Solar panels rely on sunlight to convert light energy into usable electricity. So, to answer the titular question: do solar panels work at night? No, they don’t. However, just because solar panels don’t collect light energy during the night, it doesn’t mean homeowners with solar panels have to start breaking out candles and flashlights when the sun goes down. Here, we’ll explain some key facts about how solar panels work, and how they help homeowners keep their electricity-consumption costs down:
Solar Panels 101
There is some complicated technical science behind solar energy, but the concept is relatively simple. Solar panels collect light from the sun and convert that energy into AC (alternating current) electricity. This electricity then acts to power different appliances in a home –– light bulbs, toaster ovens, refrigerators, etc. When the sun goes down, solar panels aren’t able to collect light anymore (light from the moon and stars is insufficient for energy production).
Solar Panels on Cloudy Days
Similarly, solar panels don’t work as well on cloudy or overcast days as they do on sunny days. Homeowners can expect to see a 10-25% drop in solar-energy production on days when the sun isn’t visible. Contrary to popular belief, solar panels don’t function better on warm days than cold ones. In fact, high temperatures can negatively affect solar-panel machinery. So solar panels are actually most effective in slightly cooler climates.
Solar Energy at Night
As we’ve established above, solar panels produce all of their energy during the day. The good news is that on most days, solar panels will generate excess energy. That energy can be used in a couple of different ways.
First, homeowners may install a solar battery that stores excess energy converted by solar panels throughout the day. Then, at night, the battery can kick into action to produce the electricity needed to power a home.
Second, many homeowners may be able to sign up for a program called net metering. Essentially, net metering is a way for homeowners to use solar power while remaining connected to an electrical grid. Any excess power that solar panels produce throughout the day is then distributed throughout the grid –– and the eclectic company reimburses the homeowner with “credits” which are then used at night or on overcast days.
Of course, lots of homeowners use a combination of a solar battery and net metering to power their homes at night.
Note, net metering is still not available everywhere.
Solar Power Benefits
With solar power, homeowners can save a significant amount of money over a long period of time. Plus, not only will solar panels reduce electricity bills, but they will also increase the value of your home. And, solar panels are energy efficient and great for the environment. Thanks to solar energy, you can save money and feel good about doing so!
Contact the Pros
At Envision, we’re working to make solar panels and solar energy available to everyone in our community. Contact us here, and we’ll gladly conduct a comprehensive energy audit for your home. We’re industry experts who will help you complete this vital home-improvement project.