There is a general misconception that solar panels, used to generate electricity and energy from the sun, do not work on overcast or cloudy days. This continues into the belief that solar panels are only useful during the summer months, rendering this form of renewable energy somewhat useless for half of the year during winter.
It is easy to understand where these misconceptions come from. Solar panels need solar light (and it is assumed, heat) to function; without sun rays hitting the panels, it would make sense that no energy could be produced.
However, there is a difference in what we consider to be the sun’s power and what is the actual power of the sun. We as humans associate solar rays with strong, yellow sunshine in a cloudless sky; the kind of weather conditions that have you reaching for a hat and for sunblock. While solar panels will flourish in these conditions, just because the sky is overcast or the temperature is low does not mean solar panels will cease to function.
This is because the sun is always casting rays down on earth, even if there is cloud cover interrupting its route to the surface of our planet. Many people each year, much to their surprise, find themselves suffering sunburn on what appeared to be a cloudy and overcast day. This is because the sunlight is still getting through, but it is just more filtered and obstructed than usual.
For solar energy, the important part of the above sentence is that the sun is still getting through. Even when we would consider the sun not to be shining, it is – unless it is night time! Solar panels are therefore able to function in most weather conditions, albeit with reduced output.