H ow important is sunscreen for a runner in winter? How important is sunscreen for a runner on overcast days?

Obviously, the answers to those questions depend on so many factors. If you sprint or if you run in the woods, it might be of very little importance. If you do long-distance running, or run along the open highway, it could be more important.

Since installing a solar power generating system, I have been keenly aware of every nuance of solar radiation. This has been the darkest start to winter in…in…probably forever. It’s as if God saw that I had installed my solar power generation and decided to pay a trick on me.

But wait! The system might not be generating at maximum capacity, but it is generating. And that means that solar radiation is coming through.

As a runner, exposing yourself regularly to the sun, you might want to know just how much radiation is seeping through.

Snow on solar panel

This image is of our solar panels covered in snow (yes, the snow that is “supposed” to slide off on its own, without me having to trudge through the snow and remove it manually with a broom). You can see that when this picture was taken, I had already cleared what I could reach with my broom, and a reported the readings to my readers on my solar power blog. The important findings for runners are these:

“If I had cleared the top, I would have generated 270 watts per hour, or 5.4 percent of capacity, even on the most overcast of days. On A less-overcast day, with a thicker snow cover – as the two other days were – I could have increased my power generation from 20 watts to 2000 watts per hour by clearing all the snow.”


That 2000 watts would be 40% of capacity, which I have seen several times on medium-overcast days. In other words, 40% of the radiation of the full sun reaches the solar panels on a clear day. And would reach any runner who happened to be out training that day. On clear days, our system generates at capacity, as if it was June or July, except for fewer hours.

You will have to draw your own conclusions, but here are mine.

In winter, you need sunscreen. Especially if the snow is white and reflective.

On overcast days, if you plan to be out for more than 20 minutes, you need sunscreen. That 20 minutes, of course, depends on how overcast it is, and how strong the sunscreen is (and how afraid you are of getting skin cancer).

Even if you cover yourself in snow, the sun still gets through, so snow does not replace sunscreen. Plus, it’s hard to run while covered in snow.

This post is a guest post by a blogging buddy of mine on behalf of his solar panel blog. It’s a good and interesting point he is making! Here in New Zealand you can get burned on an overcast day, easily! I have also been burned in the snow before so the sun is getting through no matter what the weather.


When I can be I am a regular runner but I am also nothing special and certainly no elite, so in that respect I am regular too. However I do love talking about running and related things and I do have a lot of experience, over 15 years now.

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