One of the most common questions among users interested in solar energy is whether it works at night or on cloudy days.
Does solar power work at night?
In full swing of solar energy, and renewable energies in general, it is necessary to clarify this question and explain how solar panels work when there is no light. Do you have doubts about it? Keep reading this article!
What happens to solar energy at night?
Solar energy is a type of energy that works by directly harnessing the sun’s electromagnetic radiation. To do this, solar panels are used that can be thermal or photovoltaic thanks to which heating or electricity is generated, respectively. As we said, solar energy takes advantage of the sun’s radiation, therefore, for solar panels to generate energy, there must be light. Thus, solar energy at night stops its production.
However, this does not mean that solar energy stops working at night —or that the investment in a solar installation stops being profitable for that reason—, since the self-consumption systems in a home, when it comes to isolated installations, include batteries in which the electricity that has been generated during the day can be stored —in the case of photovoltaic solar panels—.
These can be used for make use of solar energy without sun. Of course, it all depends on the capacity of the batteries, as well as the amount of energy that has been generated throughout the day. Keep in mind that batteries allow you to store all the energy surpluses that are not being used during the day.
What happens to solar energy on cloudy days?
As we said, for a solar panel to work it is necessary that it receives sunlight. In cases where the weather is not good, either because it is cloudy or because it is rainy, the solar panels do not stop working. These continue to generate electricity, however, the production capacity decreases compared to sunny days. In general, yield is usually 10% to 25% compared to typical performance. This varies depending on the technology used —whether they are monocrystalline or polycrystalline plates— and the thickness of the clouds. In fact, if there are few clouds and they are not very thick, it is possible that the solar panels work at a capacity of up to 60%.
Cold or hot temperatures What is the ideal temperature for the operation of a solar panel?
Despite what is believed, the solar panel will not always be more efficient the hotter it is. Although we have already seen that it is not possible to use solar energy without the sun, unless —of course— the sky is cloudy, we must bear in mind that the cold or the temperature have nothing to do with the use of the panel. solar, what influences is the radiation. In fact, when the solar panels exceed a temperature of 25ºC, the efficiency tends to decrease between 10% and 25%. This appears on the labeling of each solar panel. In general, the output power is 25º C —the standard power—. Thus, on foggy days or in cool climates it can work better than we think, sometimes better than on days with a lot of sun and very high temperatures.
The efficiency of solar panels
The efficiency of solar panels translates into the energy capacity that they are capable of transforming into electricity. That is, what percentage of the sunlight they receive can they take advantage of to transform it into electricity. Of course, the higher this is, the more efficient the solar panel will be and the greater the amount it generates (this is expressed in the form of kWh), and that is what interests us the most compared to savings. In general, solar panels use between 19% and 22% of the energy —the latter are the most efficient on the market today—. Although we have also found some records of solar panels that have an efficiency of 24%.
How to make the most of solar radiation
We have already discussed what happens to solar energy at night and to solar energy without the sun—such as on cloudy days. Now, not everything has to do with the time of day or the weather conditions when it comes to harnessing solar energy. Keep in mind, too, that other aspects have an influence, as you can read in this article. The use of solar energy depends largely on:
- The orientation of the roof: Depending on the orientation you can maximize the use of solar panels, making the most of solar radiation. You should always opt for the south orientation – whenever possible. Output will decrease when solar panels are facing east or west, but they should never be installed if facing north.
- Solar panel tilt: The inclination also influences the productivity of the solar panels, therefore, this must be adjusted depending on the season of the year; or opt for an intermediate point to keep it fixed throughout the year. In the first case, for the summer season, it will be necessary to opt for an inclination of 10º to 15º; while in the winter season you should opt for about 45º and 50º. In the second case, if you prefer to keep the solar panels fixed throughout the year, the most advisable thing is that they have an inclination of 30º to 40º.
Where to buy quality solar panels?
Solar Plak is one of the main online stores specializing in the sale of quality solar panels at a good price. In our online store you can find a large number of solar panel kits, as well as photovoltaic solar panels of all kinds and other elements of the installation, such as batteries – to make use of solar energy at night or use solar energy sunless—, charge controllers, inverters, and solar panel structures. We offer you the best value for money on the market.