The Truth About Solar Panels at Night and on Cloudy Days

Let’s keep it real.

Solar panel installations across the country are increasing, mainly because households are keen to save on their electricity bills. Plus, the Inflation Reduction Act empowered businesses and individuals to make the switch.

But there are those who are still on the fence about going solar. Two of the most common questions that we have encountered from customers are:

  • Do solar panels work at night?
  • Do solar panels work during cloudy days or rainy days?

These are some of the issues making potential customers hesitant about solar power.

We’re here to set the record straight and give you the truth.

Solar panels do not work at night.

Any solar company that tells you otherwise just wants to make a sale.

Solar panels derive energy from sunlight and solar panels are made up of photovoltaic cells (PV cells) that absorb sunlight and turn it into electricity. Since there’s no sunlight at night, it won’t work at night.

However, what does power your home during this time can be two things: solar batteries or net metering.

Solar Batteries

Solar batteries can be installed along with your solar power system. These batteries function as a storage for excess electricity.

The fact is, your solar panels may receive more solar energy than you may need in a day and all the extra electricity needs to go somewhere.

Now, during nighttime, your solar panels go into sleep mode and if you want to continue relying on solar energy to power your electricity, you can tap the power on your solar batteries.

Having solar batteries is also a big plus especially when your area experiences power outages.

Net metering

Net metering also acts as another storage option to tap into if you want to save on electricity.

As mentioned earlier, your solar panels typically produce more solar energy than you need. A net meter acts as a sort of conduit that connects you to the grid. For every excess energy that you send to the grid, you’ll be given credits.

You can use these credits to offset on-grid electricity that you use at night; after which, you’ll see the computation of your usage of credits on your monthly electricity bill.

Unlike solar batteries that are physically set up in your home, the use of net meters for electricity storage relies on electricity from the grid.

Solar power efficiency drops during cloudy or rainy days.

Even on cloudy days, there is still some form of sunlight that peeks through. Though you’ll be able to harvest more solar energy when the sun is shining directly, only the efficiency (about 10-25% output) will change during rainy or cloudy days.

In Virginia, we receive about 3.5-4 hours of peak sunlight in a day which is equivalent to 1000 W/m². And we’re only talking about the peak hours; this doesn’t even include the hours that we have moderate sunlight.

The importance of this is that there may be days with intermittent weather, but there are also days when we’re able to enjoy bright sunlit skies. And on those days, your net meter or a solar battery can store enough energy to provide for your needs.

Key Takeaway

Advancements in solar technology are always being made at a rapid pace as demand surges; it’s more crucial now than ever because more states in the country are committing to phasing out carbon emissions.

Who knows, maybe in a few years, there’d be solar panels that can harvest energy from the moon! It’s not impossible.

The future of solar is as big and bright as the sun! So we encourage you to make the switch and be part of an incredible movement that’ll save you thousands and lessen your carbon footprint.

To learn more about solar power and how it can help power your home, contact us at (804) 452-7699.