and light clouds can actually be beneficial. San Francisco is one city that has good success in utilizing solar due to the marine layer that they often have as it keeps the panels cooler but isn’t thick enough to really reduce the power output. If you’re going to be tied into the grid, you should check with your utility company for recommendations. Hope this helps.

      Stevie

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