Do solar panels work on cloudy days and during winter?

The installation of solar PV is once again on the rise. After it’s temporary fall from favour back in 2012, homeowners are once again considering installing this technology. More and more people are moving to electric vehicles and battery storage is now a real option for maximising it’s efficiency. But as in the heyday of solar back in 2010-2012, homeowners are still questioning the efficiency of solar panels in the British climate and whether solar panels work on cloudy days and during the winter months.

The question “Do solar panels work on cloudy days and during winter?” is one of the most frequently asked question we are asked by homeowners considering installing solar panels.

It’s a common misconception that solar panels will just sit on the roof tops generating nothing throughout the winter months.

Homeowners can be forgiven for assuming that the British weather doesn’t lend itself to providing the most favourable conditions for solar panels.  Solar panels have always been much more common in warmer climates and approx. 50% of the year Britain suffers from cloudy weather. However whilst it is true that solar panels will work more effectively in brighter weather, there is still enough daylight on a typically British cloudy day in order to generate energy. It’s all about the daylight – not the sunshine!!

Do solar panels work on cloudy days?

With the British climate seemingly more cloudy than not, many homeowners who are contemplating installing solar pv wonder just how effective solar pv is in cloudy weather. They are actually asking if solar panels work at all on cloudy days! The good news is that they actually do!

Do solar panels work in the winter?

Solar panels do work in the winter months. It’s a very common misconception that solar panels won’t work in winter. Energy production may very – especially on very dark, overcast days with a high cloud density – but solar panels are very good at generating energy in all weather conditions. So – do solar panels work in winter? Yes they do, though they will obviously work more efficiently in the summer months when daylight hours are longer.

How do solar panels work on cloudy days?

Although solar panels draw energy from the sun, they do not need bright sunny days in order to produce energy. They actually work on light – not the heat from the sun! As it’s not actually sunlight which is needed in order for solar panels to work, there is enough daylight in the UK to ensure that solar panels work efficiently and are a viable source of renewable energy.

How much energy will be produced in the winter or on a cloudy day?

In winter there are obviously less daylight hours within the day. As he nights draw in, the sun rises later and sets earlier in the evening These shorter days mean less hours in order to generate energy. Solar panels will therefore generate less energy in the winter than on longer summer days.

Generation can be cut by approximately 50% on days with light cloud cover compared to bright, clear days. Really overcast days could see a reduction of up to 90%. This being said, the energy generated will still be enough to meet an average homeowners requirements.

Use your solar panels at the right time during winter months

Whilst there are less day light hours and therefore less hours in order to generate your own energy, you will obviously need to draw more energy down from the grid.

It is a good idea therefore to ensure that you making the most of the energy you are producing by using household appliances during daylight hours. Stagger these appliances so they are not all running at the same time to ensure you minimise the amount of energy you are drawing from the grid and maximising the usage of the energy you are producing for free!


You can learn more about the potential of solar in the UK here.


If you’d like to discuss option for installing solar PV and battery storage then please contact us today.


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