These days many households are opting for renewable energy sources such as solar panels. However, there are still some concerns about how effective solar panels are in the shade and if they need direct sunlight to work properly. So, if you had similar questions in mind, read on because today, we will discuss the question how do solar panels work in the sun vs. shade.
How Much Direct Sunlight Solar Panels Need
Yes, it is true that solar panels run off of light and not the heat from the sun. This information means they will work the same on a clear winter day as on a clear summer day. But, it is also true that direct sunlight is the best way to get the most out of your panels. Hence, the more sun exposure solar panels get, the more output they generate.
Although panels can generate energy from any sunlight, direct sunlight has more photons than indirect sunlight. So, solar panels facing the sun directly will generate more electricity than those in the shade.
However, there are many situations in which panels can’t get direct sunlight, at least not throughout the entire day. Trees, buildings, and other obstructions can create shade. Therefore, to answer how do solar panels work in the sun vs. shade, we need to know how many hours of direct sunlight do panels need to perform optimally.
Across the US, the average estimation is that panels need about four hours of sunlight a day. But this number can vary depending on many factors. Some of them include:
- The angle of your roof.
- The size of your home and family.
- The climate in your area.
- How many solar panels there are.
Do Solar Panels Work in the Shade?
So, solar panels work best in direct sunlight. But they can also work without it — they can produce energy using indirect sunlight alone.
Nowadays, solar panels use different technology, lenses, and mirrors to maximize the amount of light that reaches the cells. Germany is one of the world’s leaders in solar energy use, though it has many cloudy days. This fact means that solar panels are a good investment, even in not-so-sunny areas.
That being said, we need to highlight that those are not the optimum conditions. Your panels will generate energy in the constant shade, but there will be a drop in performance. To estimate the effect a shade will have on your panels, you should consider the following questions:
- How long will the shade cover your panels? Sunlight intensity and shade can change depending on the day and how sunrays move around your home. Still, the principle is the same: the longer the panels are under shade, the less energy they will produce.
- What type of solar panels do you have? If one part of the solar panels is in the shade, and the other is in the sun, there might be a risk of damage. In such cases, the panel cells in the sun tend to work harder to compensate for the ones in the shade. This can result in overheating and a shorter life span of the cells.
- Newer panels use half-cut solar cells that help avoid this issue and reduce the effect of partial shade. On the other hand, older models do not have such features.
So, how do solar panels work in the sun vs. shade? Solar panels work best if they have at least some direct sun exposure, the optimum being four hours. However, they can generate energy even in constant shade, and the ever-changing technology makes panels more and more efficient when dealing with different weather conditions.