Solar panels need daylight to generate power. So what happens to that power at night? The short answer is no – solar panels do not generate power at night. However, the reality of solar power is more complex.
Transforming Sunlight into Clean Energy
Solar panels work by converting photovoltaic energy (PV) from sunlight into direct current (DC) power. In most cases, this is then converted to alternating current (AC) power. AC power is standard for US households.
The key in this equation is that PV energy can only be collected by solar panels while there is daylight. No light means no conversion to DC power. This is how we got to the quick and easy answer to whether solar panels work at night.
Maximizing Your Solar Energy Output
If you are considering adding solar panels to your home energy supply, you may have wondered about what to do at night. Although solar panels do not produce power at night, they can still be a source of around-the-clock power for your household. There are two main options for maximizing your solar energy usage: net metering and battery storage.
Net Metering: A Grid-Tied Compromise
Net metering is a symbiotic relationship between your solar panels and the local electric grid. Basically, when your panels produce an excess of electricity during sunny periods, it is sold back to the local power company and helps power other homes. Then, when the sun sets and your solar panels stop producing, you can draw power from the grid like other power customers.
Battery Storage: Off-Grid Independence
Battery storage is another way to maximize your solar energy output. Instead of selling power back to your local utility company, you store it in batteries for later use. This allows you to be completely independent from the local power grid.
Battery storage is an excellent option for remote homesites and is a great way for you to have clean solar energy at night. Technology on solar battery storage options has grown in recent years, and this is now a reasonable option for many people.
Around the Clock Solar Power Is a Reality
Solar energy is growing, and users love their ability to generate clean power for their own homes. Although solar panels are not able to generate power once the sun goes down, there are options to supply around-the-clock power to your household. Grid-tied systems that utilize net metering and battery storage technology allow you to have clean solar power at any time of day or night.