Not all solar panels work in exactly the same way.
Yes, the general idea of most solar panels is to capture the sun’s energy, and use that energy to help you charge DC batteries and devices.
But, the best solar panels for cloudy days and shade for example, are designed slightly differently to some of the more common panels.
Continue reading below to find out how this is possible, and how it might effect your decision for which solar panel to get.
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Best Solar Panels For Cloudy Days & Shady Areas
What Are The Different Types Of Solar Panels?
There two main types of solar panels when it comes to the materials the panels are made from:
1. Crystalline panels
2. Thin Film & Amorphous Silicon
How Are These Types Of Panels Different?
1. Crystalline Panels
We are talking about monocrystalline and polycrystalline solar panels
Why are they called mono, and poly you ask? Well it has to do with the way the panels are made.
Solar panels are made up of several individual solar cells.
A monocrystalline panel contains cells that are grown from a single silicon cell, to a single crystal – which is used to form a solar cell.
A polycrystalline panel contains cells that are grown from a single silicon cell, to multiple smaller crystals – which is used to form a solar cell.
That’s a very simple and basic way to explain a more complicated and in depth process – but, it’s the main difference.
Monocrystalline and polycrystalline solar panels are designed to be most efficient in the light than any other type of solar panel.
This means they convert the highest amount of sun to solar energy than any other panel when the panel is directly in the sun.
When not in the sun though, the efficiency and output of these panels can drop significantly.
2. Amorphous Silicon & Thin Film Panels
Monocrystalline and polycrystalline solar panels are made from crystals, but amorphous silicon panels are non-crystalline i.e. not made from crystals.
Instead, the silicon is applied in one or several thin photovoltaic films to panel substrates such as glass, metal and plastic – which can be flexible or bendable.
These panels are usually more inexpensive to manufacture, but are less established in the solar industry than crystalline panels.
Always do your research on things like quality and warranties if considering an amorphous silicon panel.
Which Of These Solar Panels Are Better For Cloudy Days & Shady Areas?
Amorphous silicon solar panels in theory.
Well, Amorphous silicon solar panels work efficiently in the shade and on cloudy days by absorbing a broader range of light than crystalline panels.
They pick up lightwaves like infrared and UV that are available whether they are in the sun or not.
It is this absorption of a broader range of lightwaves that allows amorphous solar panels to be more efficient in cloud cover and in the shade than crystalline panels.
What is a practical situation where an amorphous solar panel might be advantageous over a crystalline panel? A sailboat is a good example.
On a sail boat, the sail itself can cast shadows frequently over your solar panel – which is where an amorphous panel would thrive.
But, you’d have to weigh this up against the much better efficiency of a crystalline panel in the direct sun – so estimate the approximate number of sun hours you get daily.
Where Can I Check Out An Amorphous Solar Panel?
Unisolar does a decent quality amorphous solar panel which has an easy peel and stick installation (and can be fastened as per manufacturer instructions).
It’s a 24v solar blanket intended for metal roofs, Rv’s, boats and home and commercial applications.
You can check it out here:
Uni-Solar PVL-136 Power Bond Flexible Solar Panel (on Amazon)
Coleman also does a hard amorphous solar panel – intended for charging 12v batteries in vehicles and devices like cars, boats, RV’s, electric fences, and deer feeders.
It’s a smaller 10 Watt panel. You can check it out here:
Coleman 58025 10W Amorphous Solar Panel (on Amazon)
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