Some DC residents are surprised at how many solar panels they’ve seen around the District in the past few years, but the area is actually an excellent location to go solar. In fact, more than 57% of DC’s power comes from solar energy — a higher share than California produces.
Part of the shock at this booming success is that many people think you need constant, glaring sun to produce a meaningful amount of energy. That’s not true, and we’ll explain why.
Will Solar Panels Work in the Shade?
The answer here is a definite yes, but it does lead to a second qualifier: How well do they work? It depends on the level of shade and the source, but a general rule of thumb is that you can expect an efficiency reduction of about 50% from full, direct sunlight. Some of the more common sources of shade are trees and foliage, parts of the roof itself, and other panels. Unless your panels are fully blocked almost all the time, you’ll still generate energy in the shade.
Will Solar Panels Work on a Cloudy Day?
On nearly all cloudy days, you’re still getting diffused sunlight that will power your panels at a lower efficiency. Just the way you can still end up with a sunburn on a cloudy day, your panels will get enough light to generate power at a lower rate. If you’re still skeptical, take a look at Germany.
Despite being extremely far north of the equator with some of the fewest sunshine hours and being well-known for dreary, gray days, the country is an international powerhouse when it comes to solar energy.
Solar Panel Misconceptions
The bottom line is you don’t need constant, direct sunlight to make solar panel installation worth it for your home or business. Solar panels can continue producing significant amounts of energy in the snow, thanks to the albedo effect and the fact that snow typically slides right off tilted panels. With technology advancing all the time, today’s panels are much more effective at capturing partial sunlight than they were even a few years ago.
Solar Panel Installation in the DC Area
If you’re interested in installing solar panels in Washington, DC, now’s the time to seize available incentives like the 30% federal tax credit. Revolution Solar is DC’s leading solar energy services provider, with leading-edge engineering design and a permitting process that will have your system installed faster and safer than any of our competitors.