What Happens at Night with Solar Panels?
Powering your home or business with solar energy has a lot of upsides. Solar panels can help you save money on your electric bills, avoid volatile electricity rates, and reduce your carbon footprint. But solar panels have one major downside—they don’t work at night.
Because solar panels don’t work without the sun, you can’t use them once it gets dark outside. But that doesn’t mean you lose power at night with solar panels.
Keep reading to learn more about what happens to solar panels at night.
How Do Solar Panels Work at Night?
Solar photovoltaic panels rely on sunlight to produce electricity. They work by absorbing light and using it to generate an electrical current. Sunlight is essential to this process, and your solar panels won’t work without it. But don’t worry—even though your solar panels will turn off at night, you’ll still have access to electricity. Solar homes have two options for nighttime electricity in Arizona:
- Buy electricity from the grid
- Use solar batteries
A grid connection and/or solar battery storage give you access to electricity at night with solar panels so you can keep the power on around the clock.
Grid-Tied Homes Can Use the Electric Grid at Night
Unless you install an off-grid solar system, your solar panels will be connected to the electric grid in Arizona. This means you can use electricity from the grid whenever your solar panels are not meeting your energy needs. You will of course have to pay for the electricity you take from the grid—your electric meter will keep track of what you use and you’ll be billed monthly, the same way you would be if you didn’t have solar panels.
Net Billing Can Offset Your Electricity Costs
Net billing is a solar incentive system in Arizona that allows solar users to trade electricity with the grid. As a net billing participant, you’ll be able to send the excess electricity your solar panels generate during the day to the electric grid. In return, you’ll receive a credit on your account. You can use your credit to help pay for the electricity you buy from the grid when your solar panels are not producing energy. Net billing customers are unfortunately not credited at the retail rate of electricity, but at a lower Excess Electricity Generation Rate. Even with the lower rate, however, net billing can help you offset your electricity costs.
Solar Batteries Let You Use Solar Energy at Night
Solar panels may not work without sunlight, but solar battery storage has made it possible to use solar energy for power at night. Solar batteries work by storing the excess electricity your solar panels produce during the day. When the sun goes down, you can use your batteries for power.
If you want to go off-grid, you’ll need a large solar battery bank and a backup generator to ensure you have enough power at night. But for a grid-tied system, one or two batteries is usually enough. You won’t be able to run your entire home on stored solar power at night with just one or two batteries, but having some stored electricity will reduce the amount of power you have to buy from the grid.
And good news—solar batteries qualify for tax credits, including the 30% federal solar tax credit.
SouthFace Solar & Electric installs grid-tied and off-grid solar energy systems in Arizona, and we can help you find the right fit for your home or business. We have over 35 years of combined experience and have completed solar projects throughout the entire state. If you’re interested in going solar, we’re here to help. Check out our frequently asked questions to learn more about solar installation in Arizona!