Do Solar Panels Work At Night?
Your solar panels are constantly generating electricity as long as they are exposed to direct sunlight.
But what happens once the sun goes down? Are you left with no power?
If you are planning to opt for solar, it is important to understand if solar power can be a reliable source of energy, even at night.
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Do solar panels work at night?
The simple answer is No. Without direct sunlight available, the solar panels do not produce electricity.
Night-time energy usage differs according to whether you are a residential, industrial or commercial user. Right from lighting need, using consumer electronics like TV and Computer, charging electronic devices at home to use of heavy machinery in the industry through the night, energy usage varies and seamless access to adequate power is absolutely necessary.
Even though solar panels do not produce power at night, the idea is to generate excess energy in the daytime so as to offset the night time consumption, which can be achieved by adopting on of the following methods.
Net metering allows the user to export excess energy generated in the day time, and take credit for same. This credit can be used when the user is importing the energy from the grid (during Night time or when consumption is more than average). At the end of each month, the user is billed only for NET USAGE of electricity, and hence the term Net Metering. To be able to export the excess energy to the grid, the user has to enter into a regulatory arrangement (in form of an agreement) with their Electricity Distribution Company (DISCOM), and install a special kind of meter, known as Net Meter (which replaces the existing meter). The Net Meter allows recording of both Export and Import of energy to-and-fro the grid. This method is now gaining popularity due to its cost-effectiveness and technical simplicity. Both Central and State Governments are putting efforts in easing the process and creating awareness among electricity users.
Related Article: About MAHADISCOM net metering
Another way of using excess energy generated during day time, is to store it in Batteries, and use them in the time of need. In past (before Net metering was available), having batteries in the Solar Plant were only option to utilize solar energy. But after net metering framework came into being, the popularity of using batteries has declined. However, the batteries have still not lost their relevance, and useful in very specific scenarios, viz. –
a) Typically in remote areas, or places with poor grid reliability – eg. Vacation Homes, Petrol Pumps, Rural Area, Hotels & Lodges in remote locations, etc.
b) Where critical loads need to be run, and un-interrupted power supply is needed – eg. Hospitals, IT Industry, Telecommunication Facilities, Food Processing centres, etc.
The batteries do require regular maintenance, but with right selection of Quality, Specifications and Maintenance Plan, the system can produce optimum benefit for the user.
Does getting solar power make sense knowing a PV system produces power only during the day?
Yes. Here’s why:
It is a Viable Investment
The most indicative factor for the profitability of solar panels is the cost of electricity, not the amount of sunlight panels receive. Since electricity rates are on the rise and the price of solar system components is falling, solar power savings look promising with healthy IRR and ROI rates.
It is Reliable:
As long as the sun comes up every morning, you can be assured that your solar PV system is going to keep producing clean, cheap energy.
The Technology Advantage:
The solar industry is now seeing some of the best technologies in the market, allowing cost effective way of reducing the dependence on grid supply.
Whether you decide to opt for a solar battery, a net metering connection or stagger your power usage, consult an expert solar power service provider. They can recommend the best option for you after analyzing your energy requirements.