Do solar panels work at night? No, solar panels do not generate electricity at night. However, this doesn’t mean that solar panels can’t power your home, nor does it mean you’ll be left without electricity when the sun goes down. So how does it work?
There are two ways that solar panels can keep your home powered during the night. In this blog, I will cover both options. I’ll also discuss how solar panels work on cloudy or rain days. But before diving into it, let me quickly recap on how solar panels work:
How Do Solar Panels Work?
That we can generate electricity from the sun is not a new idea. It’s something that Thomas Edison spoke about well over 100 years ago. What is new, is advanced solar technology that has made solar panels more efficient and, most importantly, affordable for everyone.
So how does it work?
Solar panels are made of “solar cells”, small units of silicone that capture the sun’s rays. Capturing the sun’s energy between two layers, solar cells gather the sun’s energy and generate direct current electricity.
Your home doesn’t run with direct current. So, an inverter, either attached directly to the solar panels or linked to a solar panel system, transforms the direct current electricity produced by solar panels, into alternating current that your home can use to power appliances, lights, and so on.
Sometimes the term “PV” or “Photovoltaic” is also used to describe solar panels or their process. PV simply means electricity produced by light. Photo meaning “light” and voltaic meaning “anything related to electricity.”
One solar panel is enough to power one or two appliances, but many solar panels together can power your home and reduce your electricity costs.
But what happens when the sun doesn’t shine, for example at night. Do solar panels work at night? Do they still produce electricity?
Do Solar Panels Work at Night?
While solar panels can potentially generate electricity from other sources of light, such as streetlights or the moon, these other forms of light generate too little output for the electricity to be significant. But this doesn’t mean that your home won’t have electricity at night. Here’s how it works:
At Expert Solar, when we design a solar panel system, we use your monthly and yearly electricity usage to determine how many solar panels are needed to produce enough electricity to power your home day, and night.
Throughout the day and as the sun moves through the sky, there will be moments that your solar panels produce more electricity than normal. This is why as part of designing your solar panels system, we analyze what parts of your roof receive the most sunlight and determine the best positioning and angle of the solar panels.
The excess electricity produced by your panels is fed back to the grid, which makes your electric meter run in reverse, or gives you credits. Then, at night when your solar panels aren’t producing power, your home uses electricity from the power grid, making your electric meter run forward (like normal).
This is known as net-metering.
A well-designed solar panel system will produce more than enough solar power during the day, balancing the amount of excess electricity produced with the electricity you use at night. This way, you never have to pay for electricity from the grid.
As most solar panels produce plenty of excess electricity, some utilities provide will give you a rebate or additional credits at the end of the year.
Solar Battery Storage Offers Energy Independence
Above, I explained the primary way that you can power your home during the night. The second way is to invest in a battery storage system.
Many people like the idea of being completely energy independent. Solar batteries offer that.
If you choose to connect solar batteries to your solar panel system, access electricity produced by your solar panels will be stored in your batteries. In turn, the solar batteries store and supply enough electricity to power your home throughout the night.
Many people also install solar batteries to protect their home against power outages. A good solar panel system with solar batteries can keep your home powered for days. Solar batteries give you control of your electricity and complete peace of mind. Should the utility’s grid ever go down, you will continue to have power.
Does Net Metering Still Work If I Have Solar Batteries?
While most solar panel systems you see are connected to the grid to benefit from net metering, more and more homeowners are starting to invest in solar battery storage as a way of guarding against blips and power outages.
This means your solar panel system, solar batteries, and the power grid can all work in tandem to maximize your energy security, and minimize your electric bills.
Solar batteries can be programmed to draw electricity from the power grid only once they have been depleted, or you can configure net metering and solar batteries to work simultaneously.
Whether you choose to use net metering, solar batteries, or both together, a well-designed solar panel system will make sure your home has an abundant supply of clean and renewable energy!
Do Solar Panels Work on Cloudy Days or Rain?
When I was nine years old, I had come home after spending a day at the beach. It was cloudy the entire time I was at the beach so you can imagine my shock when I saw I was sun-burned. That experience taught me that despite clouds, the sun still emits powerful rays.
While your solar panels may not produce the same amount of electricity as they would if they had direct and unclouded sunlight, they do still produce electricity on cloudy or rainy days.
If it’s partly cloudy, your solar panels will still produce a decent amount of electricity. If it’s very cloudy, they may produce 10-25 percent of their normal output.
You may be surprised to hear that solar panels are very popular in some of the cloudiest cities in America. For example, Seattle and Portland rank as some of the top cities for solar, while they also rank for the greatest number of cloudy days. Another example is New Jersey, where solar panels are more and more popular.
At Expert Solar, we examine many aspects to make sure your solar panels produce enough electricity for your home. Things such as your future plans, general weather throughout the year, and even placement of panels are all taken into consideration.
Do Solar Panels Work in The Snow?
While it doesn’t snow in Tampa, I might as well answer this question while I’m at it.
If a solar panel is covered in snow, it’s unlikely it will be able to capture sunlight. However, while it’s snowing if the solar panels can still see sky, they will continue to absorb the sun’s rays and so produce electricity, although less then usual.
Solar panels also absorb the sun’s heat. Their angle, their smooth surface, and heat allows them to shed snow far better then a roof. It’s not uncommon to see a roof covered in snow, yet the solar panels not.
More Questions About Solar?
I hope I have helped answer the question, Do solar panels work at night? If you have any other questions about solar or want to see how much a solar installation will cost for your home, at Expert Solar we have seasoned professionals that have helped thousands of satisfied homeowners with their solar panels.