eclipse watchers
 Photo courtesy of Dominique Graves

What Happens to Solar Panels During an Eclipse?

In fact, what does an eclipse teach us about the sun?  That even two minutes without the power of raw solar energy produces noticeable effects.

One of the surprises to me was the chilly air that accompanied the eclipse.  Although in Seattle it ‘just got dim’, 92% of sunshine was blocked by the moon.  Our eyes were able to adjust to the lower light levels, but the air and ground does no such thing.  Likewise, solar panels demonstrated the decrease in energy with mathematical precision.  The graphs below show a normal sunny August morning's energy output vs the output on the morning of the eclipse and as you can see, when it would normally be producing about 5,700 watts, the array bottomed out at just above 200 watts.

aug 16 vs aug 21 at kays

The rapid loss and then regain of solar radiation over such a large geographical area proved to be an instructive and humbling reminder of how we benefit from the sun whether or not we are paying attention to it, and how much we are dependent on its power.  Does solar work in Seattle?  It most certainly does; just try doing without it!

About the author


Started Puget Sound Solar in 2001 with 30 years of construction contracting experience, and a desire to turn Seattle on to solar energy. Achieving NABCEP certification in 2004, Jeremy believes that our customers often follow a path similar to the one he took, starting out with solar daydreaming, then progressing to education on the subject, and eventually leading to action. In addition to leading the company he also does some teaching and speaking engagements about various aspects of solar energy, and experiments relentlessly with various solar, energy efficiency, and electric vehicle projects. Join my circles on G+

Jeremy Smithson

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