Did you know that in 2020, the US generated 4.2 trillion kilowatt-hours (kWh) of electricity? Eco-friendly solar panels accounted for 2.3% of that electrical power source. That might seem small, but it still translates to 96.6 billion kWh of energy!
What’s more, experts say those figures will go up as more people decide to go green and save money along the way.
The big question now is, can you also use solar energy to save on electricity at night? This guide explains in detail the answers to that question, so be sure to read on.
Do Solar Panels Generate Energy at Night?
No, solar photovoltaic (PV) panels don’t create energy when it’s dark.
What PV panels can do is generate power from direct or even indirect and reflected sunlight. That’s why they can still produce some energy during overcast days.
Still, keep in mind that solar panels work best when they get direct sunlight exposure. Also, the more intense the sunlight is, the more energy your PV panels can harness.
Can You Use Solar Energy as a Power Source at Night?
The inability to create power in the dark is no doubt one of the disadvantages of solar energy systems. However, this doesn’t mean your PV system can no longer supply energy at night. On the contrary, it can, so long as you store the extra power generated in the day in solar batteries.
Solar batteries are special batteries designed to store solar energy. You can think of them as a power bank; they serve as a power source for nighttime or emergency use.
What Can You Do to Get Excess Solar Power for Nighttime Use?
The direction your panels face is critical to the amount of power they can generate. In the US, many solar panel installation experts recommend south-facing systems. That’s because this direction allows the PV panels to get the most direct sunlight.
East- or south-facing panels generate solar power, too. However, they produce about 20% less energy compared to south-facing panels.
All in all, the more sunlight exposure your panels get, the greater their energy output. That output can then exceed your actual daytime energy use at home. In this case, you can store the excess energy in solar batteries and use the stored power at night.
Another trick is to invest in high-performance solar panels with high wattage ratings. Most residential solar panels in the market have ratings of between 250 and 400 watts per hour. That’s the amount of power they can generate within an hour.
So, higher-wattage panels generate more power. That also means they’re more likely to create excess power that you can then store in batteries.
However, keep in mind that such panels are more expensive than lower-rated panels. Still, their greater output may be enough to offset their higher costs.
Use Solar Energy Even at Night
Now, you know that solar panels don’t generate energy in the evening. However, you can still use the excess power they created during the day at night.
All you need is to invest in solar batteries to store the extra energy output of your PV panels. This way, you can have a reliable power source even when the sun has set for the day.
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