Have you ever wondered whether solar energy is worthwhile during cloudy days? Sure, it’s perfect for places like Phoenix or Los Angeles, but what about Seattle or Baltimore, when you’re more likely to have clouds than sunshine?

It would be tempting to say that solar panels can absorb just as much on a cloudy day as a sunny one. After all, isn’t it true that you can get sunburned on a cold winter day too? Sure, but sunburns are caused by a different part of sunlight’s spectrum–UV light–than what is absorbed and used by solar panels. Solar panels are formulated to react with each wavelength of visible light, from red to violet. Neither ultraviolet light and infrared light are processed by solar panels.

However, your solar panels are still useful during cloudy days, and here’s why:

Solar Panels Absorb Diffuse Light, Too

Solar panels absorb three different kinds of light: direct, diffuse, and reflected. Direct sunlight is plentiful on clear days, but when it’s cloudy diffused light is still getting through. True, it might mean that your solar panels are only at 20% of the maximum energy absorption. However, 20% is still a significant contribution to your household energy. Think about it; do you sneeze at a sale because it’s only 20% off? Certainly not!

Cool Days=Better Energy Retention

It might seem counterintuitive, but in some cases, cooler areas actually lead to better solar power retention. This is because semiconductors used to transport and store energy operate better in cool temperatures. That’s why solar panels in foggy San Francisco can actually produce more energy than the same panels in Sacramento (which gets more sun.) The amount differs from one temperature to another, from one battery to another, and even from one model of solar panels to another.

Solar Energy in Cloudy Regions

For the above reasons, solar energy in some of the cloudiest regions in the world is still booming. For example, Germany is the leading country in the world for solar power production, despite the fact that it gets about the same amount of sunlight as Alaska. In one survey, it was found that even in cities like Boston or Albany, it was easy to save over $1,000 per year on energy costs. To learn more about how much you can save by going solar, give us a call.