Do Solar Panels Work When It’s Cloudy?

dark clouds over a green, grassy field

You know solar generators and gear rely on the sun to charge, but you likely don’t live somewhere with bright, sunny skies every day. Seeing clouds in the forecast might have you wondering if your solar panels charge when it’s cloudy. Here’s what you need to know. 

Why Solar Is Important for Emergencies

Whether it’s a natural disaster or rolling blackouts, you never know when you might find yourself without power. And while you might be able to survive a few hours without the convenience of electricity, what happens if the power stays out for days, weeks, or even months? Don’t overlook the importance of stocking your survival kit with solar gear. From power banks that can keep essentials like your phone charged to large solar generators that can power crucial medical devices, solar power can make all the difference in a crisis.

Do Solar Panels Charge When It’s Cloudy?

Solar panels are charged by the sun, but the chances of you having constantly clear skies are slim — especially in the days leading up to a big storm. But do those gloomy clouds mean you’ll be stuck without solar power? Thankfully, solar devices will still charge when it’s cloudy. They just might generate less electricity.

If you’ve ever been sunburned on a cloudy day, then you’ve already experienced how sun rays can reach through the clouds. Solar panels can still detect sunlight in cloudy conditions, but you can expect your gear only to produce about 10–25% of its normal output. Surprisingly, if rain comes with the clouds, you might see your panels work more efficiently. The rain can wash away dirt and grime that make it difficult for the panels to fully absorb sunlight.

Can You Increase Your Solar Productivity?

While solar panels perform their best in full sunlight, there are ways to help increase your solar productivity. When getting started with solar power, it’s important to know how to set up your panels and get the most out of every charge, even when it’s cloudy outside. This often involves purchasing more panels than you think you might need. 

With generators like the Patriot Power Generator, you can purchase additional solar panels and string them together to increase your available power. If one solar panel produces enough power during an average day, the 10–25% decrease in efficiency on a cloudy day could leave you without enough electricity. But if you have two solar panels, the extra power from the second panel will more than make up for that 10–25% loss, providing you with plenty of electricity to get through the days of cloudy weather. 

However, it’s not recommended you combine more than three solar panels with your Patriot Power Generator. If you string all three panels together during peak sunlight hours, you might reach the safety max of the cord, which has to carry all the power from your panels back to the generator.

Stay Powered Up With 4Patriots

Cloud or shine, 4Patriots solar-powered gear is here for you. Shop online today for solar-powered generators, lanterns, radios, and much more. Don’t forget to check out our other emergency food and gear so you can be prepared when, not if, the power goes out.