The solar energy can be a reliable source of the energy during the night also but in the buffer form. We will try to answer this question in two ways.
Do solar panels work during the night?
The solar panels convert solar energy into the electrical energy during the day when the sunlight is available. During the night when there is no sunlight, the solar panels do not work. The simple answer is NO; the solar panels do not work during the night.
Use the solar batteries as the buffer
But there is the way to make the solar array work in nights by storing the energy in some form and then utilize it during the night, providing electricity for running the electrical appliances. This can be accomplished by using solar batteries, storing the energy in the form of the chemical energy. The solar panels absorb the solar energy and convert it in the D.C. (direct current) power and this power is used to charge the batteries and the energy is stored in them in the form of the chemical energy. When there is no sunlight in the night the chemical energy from the batteries is converted into the DC current and is fed to the inverter to convert it into A.C. power which runs our electrical appliances.
The net metering buffer system
The other way to get the energy for your house during the night is through net – metering system. If any of you wondering the functioning of the net-metering then read my article,”Net metering: An important feature of a grid- tied solar PV system“, it will explain the basic concepts about the net metering.
In simple words, in net metering, the dual meter is connected in between the grid and your home in addition to the array of the solar panels. The extra energy your solar panels produce during the day is directly fed into the grid. The utility company then credits you with the electricity points in return and which are added to your monthly electricity bill and thus reducing it. It means that your solar power system is producing money in addition to the solar electricity.
The grid connection also ensures that your home has the power even during the night, rainy days and the cloudy weather. It’s true that your panels might produce the extra solar electricity during the day which you fed to the grid but it cannot produce the electricity during the night. Here you bank upon the extra units that you fed to the grid during the daytime. In one way, you can say that those extra units you produce during the day cover the shortage of the electricity during the night and bad weather conditions. In another way, the grid is serving as the source of the storage.
Since, the net metering is not available to all the states in India, one should look for the other storage devices during the night and the batteries can serve as the best energy storage devices for the night use.
You should contact and ask the nearest solar installer to tell you the specification based on your energy requirement. But before going ahead, you should use the solar feasibility spreadsheet which will give you insight on the various technical and the financial aspects of the feasibility of the residential solar power in your area.
Do solar panels work in the cloudy weather?
Their efficiency reduces to the large extent in the cloudy weather somewhere near to the 20% of their normal working efficiency. The solar panels can work from the light reflected from the clouds and the rain actually helps in washing the dust accumulated on the surface of the panels. However, the cloudy and the rainy weather locations are still popular sites for the solar installations where the cost of the electricity is higher and are having the high electricity rates.
The array of solar panels will not produce the electricity during the night and their efficiency reduces to the great extent in the rainy and the cloudy weather. You need to plan the solar installation taking into considerations the following points: