Solar generators are portable battery systems powered by solar panels. They offer an excellent renewable energy source that powers many applications at home or on the road. But while solar generators sound great when a constant supply of sunlight is available, many new owners wonder: Do they work on cloudy days?
The short answer is, yes, solar generators work even in overcast weather. However, how well they work depends on the solar panel and the power ratings.
We’ll cover why that is and tell you how much power they can generate. Also, we’ve come up with the four best solar panels on the market for cloudy days so you can gain peace of mind, no matter the weather.
Do Solar Generators Work On Cloudy Days?
Solar generators capture the sun’s energy via solar panels, store it in the power station’s built-in battery, and convert it into AC power through an inverter. The stored energy is then available for use by electronic devices and appliances.
Solar generators use photovoltaic (PV) cells to absorb the sun’s photons. These cells generate electrical currents. The energy flows through the panel’s inverter, which converts into alternative energy.
This renewable energy source produces electricity and heat generation without emitting greenhouse gases or air pollutants. Reducing your carbon footprint is just one of the many environmental benefits of using solar energy.
Despite the need for sunlight to function, solar generators can operate under indirect sunlight to create power as well. The devices use light reflected by the clouds or penetrating through them to generate electricity. This allows generators to charge even in minimal sunlight.
If you’ve ever been sunburnt on a cloudy day, you know that radiation can easily penetrate clouds. Solar generators make use of any light source available. However, the energy production efficiency can be considerably lower. The electricity generated primarily depends on the generator’s quality, the cloud cover, and the solar panels’ conversion rate.
How Much Power Can a Solar Panel Generate on a Cloudy Day?
In general, solar panels won’t work as effectively under cloud cover as they would on sunny days. Generally, the panels generate only about 10 to 25% of their standard conversion rate during overcast weather.
While solar panels do not work as well on cloudy days, that’s certainly not a reason to opt against solar energy.
In fact, many cities that experience the most cloudy and rainy climates have the highest number of solar panel installations. That’s because these areas tend to have very high electric rates. Therefore, occasionally receiving reduced power is still worth the cost-saving benefits of paying excessive energy bills.
It’s also worth noting that the percentage above is only an estimate. Sometimes clouds can reflect and magnify sunlight, resulting in greater power output. You should still expect less than average production during days with little sunlight, but it may not be reduced as much as you think.
The amount of power the solar panel can generate determines how much energy the generator can convert and store. Every panel will have a power output rating, which measures how much electricity an individual panel can produce. The more watts it has, the more power you’ll generate.
Is It Worth It to Use Solar Panels on Cloudy Days?
As mentioned earlier, panels can produce additional power by capturing sunlight and storing energy in the generator. When you want to use the electricity you’ve accumulated, the stored energy will pass through the inverter to convert DC electricity to AC electricity to power your devices.
In short, a solar generator lets you store the extra power generated and use it during cloudy days or even nights when there is no sunlight. We recommend having solar battery backups so that you can still rapidly charge your devices and keep running at full power on cloudy days.
It’s still well worth it to use solar panels on cloudy days. You still receive all the cost-saving energy benefits of renewable energy. You can essentially cut out your energy costs by electing to use your panels all the time. Since solar energy is free of charge and renewable, you won’t need to pay for the power you produce. The cost of solar PV technology has declined by 36% over the last five years.
Furthermore, panels allow you to decrease your carbon footprint and greenhouse gas emissions to help save our planet. They also have little to no maintenance and repair costs while quietly running without producing toxic fumes.
Frankly, solar panels beat every other portable power alternative available. If you’re taking an RV trip, it’s helpful to have a source of alternative power. For example, using a car charger will take much longer to charge devices. Using a gas generator can be more costly since it uses fossil fuel.
Which Solar Panels Work Best in Cloudy Conditions?
Solar panels can use three different types of technology. However, monocrystalline PV panels work best in cloudy conditions. That’s because they perform well in low-light conditions and have high efficiency.
They are made of high-quality silicon and enable electrons to flow freely through the single-crystal structure, resulting in more efficient electricity generation. By efficiency, we mean that these panels allow more electricity production per square area of the panel than other solar technologies. Additionally, monocrystalline panels are less affected by heat, moisture, and other weather conditions, ensuring a longer lifespan.
Here are the best models that use monocrystalline panels from EcoFlow, one of the best solar brands on the market. Utilizing top-of-the-line technology, EcoFlow produces solar generators like the portable River 2 series and the robust DELTA series. These generators are compatible with the solar panels below.
The EcoFlow 110W solar panel works with DELTA and River 2 EcoFlow portable power stations, supplying a source for recharging these products.
The 110W panel is a convenient solution for the off-grid market. This product uses monocrystalline silicon cells that capture enough solar energy to power all your personal devices and even some small appliances.
With a compact size and light weight of 8.8 lbs (4kg), it’s the perfect panel to carry with you during outdoor camping trips. Despite the size, it features an industry-leading 23% conversion rate, which means it’ll capture more energy and charge faster than other panels.
It comes with a hard-wearing protective bag that doubles as a stand. Prop up your panel and adjust it to the correct angle for maximum sunlight exposure.
The 110W panel is also IP68-certified, meaning it’s highly waterproof and durable. No matter the weather, your EcoFlow 110W solar panel will last for a long time.
While 110W is a strong entry point, the EcoFlow 160W solar panel offers more power, allowing you to power more devices and charge faster. It can charge EcoFlow solar generators and portable power stations in only a few hours.
With a high conversion rating of 22%, you can expect enhanced performance even during cloudy and cold conditions. Many other panels will only have a 15% conversion rate, meaning you could be losing out on a lot of power.
The EcoFlow 160W panel is IP67 rated, meaning it’s dust and water-resistant. Additionally, the manufacturers have added an ETFE film to offer protection against heat and ultraviolet light to help increase the product’s lifespan.
If you’re looking to power mini appliances on the go, consider a larger portable solar panel like the EcoFlow 400W. It offers a high output with a 23% efficiency rating, so you are squeezing the energy out of every bit of sunlight, even on cloudy days.
Constructed from durable EVA fiberglass, this 400W solar panel is built to last. It’s considerably larger than the panels mentioned above. However, there’s a convenient shoulder strap that lets you carry it with you wherever you go.
The folding design provides convenient portability allowing you to transport the panel anywhere quickly. In addition, you get a protective case that you can use as a stand, which adjusts from 40 to 80 degrees. The angle adjustment ensures your panel is in prime position to receive the most direct or indirect sunlight possible.
EcoFlow 220W Bifacial
The EcoFlow 220W bifacial is a unique portable solar solution. This two-in-one solution features a primary side with a 220W capacity and 155W on the back, which captures 25% more energy than a traditional solar panel.
Coupled with Ecoflow’s Solar Angle Guide, you can guide your panel in a direction that could receive direct sunlight. Even during cloudy days, you may find cracks of sunlight that have peeked through, allowing you to shorten charging times and increase energy intake. It’s also beneficial to use a mirror so that the light reflected goes directly to the bifacial panel.
This product is masterfully constructed using thin tempered glass, which is five times tougher than other panels on the market. Furthermore, it can withstand outdoor elements, including rain, dust, heat, and water. The glass withstands up to 300 degrees Fahrenheit of heat.
Compared to the previous models, the 220W bifacial solar panel is 10% smaller, saving space while still providing excellent power output due to the bifacial design.
Solar generators can work in many different conditions thanks to modern technological advancements. Many of the best solar panels, like the ones from EcoFlow, can charge even during cloudy, rainy, or winter conditions by capturing indirect sunlight. There are so many costs and environmental benefits to choosing solar. Consider installing solar panels from EcoFlow today!