One of the most common questions people who are considering switching to a solar energy system ask is, “do solar panels work at night or when it isn’t sunny?”. The simple answer is, no, solar panels don’t produce energy at night. But let’s go a little deeper into this question.
What it’s really asking is, will my solar panels produce enough energy if they aren’t constantly in direct sunlight? What happens if it’s cloudy or when it’s darker for longer in the winter months?
Collecting & Storing Solar Energy
Your solar panels actively work all day to collect sunlight and convert it into usable energy. When the sun goes down, panels become inactive and stop producing electricity.
However, that doesn’t mean your home won’t have power through the night! While solar panels don’t produce energy at night, your solar energy system uses battery banks to store energy or your system may rely on net metering.
Solar Battery Storage
Most solar energy systems and panels are designed to produce more energy than your home would need on a typical day. That excess energy is stored in a battery if you have a grid-tied solar system with a battery backup.
Some utility companies offer net metering but remember that it isn’t provided everywhere and is left up to the discretion of individual utility companies. This is different than allowing grid-tied solar systems, which all utility companies do allow.
When it is available, net metering works by storing excess electricity produced by your solar panels in your local power grid (instead of in a battery). In return, your utility company can give you reimbursement or credit on your utility bill.
Net metering specifically refers to your utility company crediting extra power your system has produced. Most electric co-ops (also called REMCs) will credit this power at a lower rate than what you receive from them and the rate varies depending on each REMC’s rates.
The Future Of Solar
While solar panels don’t collect energy from the sun during nighttime hours, advances in the solar energy industry are always possible.
Researchers at the University of California Davis are working on creating thermoradiative solar cells that could heat and draw energy from the night sky. This type of photovoltaic cell could potentially keep generating power without relying on storage in a battery or power grid.
According to the study, prototypes are producing 50 watts of electricity per square meter, which is approximately 25% of what traditional solar panels are able to produce during daylight hours.
Advanced Solar Is Here To Help
Have questions about how switching to solar energy works and if it’s the best choice for your home or business? We’re here to answer your questions and help you find the best solution!