Because solar panels require sunlight to generate electricity, the simple answer is no, they don’t work at night. Most of the confusion about solar panels working at night is related to solar storage and using a backup power supply during the night.

Let’s see why solar panels are still worth the investment through the use of net metering and backup energy usage to power your home while it’s dark.

DO SOLAR PANELS PRODUCE ENERGY AT NIGHT?

Similar to how solar panels won’t operate at peak efficiency during cloudy conditions, they can’t produce energy at night when there isn’t any sunlight to absorb.

Your panels work hard all day, even through sunset, to ensure you have enough electricity to power your home throughout the day and night. But the photovoltaic (PV) cells in your panels need sunlight to generate that power.

So once the sun goes down, it’s time to take advantage of any excess energy that your system produced during the day. This energy is accessible through your home backup power in a solar battery. If you don’t have a battery, you can tap into your solar credits collected from net metering to source energy during dark hours.

Let’s take a closer look at both of these options.

SOLAR BATTERY STORAGE FOR ENERGY AT NIGHT

Solar batteries allow you to access electricity overnight, when solar panel energy production is dormant. Thanks to backup power, solar panels are a sustainable energy solution around the clock.

Energy stored in solar batteries is accessible anytime in the day. But they’re most helpful at night, when they make the most of your panels’ daytime power generation.

If you own a battery, your solar panels will fill it with any excess energy from the sun that your house isn’t using for real-time electricity purposes. So, instead of sending excess electricity to the grid, you can store it yourself for use on a rainy day — or at night!

This gives you the energy independence to use electricity from your solar battery storage before drawing energy from the grid. Plus, you can use stored energy on more occasions than just nighttime hours.

For example, if there’s a power outage from inclement weather conditions, such as extreme heat and cold or a hurricane, you’ll have peace of mind knowing that you have enough energy on deck to get you through the crisis.

NET METERING KEEPS YOU CONNECTED AT NIGHT

Most utility providers offer net metering programs. Net metering is similar to a savings account in that any excess energy you’re not using to power your home will deposit into the grid. In return, your retail electric provider (REP) will reimburse you or offer solar credits.

During the night, you can draw on the energy credits you’ve accumulated while your solar panels have been hard at work during the day. Most solar system owners have an abundance of credits that they rely on when needed.

Additionally, net metering is a bidirectional connection that allows electricity to flow both to and from your home. When your panels produce excess energy during the day, that energy flows into the grid. And when your panels have dormant production at night, energy from the grid flows into your home.

Grid connection is essentially a shared form of solar energy storage. However, it isn’t offered everywhere. You should research the net metering policies in your area before making any long-term decisions, like investing in a solar panel system or battery storage solution.

NET METERING AND BATTERY STORAGE CAN WORK IN TANDEM

Most solar panel owners connect their system to the grid to take advantage of net metering benefits. Households are also increasingly installing batteries for storage.

However, these two solutions aren’t mutually exclusive — they can work in tandem!

Fortunately, you can program your battery to draw electricity from the grid only once your battery is entirely depleted. Alternatively, you can configure them to work at the same time. This allows you to minimize your electricity bill and maximize your energy security.

Take a look at our solar potential calculator to determine how much solar energy you can feasibly generate.