Many people think that solar panels only work when the sun is out. This is also why many people don’t even look into Idaho solar companies—they just don’t think it will be worth it.

However, solar panels work both in the winter and at night, too. Here’s a quick overview of how solar panels work and how they can still generate electricity even when the sun isn’t shining.

How Solar Panels Work

solar panel battery storage for renewable energy

Solar panels are made up of photovoltaic cells, which are also called PV cells. PV cells are made of semiconductor materials like silicon. When sunlight hits the PV cells, it knocks electrons loose from the atoms in the silicon. The free electrons flow through the PV cell to create an electric current. This current can be used to power electrical devices or it can be stored in batteries for later use. 

How Solar Panels Work at Night

stanford university producing electricity per square foot to generate more power

Solar panels can still generate electricity under the night sky because they don’t need direct sunlight to work. This is because your solar panel system stores energy in batteries during the daytime, and then uses that stored electricity to power your home at night.

Solar Batteries

Solar batteries are specifically designed to store energy so it can be used later. On a typical day, your solar panels will generate more electricity than your home needs, so that excess electricity is sent to the batteries for storage. Then, at night or during a power outage, your solar batteries will release that stored energy back into your home, keeping the lights on and your appliances running.

How Solar Batteries Work

Solar batteries work by using a process called “electrochemical conversion” to store energy in the form of chemical energy. During this process, electrons are transferred between two electrodes (a positive and a negative) immersed in an electrolyte solution. This creates an electrical potential difference between the electrodes, which can then be used to power electrical devices.

Solar batteries typically use one of two types of electrolyte solutions: lead acid or lithium ion. Lead acid batteries are the most common type of solar battery, and are typically used in home solar systems. Lithium ion batteries are newer and more expensive, but have a higher energy density and are often used in commercial solar systems.

Solar batteries can be used to store energy generated by solar panels during the daytime, and then release that energy at night or during periods of low solar output. This allows solar systems to generate electricity even when the sun isn’t shining, and can help to offset the higher costs of electricity during peak periods.

Net Metering To Keep You Connected At Night

solar panels produce solar energy via thermoelectric generator

Utility companies offer a billing arrangement called “net metering” to solar customers with batteries. This allows you to send any extra electricity your solar system generates back to the utility grid during the daytime, and then “draw” from the grid at night or during periods of low solar output.

The amount of electricity you send to the grid is subtracted from the amount you draw, and you only pay for the “net” difference. This arrangement can effectively make your nighttime electricity free.


solar cells able to generate solar power output day and night and in cloudy weather

Solar panels are a great way to generate electricity because they don’t produce emissions and they can work even when the sun isn’t out.

If you’re considering using solar panels for your home (or business), keep in mind that they will generate less electricity at night than during the day. However, any electricity generated at night can be stored in batteries for later use, and can be pulled from the grid for free when you take advantage of net metering.

With proper planning, solar panels can provide all the electricity you need, day or night.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *