Do solar energy systems work on overcast days?

A question we’re often asked by customers enquiring about a solar energy system for their Victorian home (or even their business) is:

Do solar energy systems work on cloudy (or overcast) day?

Australia is infamous for its beautiful sunshine and is one of the factors behind the success of installation of solar energy systems across the country, now accounting for 17% of total energy generation.

Here’s a fantastic study that breaks down the level of sunshine by continent and according to the Australian Energy Resource Assessment featured in the article, “The Australian continent has the highest solar radiation per square metre of any continent in the world.”

Brilliant – all homes and businesses across Australia should embrace solar – no excuses! 🙂


Do the solar panels work efficiently on cloudy days?

The short answer is “yes they do“. However, they won’t supply as much generated energy as their system is able to supply. Solar PV systems supply the highest levels of energy generation when bright sunlight is hitting them directly. The theory is that your solar PV systems will still be able to generate at least 25% of the energy on a cloudy day compared to a sunny day because solar PV generates energy from 2 different types of light; visible light and infrared light. Both are still available on a cloudy day, the former is a bit darker, but the latter is unaffected.

Visit some European countries, like the UK and you’ll quickly notice a lack of solar energy systems on homes and businesses. In fact, solar energy only generates 3.9% of their energy supply (source), although this has increased recently. And, you might think this is due to their lack of sunshine and regular rainfall…but you’d be wrong.

Germany is a great example of a European country that sees lots of rain but thanks to investment in the industry 50% of their electricity requirements are now generated by solar energy.

We’re very lucky in Australia that we don’t need to have concern about cloudy or rainy days when it comes to the benefits of installing a solar energy system on your home, but it’s reassuring to know that on the rare cloudy days we do have our solar PV systems will still work.

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