Do Solar Lights Have to Be in Full Sun to Work?

A solar light takes power directly from the sun by using a panel that absorbs the sun's rays to generate electricity. Full sunlight is not required for solar lights to work; however, as sunlight decreases, so does the light's power.

Solar Panel

The sun provides energy to power a solar light.

A solar panel is comprised of solar cells that convert light energy, called photons, into electricity. According to the book "Power from the Sun," solar lights function best and shine brightest in full sunlight, as the panel receives higher levels of photons.

Light Clouds

In light cloud cover or shade, a solar panel still receives filtered sunlight and photons, allowing it to produce energy and power the light. According the book, "Solar Power Your Home for Dummies," solar panels in light to medium cloud cover receive approximately half the energy of a panel in full sunlight.

Heavy Clouds

According to the book, "Solar Power," in heavy cloud cover or dark shade, a solar panel functions at approximately 20 percent of its normal capacity. So long as the sky is not completely dark, solar lights will continue to function.


Some solar lights come equipped with rechargeable batteries that retain absorbed power to keep the light running at peak capacity in all conditions.

Photo Credits