Combining the words “solar panels” and “cloudy days” may induce minor anxiety in clean energy enthusiasts at first. But trust us, there’s nothing to fear.
As one of the most efficient (and affordable) ways to produce clean, renewable energy, solar panels are becoming a staple in powering many homes, businesses, and portable applications — rain or shine.
Still, popular misconceptions exist, such as that solar panels require direct sunlight to generate power. The fact is, solar panels generate green, renewable energy, even on cloudy days.
We’ve compiled a guide to the best portable solar panels for cloudy days. Even if you live in a region with more overcast days than clear blue skies, you can achieve energy independence with these options.
1. EcoFlow 110W Solar Panel
The 110W solar panel provides smaller portable power stations and solar generators with the clean solar energy they need to power your personal devices and more.
This lightweight, portable (and flexible) solar panel is easy to set up and take with you wherever you need power – even in your backpack. With dimensions of 20.2*16.5*0.8 in (42.0 x 48.0 x 2.5cm) and weighing only 8.8lb (4kg), the 110W solar panel won’t weigh you down even if you’re scaling a mountain! The carry case also doubles as a stand that you can easily adjust for optimal light capture.
If the 110W isn’t enough juice, take advantage of the unique ‘chaining’ feature, which lets you attach multiple solar panels to double or triple the power output!
No matter where you’re heading, you’ll have a way to generate power quickly and efficiently with a portable power station and the 110W solar panel.
2. EcoFlow 160W Solar Panel
The 160W solar panel benefits from an extra 50W of power generation compared to the 110W option. This extra power comes at a small portability cost. At 15.4lb (6.9kg), the 160W solar panel weighs almost 70% more than the 110W, but it still retains the flexible and foldable design. Transporting it is still a breeze, provided you have the space in your car!
In addition to being dust and water-resistant, this model also benefits from an ETFE film. It provides extra protection against ultraviolet light to increase the overall lifespan of the panels.
3. EcoFlow 220W Solar Panel
The 220W solar panel is a two-in-one. Unlike most solar panels, it features a bifacial design with 220W power collection front side and 155W rear that captures additional ambient sunlight. The bifacial construction allows you to capture as much as 25% more light — making for faster charging times and greater energy efficiency.
Don’t let the thin appearance fool you; these panels are built to last. The tempered glass makes them five times tougher compared to other similarly rated panels. They can withstand heat up to 300 degrees Fahrenheit and are entirely waterproof.
You don’t need to worry about bad weather damaging this highly efficient bifacial solar panel — it comes prepared for anything.
4. EcoFlow 400W Solar Panel
The 400W solar panel is the most powerful solar panel in our range. It’s perfect for generating energy for home backup systems or supplying power for RV camping or off-grid living. The pliable EVA layers and durable fiberglass make this one of the market’s toughest and most versatile solar panels.
Besides its high-capacity output, it’s also the fastest to charge, thanks to the 23% efficiency rate. The protective case folds out to act as a stand, adjustable to either 40 or 80 degrees for maximum sun exposure. This beast is built to perform, even on cloudy or overcast days.
What Are the Benefits of Solar Panels?
Solar panels are hugely beneficial for numerous reasons. Let us walk you through some critical information.
Economical Way to Produce Energy
The price of electricity continues to rise worldwide, putting many households under undue stress. With solar panels, you can generate your own energy by harnessing the sun’s power, even on a cloudy day! It frees you from excessive energy bills and is one of the smartest (and most eco-friendly!) ways to keep as much clean electricity as you need on demand.
No Greenhouse Gas Emissions
Thanks to solar panels producing zero carbon emissions, they are MUCH better for the environment than conventional fossil fuel generators or on-grid power. They capture entirely clean energy from a renewable source and create absolutely no pollution when operating.
In fact, they directly reduce greenhouse gas emissions by offering a clean, affordable replacement for fossil fuels. Not only will you save money on electricity bills, but you’ll also reduce your carbon footprint.
Highly Lightweight, Easy to Transport
You can take your solar panels just about anywhere and still benefit from their energy generation. Once connected to a solar generator or inverter, all you have to do is leave them outside and let them do their thing.
Provided there’s at least some daylight, your solar panels will collect energy. It couldn’t be easier, which is what makes them so popular with off-grid adventurers.
Resistant to All Weathers
Come rain or shine, your solar panels can generate energy regardless. A bit of rain can even help clean them off, so you don’t need to do it yourself!
Remember, solar panels don’t rely on direct sunlight to function. Even the tiniest bit of daylight can convert into energy. Even when it’s raining and overcast outside, your panels can still create clean, renewable solar power.
As we just said, a little rain will always give your solar panels a refresh. If you live in a dusty area, you still don’t need to worry because cloth and a little elbow grease are all you need to keep them clean.
Unlike traditional fossil fuel generators, portable power stations with solar panels and solar generators require very little maintenance. Since they produce no toxic fumes or noise, you can even keep them inside!
What to Consider When Buying Portable Solar Panels for Cloudy Days
We have covered a lot of ground here, so let’s focus on the last step of your solar panel journey: making a purchase! Solar panels can be expensive, and while they are an excellent long-term investment, you need to ensure you’re putting your money in the right place.
To help you with that, we have compiled a list of some top considerations you should keep in mind before proceeding through checkout. Let’s jump in.
What You Need It For
Let’s start with the basics: What do you need to power using your solar panels? The voltage required to power a refrigerator significantly differs from that needed to recharge a laptop.
The last thing you want is to purchase solar panels that aren’t powerful enough for the job. Likewise, you don’t want to pay for the best in the range when you only need it for smaller devices.
To give you an idea of how voltage may vary, here are some typical examples:
- Laptop: up to 100W
- Mobile Phone Charger: up to 75W
- Under-Counter Fridge/Freezer: 100W
- Desktop Computer: up to 300W
These are approximate, so check the wattage of your specific branded items before calculating how powerful you may need your solar panel to be!
It’s a good practice to add up the total wattage of all the devices you’ll need to power simultaneously to help you choose the right solar panels for you.
How Often You’ll Need It
Some people use their solar panels year-round to save money on their energy bills. Others just use them to recharge their portable power stations to full and fold them away afterward. Some only get them out when they go off-grid, camping in the wilderness.
The point is that people use solar panels for all kinds of reasons. How frequently you plan to use your solar panels affects the type you should purchase.
If you intend to use them for camping trips, you should go for foldable panels that favor portability. If you want to use them year-round at home, you should opt for a heavier, more powerful model that can power higher-wattage home appliances.
While solar panels can generate power at any point during the day, the amount of light they receive does matter. This means your local climate can affect how much energy your solar panels can collect (and how quickly).
Solar panels capture sunlight through photovoltaic cells, generating direct current (DC) energy. The panels will then convert this into alternating current (AC) energy, which powers most household appliances.
There is less light exposure on cloudy days. The panels still work but at a reduced rate. Your average climate can determine how often you’ll need panels suited for areas with frequent overcast days. Some panels are more suitable for ambient light capture.
For example, the EcoFlow bifacial 220W solar panels can capture ambient light, meaning they can operate more efficiently even when the sun isn’t shining at its brightest. Ambient light capture is important if you live in an area that doesn’t receive a lot of direct sunlight.
The Type of Solar Panel
There isn’t just one kind of solar panel on the market; there are multiple. All of our recommended solar panels have monocrystalline silicon cell types. However, there are other varieties, such as polycrystalline, amorphous, and thin-film.
Monocrystalline silicon cells provide higher heat tolerance and high efficiency. They are more compact than amorphous cell types while still providing the equivalent wattage, meaning they can generate more power without taking up as much space. The material is perfect for balancing portability with performance.
This term describes how effectively your solar panels can convert sunlight into energy. Solar panels generally reach a 15-20% conversion efficiency.
The conversion efficiency rates in the solar panels reviewed above vary between 21-23%, so EcoFlow panels hit that upper limit and outperform the competition. This higher conversion efficiency is due to the monocrystalline solar cells EcoFlow use.
The higher the conversion efficiency percentage, the more energy your solar panels can generate.
Solar panels don’t operate independently. They capture solar power and — using an inverter — convert the direct current into alternating current (household electricity.) But after the energy generation, they need a battery to store the converted sunlight.
Storing the generated energy from your solar panels in a portable power station is the best way to ensure you keep the lights on.
Solar panels can only generate power when exposed to daylight. When you store the electricity in a portable power station, you have everything you need to keep you powered through the night.
Brand consideration applies to any purchase but is essential when investing in new tech. You need to know that your money is going to a company that cares about what they do and stands behind it. You want to be sure the purchase is worth your hard-earned money.
EcoFlow was founded in 2017 by a group of battery engineers looking to create new ways to access sustainable power. We have the knowledge and expertise to guarantee that our products are of the highest quality. We are committed to providing as many people as possible with renewable energy.
Finally, let’s talk about money. You don’t need to buy the fanciest model out there to benefit from owning solar panels. All the models that we have recommended have their own merits.
The key difference is their power rating. If you only intend to use your solar panels for smaller devices, you don’t need to fork out for the most expensive model! However, if you have made your calculations and feel like only the highest power rating will suffice, remember that this purchase is an investment.
Lower energy bills and less reliance on the grid are worth putting your money towards, but you want to be smart about how much you spend. Evaluate your budget and your needs before committing. You will thank yourself later.
How Much Sun Do Solar Panels Need?
Sun exposure has an impact, but conversion efficiency also makes a crucial difference. As long as there’s daylight, your solar panels have all the sun they need to power your portable power station or solar generator. As mentioned, EcoFlow 220W solar panels can capture ambient light, generating even more power than our standard monofacial panels on cloudy days.
Do Solar Panels Work at Night?
No. Solar panels require some daylight to work, even if it’s only ambient light. It means they work on cloudy or ‘dark’ days and do not require direct sunlight. But they do require that the sun is in the sky to capture solar power. That’s where your portable power station or solar generator comes in. It stores the energy your solar panels capture during daylight hours.
See for Yourself!
The best way to experience the benefits of a solar panel system is to try one out for yourself.
This guide has introduced you to the basics (and beyond!), so now it’s over to you. Clean, renewable (and reliable) energy could be yours wherever you are.
Check out EcoFlow today to learn more.