Do solar lights need direct sunlight? (or just light)

Do solar lights need to be in direct sunlight

No, Solar panels do not require direct sunlight. Only sunlight is required to operate the solar panel it does not have to be direct sunlight. If the panels received an adequate amount of light that is all it needs to operate. Solar panels work even on a cloudy day. But the amount of light it receives determines its efficiency.

Solar panels use the energy of sunlight to generate electricity. It does not necessarily require direct sunlight or solar heat. Solar panel power is generated using photons from the sunlight. When photons from the sun hit the solar panels, they absorb the energy inside the solar panels and produce solar energy.

Yes, sunlight is mattered for efficiency. Solar-powered devices operate at maximum efficiency with good sunlight, but direct sunlight is not the main factor for the generate electricity.

How solar light works?

First of all, you need to know how solar lights are working. This will help you solve many questions about solar lights. There are several main components included in solar lights.

  • Solar panel
  • Batteries
  • Bulbs
  • sensor

The solar panel in the solar lamp is one of the most important components. The solar panel is mounted so that the lamp receives sunlight from the outside. The lamp has a battery installed to store the electricity generated. During the day, the solar panel generates electricity and stores it in the battery. At night, the bulbs light up, by using the stored electricity.

Do solar lights work in shade?

The simple answer is, yes they work under shades.

The only thing solar panels need to work on is sunlight so the panels do not have to be always placed under direct sunlight. But when you are placed under the shade, the amount of sunlight it will get will be decreased. So this will decrease the efficiency of the solar lights. But it does not make solar panels completely useless.

But if you placed solar lights in a very dark area it will decrease the efficiency a lot. So always try to place the panels in an area with an adequate amount of sunlight. From that, you can get the best out of it.

Can you charge your solar light on cloudy days?

Yes, you can charge your solar light even on cloudy days. But the charging speed will be lower than a sunny day.

But surprisingly for some cloudy days, the solar lights can work more efficiently than on a sunny day. on a day when the sun is shining, the temperature is also high. Solar lights do not work as efficiently at high temperatures as other electrical items. But on a cloudy day temperature is lower than a sunny day so solar panels can be running with maximum efficiency without any heating.

So solar-powered light can be used on a cloudy day. Even on a heavily cloudy day with no sunlight, solar light can provide the light using stored energy. So you can use solar light even if you are living in an area with frequent rain.

How winter season affect solar lights?

There are so many assumptions about using solar lights in the winter season. You also may think that it is impossible to use solar panels in the winter season. But we can use solar lights in the winter season too. As we mentioned before every solar-powered item only needs solar light to generate power, not heat.

So as we know even in the winter season, we get sunlight without any problem. But the problem is, in the winter season the daytime is shorter than the summertime. So the amount of time we get the sunlight is shorter. So this will decrease the efficiency of the solar lights.

And the other difficulty is you have to clean the solar lights installed in the garden more frequently because of the fallen snow. As dense snow layers block the sunlight it will decrease the efficiency of your lights.

But an advantage of the winter season is the cold temperature. Cold temperatures increase the efficiency of solar panels. This is because cold temperature panels are less resistant to electron flow. So it will produce more power.

Can you charge solar light through the window?

If the window is made up of a transparent, thin material then the efficiency of charging is not much different from the charging by using direct sunlight.

But if your window is thick the efficiency will be less as the window absorbs a portion of the sunlight received throughout the day. If the window is made up of dark, tinted, or opaque material then the solar light efficiency will be very low or they might not even charge as the lights do not receive any sunlight through the window.

Can you charge solar light without sunlight?

No, you cannot charge solar lights without sunlight.

All solar equipment needs sunlight to work. There is a simple scientific theory behind this. As we all know sunlight is made up of electromagnetic radiations such as ultra violate, infrared, and visible light. A bundle of the energy of the sunlight or electromagnetic radiation is called a photon. So we can simply say the total energy of sunlight is made up of a collection of photons. When these photons hit the solar panel, solar panels absorb these photons or energy. Because of the increased energy of the atoms of the material the atomic electrons will be released. As these electrons travel through the panel it generates a direct current in opposite direction. This direct current will be stored in the battery in the daytime and used at night. So as you can see you cannot charge the solar light without sunlight. To understand more about this read our article “How does solar energy work to produce electricity?

But there are some exceptions. If you use a very high Wattage bulb, the light from that bulb can generate power within the solar panel. But this is not practical as your original target is to get free energy from the sunlight. You can use this method for low Wattage equipment such as a portable flashlight in an emergency case.

Also, there is some hybrid equipment available in the market the allows you to use them with grid connection whenever the power from the solar panel is not enough. So you can use this equipment at night, on a cloudy or rainy day without any hassle.

How does heat affect solar panels?

Increased heat will decrease the efficiency of your solar panel. According to literature, solar panels will lose their efficiency at temperatures above 25 deg C or 77 deg F. The reason behind this is very simple. When the heat of the solar panel increases the resistance to the electron flow also increases. So this will decreases the amount of direct current generated by your solar panels. So always try to keep the temperature of your solar panels low.

To know more about the factors that affect the efficiency of solar panels read our article “12 factors that affect the output of solar panels”.


Solar light is one of the most popular solar-powered gadgets in today’s market. But when using these lights most users assume that these lights need direct sunlight to work.  But always fixing these lights under direct sunlight is not practical at all. Even though direct sunlight increases the efficiency of solar lights, not having direct sunlight is not a problem at all. So without any problem, you can use solar light in any place if it has an adequate amount of sunlight. But always keep in mind you cannot use these solar lights in dark areas in the garden or any room that is covered with opaque or tinted glasses.

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