Do Solar Panels Work At Night Or On Cloudy Days? May 2024 – MarketWatch

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Since the sun is not out at night, solar panels cannot absorb sunlight to convert it into electricity. While solar panels can technically use artificial light to generate power, this method is not as effective as using a natural light source. Unlike sunlight, artificial lighting is not free — you would need electricity to power the light fixtures. As a result, your electricity consumption may be higher than the output of your solar panels, which can waste energy and money.

Alternatively, you can use a solar battery to store excess energy production for use at night. You can use stored energy whenever you want, whether it be at night or on cloudy days. You can also use a battery bank, like the Tesla Powerwall or Generac PWRcell, as an off-grid electricity source during power outages.

If you don’t want to invest in a solar battery, which can add upwards of $10,000 or more to your total system cost, you can also rely on grid power at night. As long as your system is connected to the power grid, you can draw energy as needed to power your home. However, you will have to pay full retail price for any energy you use.

Using Solar Net Metering To Cover Nighttime Consumption

If you have access to a net metering or solar buyback program, you can use the local power grid as your battery. With net metering, you send the excess energy your solar panels generate during the day back to the grid in exchange for power bill credits. Your utility will then apply earned credits to your power bill to cover your nighttime or other consumption.

For example, say your solar panels send 10 kilowatt-hours (kWh) of excess energy to the grid during the day, and you consume 15 kWh at night. With a net metering program that offers credits at the full retail rate of electricity, you would only have to pay for the 5 kWh difference in energy usage.

However, not all states offer net metering programs. If your electric company does not offer this benefit, your only option for storage is a home battery. While states with net metering policies require utility companies to give you credit for excess solar energy, not every program offers billing credits at the full retail rate of electricity.

Even if your state does not have a net metering policy, you may find energy companies that offer the benefit voluntarily. You can check with your utility company or solar installer to learn more.

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