During the day, the sun shines brightly and solar panels get busy absorbing rays and generating electricity. But what happens when the sun goes down? Can solar panels work at night?
Even though solar panels are not actively producing much at night (maybe just a little bit if the moon is bright enough), appliances are still getting power in your home. How?
Your home is connected to a main utility grid. Think of the grid like a giant bank that you can draw power from or even deposit power to from your solar power system. During the day, extra power that your system produces but doesn’t use gets sent back into the electric grid that everyone shares. Your utility company will pay you a set amount for energy that you “sell” back to them. And during the nighttime when your system is not producing enough to power your appliances, you can draw power back from the grid. This process is called net-metering.
For some areas that do not have an efficient electrical grid to rely on (such as rural areas), a battery back-up is also a good choice. Power is generated during the day and then banked in the batteries to be used when needed. This is a great option for agricultural systems.
Solar power technology is ever-expanding and who knows if maybe someday we’ll have panels that can generate 24/7. But for now, we’ll stick with net-metering!