Solar energy is the most innovative and popular form of energy nowadays. Though it is not a new invention, yet, technology is making improvements. It has got more fame in the last decade being the cleanest and easiest form of energy. It is affordable for everyone. But, this technology is a mystery for some people. They ask if solar panels work at night or not. Either they produce energy in cloudy weather or not. These questions are valid because the sole source of energy for solar panels to produce electricity is sunshine. This article will cover all these mysteries. Keep reading to get all your answers about solar energy.
What are solar panels?
This is the most basic question asked by people about solar energy systems. Solar panels are the basic unit of the solar energy system. These are composed of small units called photovoltaic cells. These cells are connected by wire. The function of these cells is to absorb the light and convert it into Direct Current. The number of solar panels needed depends upon the energy requirements. The single solar panel can run 1 or 2 home appliances. You may need more solar panels for running more home appliances.
How do solar panels work?
When sunlight hits the solar panels, the photovoltaic cells absorb the energy and convert it into direct current. This direct current is passed through a device called an “Inverter”. The function of the inverter is to convert the Direct Current into Alternative Current so it can be used to run home appliances. Most home appliances are designed to run on AC (Alternative Current). It is expected that soon home appliances will be designed to run on Direct Current due to the popularity of solar energy. Most of the energy is usually used while the rest of the energy is sent to batteries to be stored for dark hours.
What are the dark hours? It refers to the night when the sun is not shining in the sky. Does it mean solar panels do not work at night?
Do solar panels produce energy at night?
Solar panels work in bright sunlight. They do not produce energy when sunshine is not available. As the sun sets and it is dark all around, solar panels stop producing energy. Solar panels can convert the light coming from stars, the moon, or streetlights into electricity. But their output is very low, almost Zero. That’s why solar panels stop working at night.
Now you may be thinking about what about overcasting weather when clouds surround the sun and sunlight is blocked.
Do solar panels produce energy in cloudy weather?
As mentioned above, the main source of generating energy from solar panels is sunlight. However, solar panels keep working on cloudy days but they are less efficient. They produce about 10% to 25% of their original output in bright sunlight when it’s cloudy. It also depends upon the thickness of clouds surrounding the climate.
The temperature also affects the efficiency of solar panels. They work best in bright sunlight at temperatures up to 25 degree Celsius. An increase in temperature decreases the output of solar panels. It is noticed that many cloudy areas having cool temperatures produce more energy that the areas with bright sunshine and hot temperature. It is quite a surprising fact about solar panels.
So, you can say clouds can decrease the efficiency of solar panels but they keep working. On the other hand, they need normal temperatures to work better (up to 25 degrees Celsius). Hence, only clouds are not the single reason for deficiency in production, temperature also plays an important role in this concern.
How to get solar energy at night?
Unfortunately, solar panels do not produce energy at night. But the good news is, they produce extra energy during the day. You can use a solar battery storage system to collect the extra produced energy in the daytime to use at nighttime. You can also use the Net-metering if the battery storage system is not suitable for you. You are advised to choose wisely between both options.
- Solar Battery Storage:
Solar systems are mostly installed to produce the extra energy that you require. There are many options for solar battery storage systems in the market. You can choose any of them and install them at home. Your solar system will start charging the batteries during the day with the extra energy produced. Solar panels will stop producing energy and you can run all the appliances on the energy stored in the batteries.
In this solution, you don’t need any type of physical storage of energy at your home. Your solar panels will produce extra energy in the daytime. The grid will use this energy and provide you energy at night when you can’t get energy from the solar panels. The extra energy will be exported to the grid. The exported energy will be credited to your account.
Later at night, your solar panels will stop producing energy. You will have to use electricity from the grid. At the end of the month, your used units and your exported units will be set off. You may have to pay a little amount against the energy used by the grid. Utility Companies give you credit on the retail price or wholesale price depending upon the policy of the company.
All the myths and mysteries are briefly described above. It can be concluded that solar panels are the best energy solution for people who want to save money. Solar energy is the best source of green energy as well. You don’t need to worry about the night or cloudy days when using solar energy. Solar panels keep working on cloudy days with a little less efficiency. You will be able to get energy in overcast weather. You can use solar battery storage or net-metering policy to use energy at night. No matter if solar panels stop producing energy, your home will be lightened and warm without any worries.