Is Direct Sunlight Required for Solar Panels to Work Properly?

Exorbitant prices for traditional energy resources and the desire to reduce carbon emissions have long put alternative energy sources in the spotlight of the global community, with the greatest attention paid to solar energy. Indeed, affordable solar energy has found its place on the roofs of many houses, in rows of solar panels allowing for certain autonomy of households and even making money out of excess electricity. But wait, do solar panels need direct sunlight? Because if they do, how would the solar-driven world function on cloudy days? Let’s clarify this.

Do Solar Panels Have to Be in Direct Sunlight?

The main argument against sun and solar panels are that they’re allegedly useless on cloudy days. 

But is it really so?

Although there’s some truth to that – solar panels are less effective when there’s a shortage of sunlight – they still produce electricity on cloudy days. The best proof is that Germany, Austria, Sweden, and other cloudy countries are rapidly increasing their fleet of solar stations. Cities like Seattle, San Francisco, and London are not planning to abandon alternative energy either. 

Read on to answer the following questions:

  • To what extent do solar panels need direct sunlight?
  • Do solar panels need direct sunlight or just light?
  • Do solar panels work in the shade?

Below is every bit of information about solar panels you need to know.

Do Solar-Powered Devices Require Direct Sunlight?

How many hours of sunlight do solar panels need? Any solar panel is based on the photoelectric conversion of solar into electrical energy. Therefore, the sun and solar panels interact somehow.

And if you delve into the solar panel info, the classic version of the device includes two silicon wafers, one coated with phosphorus and the other with boron. Long story short, sunlight hits the panel, causing an electric current.

Copper wires pierce the panel, through which electric current is directed to electrical appliances or storage batteries. So, answering the question, “Do solar panels need direct sunlight?” Yes, they do.

The questions “How much sunlight does my roof get?” and “How to measure sunlight for solar panels?” should be also discussed with specialists before the installation. You need to know exactly how much sun your solar panels need to produce enough energy.

Do Solar Panels Function in the Shadow?


Do solar panels work in the shade? Depending on the weather, 5% to 95% of sunrays can make it through clouds and onto solar panels. Therefore, solar batteries produce energy proportionally to the sunlight they receive.

This knowledge will help you answer popular questions like “how much sun does my roof get” and “how many hours of sunlight for solar panels are enough.”

How Much Sunlight is Needed for Solar Panels?

A cloudy sky reduces the productivity of solar stations, which is a disadvantage. Nevertheless, solar panels (photovoltaic cells) still work when the panel is shaded, albeit with lower energy output.

Direct sunlight is not necessary, but clouds can reduce energy output by up to 80%. But then again, even a tiny gap in the clouds is enough for a surge in productivity.

So, answering the question, “Does solar need direct sunlight in this case?” No, it doesn’t.

How Much Sunshine is Needed for Solar Panels to be Profitable?

Do solar panels need to be in direct sunlight? Solar panels may differ in the crystalline composition of the absorbing material of photovoltaic cells, which affects the efficiency. Moreover, info on solar panels states that the higher the efficiency of the batteries, the less critical for them is dense clouds.

Will solar panels work in the shade? Single-crystal models are the most productive, even in cloudy weather, but their cost is higher than other types of products, according to information on solar panels.

On overcast days, do solar panels still function?

How long can solar panels last without the sun, and does solar power need direct sunlight? As far as we know, solar panels in the shade still work but are less effective, which can cause a problem. To avoid downside losses in cloudy weather and lessen the risk, you should:

  • Choose products with a good anti-reflective coating that will not reflect the available radiation.
  • Pay attention to models with a wavy or corrugated surface, which increases productivity by 10-15% by increasing the surface that receives the sun’s light.
  • Install batteries in places not shaded by trees or buildings.
  • Use a special tracker that allows you to track the location of the solar panel sun and turn modules with photovoltaic cells towards it.

Qualified specialists should be involved in the installation of a solar power plant, who know how much sunlight do solar panels need and can:

  • Calculate the required area of the panels.
  • Determine the optimal place for placing sun and solar panels and a position that allows them to receive maximum light.
  • Install a controller of the necessary power, which contributes to the efficient charging of batteries during the hours of the most efficient operation of the station.

Do solar panels need direct sunlight? Yes, but even in cloudy weather, solar panels, albeit much longer, will continue to charge the batteries despite all skeptics.


Can solar panels function in the rain?

We know that the answer to the question, “Does a solar panel need direct sunlight?” is yes. However, even when we observe solar panel sun shade, some light reaches the device, and it continues to work (yet less efficiently). Not to worry about solar panel shade, choose high-quality products and find out how much sunlight a solar panel needs before installation.

Does snow affect the operation of solar panels?

How much sun a solar panel needs depends on its construction and features. Make sure to select the one that will be good enough for your region, so you don’t have to worry about how many hours of sun solar panels need.

Hudson Greenaway
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