Picture this: You’re up at midnight watching the recent blockbuster you’ve been dying to see. It’s the final showdown between villain and hero. Everyone is on the edge of her seat. And then…the power clicks off. Wonderful. A power outage can be a source of concern for prospective solar owners—and for good reason! This article will discuss how homeowners maintain a constant energy source dark or cloudy hours.
So, can solar panels work at night? The short answer is no. Direct sunlight is needed to convert photovoltaic energy (PV) into direct current (DC) power. Some think that a full moon can provide minimal energy, but moonlight is merely a reflection of the sun’s light and does not produce any energy on its own. However, there are several ways to maximize the sun’s power during the day to have 24/7 access to power during the nighttime hours. Here’s how:
With this option, solar panels are connected to a “lifeline”: the main utility grid. When panels aren’t producing sufficient energy (whether at night or on overcast days), power is drawn from the community’s power source. Solar panels go on standby mode and kick on again when the sun is out.
This process also works in the reverse order. If your system overproduces (usually in the summer months), the energy generated can be sold back to the utility company in a process called “net-metering”.
2. Battery Bank
The battery bank is a highly successful way to provide power at night. Instead of linking to a main power grid, power is generated 100% from the solar panels. Street lamps and signs use this method. The panels store up energy during the day and consume it during the day. The same principle is used to power homes during the day. Solar batteries also allow for the luxury of having power during an outage. Since the system doesn’t rely on community power, a strong storm or knocked-down power line has no effect on the functionality of your system.
What about cloudy days?
Solar panels do work on cloudy days. However, clouds (and smog) thin sunrays. On overcast days, solar panels produce about 10-25% of their normal capacity. Surprisingly, the frequency and intensity of sunny days are not the only determinant factor in solar panels’ effectiveness. One of the strongest indicators for panels is the cost of electricity in the city. For example, San Francisco is famous for the stubborn fog that hangs over the city; however, it is one of the top solar cities in the United States. Why? Electricity prices are sky high in San Francisco. This means that homeowners reap major benefits quickly.
Solar is becoming increasingly popular across the United States. Whether you choose a grid-tied or off-the-grid option, backups are in place to ensure constant access to electricity. Click here for a free quote!