When going solar, most homeowners are worried about whether they will have electricity during nighttime or in winter, when the sunlight isn’t present or is weaker. That is why we want to help and answer the following question: do my solar panels produce power when the sun isn’t shining?
Here’s everything you need to know, from how efficient panels can be with little sunlight to how you can store excess energy generated during the sunniest periods.
Do Solar Panels Work at Night Time?
As you already know, solar panels work by converting sunlight into DC energy. In order for the appliances in a home to work, this energy is converted into AC via an inverter.
Naturally, when there is no sunlight, the panels have nothing to convert. In other words, they cannot work at night. They can generate electricity only during the day, and they are at their most efficient between 11 AM and 4 PM when the sun is at its strongest.
What About Overcast Days?
On the other hand, solar panels can indeed work on cloudy days. Their efficiency will be limited, but they will definitely produce some power. If you think about it, this makes perfect sense.
Namely, the sun isn’t absent on cloudy days. It is still right there in the sky, although it is covered by clouds which prevent most of its rays from reaching your home. Still, your panels will register sunlight regardless of their strength, and they will continue generating power.
The same will happen if there is rain. In fact, some rain might also be helpful for your energy production, as it can clean the panels from dirt and debris. Thus, it can make them slightly more efficient.
How Will You Power Your Home at Night and During the Winter, Then?
Luckily, you can still have more than enough power at night, during overcast, and cold days. All you need are either backup batteries or a great net metering policy. Both of them can help you store excess energy created during peak hours and months.
Namely, your panels work best during the summer and early spring and fall. During these seasons, the sun is at its strongest and shiniest, so an abundance of sunlight reaches the panels for the better portions of the day.
During the said times, your panels generate much more electricity than you could possibly spend. If you don’t have batteries or a net metering policy, this excess power will simply be lost.
But if you invest in these backup systems, you will be able to store the excess energy. Then, you will have a chance to use it during the winter or at night, when the panels are less active or inactive.
Net-Metering or Batteries?
Which backup plan you will pick depends on your own preferences and budget. They are both equally effective.
If you opt for net metering, the excess power your panels generate will go back into the electricity grid. To compensate you, your utility company will give you power credit that you can use when your panels aren’t enough to power your home.
On the other hand, buying backup batteries means that you will not depend on your utility company at all. All excess power will simply go onto the batteries, and you can use it whenever you want. While definitely more expensive, this option makes you more independent.
Solar panels work best on sunny and warm days when the sun is high up in the sky. They work less effectively during the winter and cloudy days, and they are completely inactive at night.
However, net metering policies and backup batteries can ensure that you have enough power all year long, no matter the weather or time of day. Thus, make sure to discuss your options with your solar provider prior to making a purchase.