If you have been wondering if solar panels work during the nighttime, you are certainly not the only person. If you own a series of solar panels, or have interest in buying some, it is important to realize how solar paneling can be an abundant source of power during the night, even when there is not any sunlight available.

Solar power systems need sunlight in order to create electricity to power your home, so of course they do not work in darkness, so the straightforward answer is that they do not work during nighttime. The confusion surrounding solar energy working at night is often in part due to the idea of solar storage, which allows solar systems to still contain electricity for generation created from the daytime.

The main purpose of solar energy is to collect sunlight, AKA photovoltaic energy, and convert it into direct current (DC) power. Direct current power travels through the solar system’s solar inverter so it gets converted into alternating current (AC) power. AC power is the kind of power used by most households for electricity. From there, your solar power system can provide electricity to your home. If by chance that it produces more power than what your home needs, then the rest of the electricity returns to the electric grid to be stored until your home needs more energy.

Because solar panels only create power during the day, your next question might be “how do solar panels provide energy when it is dark out there?” There are two answers to that question. When solar panel energy production is inactive, your solar system can still access electricity by means of net metering and “solar plus storage” technology. So while your solar system cannot create energy at nighttime, it can still use energy that is available to it.

Net metering is one of the biggest reasons why solar systems end up being sound investments for homeowners. You connection will make sure that you still have power regardless of any changes in seasonal daylight. Your solar panels could produce more energy than necessary in the daytime, especially during the summer. As stated previously, they will not produce energy at night, but net metering credits can be spent when you send extra energy back to your grid. With that being said, the grid itself is like an energy bank.

Before the introduction of grid tied inverters that allow net metering to be a thing today, all solar power systems used to be off grid systems. Homeowners had to generate all their energy by themselves, and store extra energy with the help of standalone battery units. 10 to 20 years ago, solar storage alternatives were expensive, and this made solar energy a considered luxury rather than a utility for renewable energy.

Today, batteries are not only one of the cheapest alternatives for energy storage, but one of the very best. If you have high power usage, or your system doesn’t have net metering, ask a professional solar installer about adding a battery to your new or current solar system.

The next thing for you to do is to find out exactly what a solar system will cost you and compare prices of other installations around your neighborhood. Rest assured though, the only serious expense of solar energy is the upfront cost, as solar systems have greatly become more affordable in the past few decades. In case you have not heard about solar energy’s great benefits, receiving energy from sunlight will allow you to save a lot of money on your electric bills indefinitely.