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Do Solar Panels Need Direct Sunlight to Function?

If you’re considering the switch to solar energy, you probably have a lot of questions. Many homeowners are new to solar panels and have questions like, “Do solar panels need direct sunlight?” 

As one of the leading solar installers in Arizona, Solar Solution AZ wants homeowners to have all the information they need before making the transition to renewable energy. In this guide, the team shares how solar panels use the sun to power your home and store excess energy for later use.

How Solar Panels Work

Solar panels work by absorbing light from the sun’s rays and converting it into usable energy. The panels are photovoltaic—they use particles of light called photons to generate electricity.

Can Solar Panels Work in the Shade?

If solar panels absorb photons from sunlight, do they work when it’s overcast? It turns out photons are present in both direct and indirect sunlight. So, even when there’s partial shade, your home’s solar panels are still getting the photons they need.

Essentially, that means solar panels can still power your home without any sunlight, though it depends on several other factors. For example, the following are some things that help your solar panels work for you, no matter the weather conditions:

Solar Panel Batteries

Solar panel batteries are a fantastic investment for homeowners looking to optimize their panels. These solar cells take any excess energy your panels generate during times of direct sunlight and store it for later use. It’s a backup for times of complete darkness, such as overnight or during bad storms, but it also helps on days that are less sunny than you need.


Do solar panels need direct sunlight if batteries aren’t in use? That depends on the inverter your system has in place. 

Solar inverters convert direct current from your solar panels into alternative current electricity, which powers your home. The type of inverter your system uses will impact how much energy you get in times of little to no sunlight. For instance:

  • Central string inverters only require sunlight on one panel for the entire system. 
  • Micro inverters require sunlight on all panels for better energy performance.

Duration of Shade

One of the main factors impacting how well your solar panels work is the duration of shade or sunlight hours. The solar panels will typically need direct sunlight for around four hours per day for optimal use. If there are sunny periods scattered throughout the daylight hours, your panels should still be generating electricity.

If you have darkness or severe thunderstorms lasting several days without sunlight, this will impact how much energy your panels create. Your system then relies on things like solar batteries for the energy your home needs.

Optimize Your Solar Panels with Solar Solution AZ

Do solar panels need direct sunlight to function in your area? How do solar panels work for your needs? Solar Solution AZ’s technicians can explain the mechanism behind solar panels, the installation process, and your renewable energy journey, so call 520-858-0220 today for a consultation!


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