Do solar panels need direct sunlight?

Living in the cloudy UK, it is natural to wonder whether solar panels need direct sunlight to work? Luckily, we’re here to break down the science behind green energy and help you work out whether solar panels are suitable for your property.

Do solar panels work without direct sunlight?

In short, solar panels don’t need the sun to shine directly on your roof to generate green energy. The electricity is produced from the particles available in the daylight, not the sunlight itself. We explain other details of how solar panels work in this helpful guide.

What happens if you install solar panels where there is no direct sunlight?

We would typically advise installing solar panels in areas of constant or regular shade - such as when a taller building or even trees obscure direct sunlight for much of the day.
However, parts of many roofs will experience some shade at different times of the day, perhaps caused by a chimney or dormer window for example. In these situations, if the shade is only for a short period of time each day, solar panels may still be worth installing.
Solar panels are installed in a “string” - this can mean that the energy production of the whole array can be compromised if even just one panel is obscured by shade. In this instance, our Gurus might recommend the use of optimisers for each of the panels - it’s a small piece of technology which means each panel is optimised individually rather than the whole string. So even if one panel is in shade, the others go on producing free electricity for your home.

We want our customer savings to justify their investments and to provide accurate quotes. That’s why when you use our free and impartial MakeMyHouseGreen tool, our system will analyse information about your geographic location (amongst other details!) and use this to calculate the amount of direct sunlight your roof receives over a year. And your Green Homes Guru will help ensure you find your best panel arrangement.

Will my solar panels work in shade or on a cloudy day?

You now know if solar panels will keep the lights on without direct sunlight. What about the shade or cloudy weather conditions? More good news - solar systems will still work in light shade or on a cloudy day.

As with the lack of direct sunlight, there may be a drop in performance that can be managed by adding extras to your kit. Areas with less direct sunlight have their own benefits, for example, there may be more rain which will take care of your solar system by cleaning the panels for you!

Now that you better understand do solar panels need direct sunlight, why not play around with our exciting tool and calculate how much money green energy can save for your property? If you need more information about generating your energy - we got it covered! Simply check out our other articles, Guru FAQS or drop us an email via

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