More than two million homes have decided to install solar panels since 2019. Solar panels are cheaper and more efficient than ever before, making them an enticing eco-friendly choice when producing energy.

If you’ve thought about solar panels for your home, you might have some questions. Do solar panels need direct sunlight? How exactly do they work?

Here’s an overview of how sunlight and solar panels work together.

Do Solar Panels Need Direct Sunlight?

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The short answer is no. Solar panels can absorb energy both from direct sunlight and indirect sunlight. Though, of course, direct sunlight is better.

This means that even if it’s a cloudy day or there’s shade present, solar panels can still produce energy.

How Solar Panels Work

The particles of sunlight, or photons, are what create electricity when they reach the solar panels. Since the photons are in both direct and indirect sunlight, both kinds of light can be absorbed by the panels.

When the sunlight reaches the solar panels, it’s transformed into electric currents to produce energy.

Ideally, solar panels will be in direct sunlight, so they absorb the most light and create the most energy. But, if the panels are obscured by clouds or shade, this is okay too. It just means that the panels won’t produce as much.

What About Rain, Snow, and Clouds?

Even if it’s raining, snowing, or cloudy, solar panels can still soak up sunlight (just not as much!).

While the panels won’t generate as much electricity when it’s raining, the rain isn’t all negative. It can clean off your solar panels, so they absorb more rays when the sun shines again.

As long as there isn’t a thick layer of snow on the panels, they’ll still collect sunlight! Solar panels are great at soaking in warmth, and melting the snow. Plus, they’re often positioned at an angle, helping snow slide off.


If your solar panels are in the shade, they’re not going to produce as much either. It’s important to consider the solar panel position and orientation on your roof.

It’s best for solar panels to receive at least four hours of direct sunlight each day. Otherwise, they may not produce enough energy to be worth the investment.

Ask These Questions Before Installing Rooftop Solar Panels

Are you wondering if rooftop solar panels are a good choice for your home? Consider the answers to these questions to figure out if it would be beneficial.

How Much Shade Does Your Roof Get?

Take a look at your roof to see how much shade it receives, not just once a day but throughout the entire day. For example, it may be shady in the morning and then receive lots of light in the afternoon.

A professional can also help you calculate how much shade your roof gets during each season if you’re still unsure.

What’s the Weather Like Where You Live?

Does it rain or snow a lot? Is it often overcast? Or do you tend to have lots of sunny, clear days?

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This is important to consider when deciding if solar panels are right for your home, as the more sunlight your area receives, the better investment it will be.

By thinking about these questions before trying to save with solar, you’ll set yourself up for success.

Solar Panels and Sunlight: A Dynamic Duo

So, to answer “do solar panels need direct sunlight?” solar panels work in both direct and indirect sunlight, but direct sunlight is always the goal!

If you’re looking for more interesting tech and solar tips, browse our Technology section to learn more.

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