Do solar solar panels work at night?
How do solar panels work at night
The short answer is, they don't! Solar PV systems instantly convert the sun’s light into usable electricity through an inverter. This means that they need direct sunlight to work.
There is a common misconception that it has to be a beautiful, hot, sunny day for the panels to work effectively. The solar panels do not need heat, just light, this means that even on an average British day the panels will work efficiently.
The only time the solar panels will not work is overnight, or when it is extremely cloudy. Although the light from the Moon is a reflection of the light from the Sun, it is not the same as direct sunlight. This means that the Moon cannot power your solar panels.
One way to receive the benefits of solar power around the clock is by installing a solar battery. The batteries are charged with excess solar power that the solar panels produce during the day. You are then able to use these batteries to power your house with solar power overnight and when sunlight is not available.
Solar batteries are definitely the way of the future. Imagine a whole country being able to run on a clean, unlimited source of energy such as the Sun! However, as they are a relatively new technology, solar batteries are still quite expensive and their reliability has not been fully tested. Solar batteries will improve in efficiency and reduce in price as they become more widely used over the next few years. As the time to buy solar panels is now you shouldn’t delay whilst waiting for solar battery technology to improve. You can always consider adding a battery in the future when they are more cost efficient, just be sure to check that your inverter is battery ready.
Do most household’s solar panels work at night?
Solar panels cannot yet store energy. All of the energy that the solar panels produce is converted directly into usable electricity through the inverter. This means that solar panels cannot power a household overnight. One way to use solar power throughout the night is with a solar battery, which stores the solar power produced in the daytime. However, as they are still fairly new and expensive most households do not have one yet.
This does not mean that your house will be left without electricity at night! When there is no direct sunlight you automatically return to using the National Grid for your energy supply. Most people install solar panels to avoid the high prices from using the grid’s energy. However, only using the grid at night and in extremely cloudy conditions will still significantly reduce your energy bills, on average by £125 a year.
Getting the most from your solar panels during the day
Getting the most out of your solar panels during the day is all about small changes and planning ahead. You can see greater savings on your energy bills by using energy draining appliances, such as washing machines and dishwashers, during the day when your solar panels will convert sunlight directly into the electricity needed for these appliances.
You can also stagger the use of these appliances. You may only produce enough solar power to run one high energy appliance at a time. Therefore, if you want to run two at the same time you will need to use some of the more expensive power from the grid. This can be avoided by running the appliances one after the other instead.
Knowledge is the most useful tool for gaining the best savings from your solar panels. If you know how much energy you are producing and how much energy your appliances need, it becomes very easy to plan your electricity usage accordingly. You can see how much energy you are producing on the inverter. However, as most inverters are in awkward or hard to access places, such as the attic, you may want to invest in an Energy Monitor. Energy monitors are small, not too expensive and can be put in a more convenient place for everyday access.
This may seem like a lot of work but these small changes can easily become a part of your daily routine. Even if you do not make too many changes to your regular energy usage solar panels will still save you money, as you will be using less of the expensive energy from the grid during the day. It is also important to remember that you are not locked into your energy provider for the energy that you will use from the grid. You can still shop around for the best rates and deals!