Do Solar Panels Need Direct Sunlight? (Tips to Boost Efficiency)

Solar panels perform best when they are in direct sunlight, as this is when they will produce the most electricity. However, they can still generate electricity on cloudy days or in shade, just not as much.

There is a lot of confusion about solar energy. A lot of people think that you need direct sunlight in order for solar panels to work. This isn’t true! In fact, there are many different ways to boost the energy produced by your solar system, even if you don’t have access to direct sunlight.

In this blog post, we will discuss how much light a solar panel needs as well as some of the best ways to boost the solar power production of your panels.

Do Solar Panels Need Direct Sunlight?

Solar panels do not need direct sunlight to work, however, they are most efficient when in direct sunlight. Solar panels will absorb the sun’s energy with indirect sunlight or on cloudy days, but they will be less efficient.

If you are unable to install solar panels in a location with peak sun hours, there are other alternatives that can be used to generate solar electricity from the sun.

We do recommend you get a shade report created to see how much shade and how much direct sunlight your property gets year-round. This way, you can be sure that you get the solar panels installed in the best possible location.

How Much Direct Sunlight Does a Solar Panel Need?

The amount of light a solar panel needs depends on the type of solar panel. Solar panels are made from different materials, which absorb light differently. For example, silicon solar panels need more light than CIGS solar panels.

A solar panel typically needs about 4800 lumens of light per square meter to work efficiently. This is the equivalent of bright sunlight on a sunny day.

With fewer lumens, solar panels will still work, but they will not be as efficient.

How Much Sunlight Do Different Solar Panels Produce?

The amount of sunlight a solar panel needs really depends on the type of solar panel.

Monocrystalline solar panels need direct sunlight in order to produce the most electricity, while polycrystalline and thin-film solar panels can still generate electricity on cloudy days or in shade.

Monocrystalline solar panels are made from a single crystal of silicon, and they are the most efficient type of solar panel. They can convert up to 22% of the sunlight that hits them into electricity.

Polycrystalline solar panels are made from multiple crystals of silicon, and they have an efficiency of around 15-16%. Thin-film solar panels are the least efficient type of solar panel, with an efficiency of around 11-12%.

So, as you can see, direct sunlight is not necessary for solar panels to work. However, they will produce more electricity if they are in direct sunlight.

How to Boost Sunlight for Solar Panels

There are a few things you can do to help boost the sunlight your solar panels are getting:

Location

The most important thing is to install your solar panels in a location with as much direct sunlight as possible.

There are reports you can get that show the direct and indirect sunlight in each area of your roof to calculate where to install your panels for maximum efficiency.

Orientation & Angle

Make sure the solar panels are facing south so they can get the most amount of sunlight throughout the day.

The angle of the panels should also be adjusted for the best results. The angle depends on your latitude – solar panels should be angled at around 30 degrees in the Northern Hemisphere and 60 degrees in the Southern Hemisphere.

Cleanliness

Make sure to keep your solar panels clean from lichen, dirt and other debris so they can absorb as much sunlight as possible. Dust, dirt, and bird droppings will reduce the efficiency of your solar panels.

Sun Tracker

One option is using a solar tracker. A solar tracker follows the sun throughout the day, so the panels are always in direct sunlight. This option is best for businesses or homeowners who have a lot of space and want to get the most out of their solar panels.

This is an expensive option to get installed but it can increase efficiency by up to 25%.

Solar Concentrator

Another option is using a solar concentrator. A solar concentrator collects sunlight and focuses it onto a smaller area, so the solar panel can absorb more light.

This option is best for homeowners who want to install solar panels on their roof, but do not have enough direct sunlight.

Reflectors

You can also use reflectors to help boost the sunlight your solar panels are getting. Reflectors reflect light onto the solar panel, which increases the amount of energy it produces.

You can use one or more of these reflectors to help increase the sunlight your solar panels are getting:

  • A parabolic reflector is a U-shaped reflector that reflects sunlight onto the solar panel.
  • A linear reflector is a long, flat reflector that reflects sunlight onto the solar panel.
  • A Fresnel reflector is a lens that focuses sunlight onto the solar panel.

For a home DIY solution, you can use a mirror or a windshield sun reflector to help bounce light onto your solar panels.

As you can see, there are a few different options for boosting sunlight for solar panels. If you have the space and the budget, a solar tracker is the best option. If you’re limited on space, a solar concentrator is a good option.

And if you’re on a tight budget, reflectors are a good way to go. No matter what type of solar panel you have, making sure it’s in a location with as much direct sunlight as possible is the best way to increase its efficiency.

How Much Sunlight Do Solar Panels Require to Be Economic?

The amount of sunlight that solar panels require to be economical varies depending on the type of solar panel.

As we mentioned before, thin-film solar panels are the least efficient type of solar panel, with an efficiency of around 11-12%. This means that they require more sunlight to produce the same amount of electricity as a higher efficiency solar panel.

Conventional solar panels have an efficiency of around 15-20%, so they require less sunlight to be economic than thin-film solar panels.

High efficiency solar panels have an efficiency of around 22-25%, which means they require the least amount of sunlight to be economic.

So, what’s the bottom line? The amount of sunlight that solar panels require to be economical depends on the type of solar panel. Thin-film solar panels require more sunlight, while high efficiency solar panels require less.

If you’re looking for the most efficient way to use solar panels, it’s important to choose a location with as much direct sunlight as possible. This will help you get the most out of your solar panels, no matter what type you have.

What Time of Day Are Solar Panels Most Efficient?

The time of day that solar panels are most efficient varies depending on your location. In the Northern Hemisphere, solar panels are most efficient in the summer, when the sun is high in the sky.

There are four peak sun hours per day in the summer, which is when solar panels are most efficient to produce solar energy.

In the Southern Hemisphere, solar panels can be most efficient in the winter, when the sun is lower in the sky.

The time of day that solar panels are most efficient also depends on your latitude. The closer you are to the equator, the more consistent sunlight you will get throughout the year.

This means it is very difficult to give an exact time of day when solar panels are most efficient. However, in general, solar panels are most efficient when the sun is high in the sky and they’re facing directly towards it.

FAQ

Final Thoughts

While solar panels do need sunlight, they don’t necessarily need direct sunlight. Panels can still generate power on a cloudy day or even when it’s raining.

You may have to adjust your expectations depending on where you live, but solar is still a viable option for many homeowners. Have you considered going solar?

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