Pre-Qualify in 30 seconds 🔥
Fact Checked

Do Solar Panels Work At Night?

You’re thinking about solar panel installation, but you’re not sure what happens when the sun goes down. Here’s the lowdown if you’re wondering - do solar panels work at night?
Solar Panels
5 minutes
Written by:
Joey Cheek
Updated on:
December 8, 2022

Here at SmartSolar.org, we get this question a lot. You’re thinking about solar panel installation, but you’re not sure what happens when the sun goes down. Do solar panels work at night? How will you keep electricity access if no solar radiation comes into your home? Here’s the good news. A solar panel system can provide you with enough solar energy to meet your needs 24 hours a day. Still, solar panels themselves do not absorb solar energy during the evening hours.

At SmartSolar.org, we want to make solar power accessible to everyone, and to do that, we want to give you the insight you need. Before we get into the details, here’s what you need to know about solar panel installation.

Will Solar Panels Work at Night?

Solar energy systems operate during the daylight hours. There are no solar energy systems available that can pull in solar radiation energy without the presence of the sun. That means solar panels cannot work if they do not have solar radiation available. Now, that does not mean you cannot use the solar energy generated during the day to keep your home functional at night.

Consider how solar panels work to generate electricity

Solar panels can harness the sun’s power, which comes from solar radiation. It can take that solar energy and turn it into electricity which can then be used to power your home. This can be done using solar panels that have photovoltaic cells on them. When the sun shines on the solar panel, it causes the photons present to be absorbed into the solar panel cells. When this happens, it creates an electric field. This field, which looks like a big grid, can allow electricity to flow, according to Energy.gov.

Not all of the power generated by a solar power system is needed at that moment. That is why there needs to be a solar storage solution, sometimes called energy storage. This is often done in the form of batteries that hold onto and store that solar energy until it is needed. When installing solar panels, most property owners want a solar system with batteries to provide solar storage solutions.

Because of this, excess power generated by the solar panels is then stored in the batteries. Battery storage is very effective and easy to use, but it also provides a viable way to continue to allow your electricity to work at night.

Solar system owners will not notice a break in this functionality. For example, solar technology automatically puts excess power into the solar battery. Then, that solar battery storage is there when the solar panels are no longer generating power on their own. They continue to produce electricity when any component in your home pulls from it, just like you are likely doing with traditional types of electricity.

Will Solar Panels Power My House at Night?

With battery storage, the solar cells on a solar panel system will store enough solar power to keep your home powered at night. That means that once solar installations and a solar battery are in place, you can continue to use your home like you always have. You can expect normal power output from solar batteries, too.

Although generating power does not happen during the evening hours, solar panels can store excess energy in solar batteries for when it is needed, such as when no sunlight is available. These panels work as long as there’s solar radiation stored within them and turn off when there is not.

Installing solar panels to generate power is essential to eliminate electricity bills and get off the utility grid. Yet, the stored energy is a big part of this process.

Are There Any Solar Panels That Work at Night?

Some organizations are working on producing solar panels that work at night. Researchers at Stanford are working to develop a way to do just that. They have modified a solar panel system to generate electricity at night when there is no solar radiation. To do this, it is exploiting a technology called radiative cooling. This new and innovative type of energy generation takes advantage of the vacuum of space. They found that the coldness of space itself could be a type of renewable energy resource.

While this may be something researchers are working on, it is not available today for use. In many ways, then, there are no types of solar panels that actually capture the sun’s rays during the evening hours nor convert solar power into electricity without the sun.

Joey Cheek

Do Solar Panels Still Work on Cloudy Days?

Solar panel performance depends on how accessible direct sunlight is. That means that on days that are cloudy, solar customers can expect solar systems to continue producing energy, but they will not generate power that is the same as when there is direct sunlight. 

This is when solar energy storage becomes a valuable investment. More so, many people are still linked to the electric grid. That means that when solar systems are not producing electricity efficiently to meet your needs, it is still possible to keep power going to the home.

Power generation ranges widely for many reasons, including due to indirect light access. For many people, though, the better the solar panel system is selected, the more energy is created, and the less demand there is for turning to the electric grid to help keep power going.

You Can Get the Help You Need with Solar Energy

Our solar advisors can help you to determine how much energy your solar panel system can generate and what your battery storage needs are. To learn more about solar energy storage and installation, take our SmartSolar.org quiz. Then, give us a call to get the process started.

Meet the author:

Joey Cheek

Joey Cheek spent 10 years on the US National Speedskating Team where he competed in two Olympic Games, winning gold, silver, and bronze medals. He attended Princeton before diving into the startup and tech world. In 2011 he launched a livestreaming platform for sports before leading a team of engineers building next-gen news and content apps for Fortune 100 companies. He is the CEO and co-founder of SmartSolar.org, whose mission is to move the earth to cheap, abundant, carbon-free energy.

Subscribe to our newsletter to stay up to date with the latest solar and environmental information:
Thank you! Your submission has been received!
Oops! Something went wrong while submitting the form.
Thank you! Your submission has been received!
Oops! Something went wrong while submitting the form.