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Do Solar Panels Work on Cloudy Days? A Closer Look at Solar Power Reliability in the UK

Published on:
13 October 2023

Solar energy has recently gained significant popularity as a sustainable and eco-friendly power source. Solar panels have become standard on rooftops and in solar farms worldwide. However, one common question often arises: do solar panels work on cloudy days, particularly in a country like the United Kingdom where overcast skies are frequent? In this blog post, we will explore the functionality of solar panels in cloudy conditions.

Understanding Solar Panel Operation

To comprehend how solar panels perform on cloudy days, one must grasp the basic principles of solar panel operation. Solar panels capture sunlight and convert it into electricity through a process known as the photovoltaic effect. Photovoltaic (PV) cells, typically made of silicon, generate electrical current when exposed to sunlight.

However, the effectiveness of solar panels can be affected by various factors, including the amount of sunlight they receive, the angle at which they are installed, and the weather conditions.

The Impact of Cloudy Skies on Solar Panels

Cloudy weather does sightly affect the performance of solar panels. On overcast days, less sunlight reaches the solar panels, which can reduce their electricity production. According to the Met Office, the country experiences an average of 149 cloudy days annually, so understanding how solar panels perform under such conditions is essential.

Solar Panel Performance 

We can refer to data and studies conducted by local experts and institutions to understand how solar panels perform. Solar panel performance varies by location within the UK due to differences in sunlight exposure. Generally, the UK’s southern regions receive more sunlight than the northern regions.

According to the Solar Trade Association, regions in the south of the UK, such as Cornwall and Devon, have higher solar panel performance due to increased sunlight exposure compared to the north.

Solar panels in the UK are designed to work optimally under diffuse light conditions. This means that while direct sunlight produces the most electricity, solar panels can still generate power on cloudy days. The performance may be lower than on sunny days, but they are not rendered entirely ineffective.

Storage Solutions and Grid Integration

Many solar systems are equipped with energy storage solutions, such as batteries, to overcome the intermittency of solar power on cloudy days. These batteries store excess electricity generated during sunny periods and release it when needed, ensuring a consistent power supply.

Furthermore, solar power systems are often integrated with the grid. When solar panels produce surplus electricity, they can be fed back into the grid, reducing the strain on non-renewable energy sources and potentially earning homeowners money through feed-in tariffs.


In conclusion, solar panels do work on cloudy days. While their efficiency is reduced compared to sunny days, they still generate electricity, making them a reliable and eco-friendly energy source. Using energy storage solutions and grid integration has further enhanced the viability of solar panels, making them a valuable investment for homeowners and businesses looking to reduce their carbon footprint and energy bills.

The impact of cloudy weather on solar panel performance varies by region in the UK, with southern regions receiving more sunlight. Nevertheless, solar panels can be a practical choice across the country. As the UK continues to invest in renewable energy and sustainability, solar panels play an integral role in reducing the nation’s carbon emissions and reliance on non-renewable energy sources.

Let’s Answer Your Questions

Do you still have more questions about solar panels? Contact us today at 01482 230 422 or email us at info@eastyorkshiresolar.co.uk to answer all your queries about solar panels.