how do solar panels work at night

How Do Solar Panels Work at Night?

You may be wondering how solar panels can work at night or on cloudy days. After all, the sun is what provides the energy to power the solar panels, so how do they work when there is no sunlight? 

The answer lies in the way that solar panels are designed. Solar panels are made up of photovoltaic cells, which are also called PV cells. These cells are what convert sunlight into electricity. Each PV cell is made up of two thin layers of semiconductor material, and when sunlight hits these PV cells, an electrical field is created. The electrical field causes electrons to flow, and this flow of electrons creates direct current (DC) electricity. 

How Solar Panels Work

Solar panels are made up of photovoltaic cells, also called PV cells. PV cells are made up of semiconductor materials like silicone. When sunlight hits the PV cells, the photons knock electrons loose from their atoms. These loose electrons flow through the PV cell and into an electrical circuit, where they are used to power your home or business. 

Types of Solar Panels

There are two main types of solar panels: monocrystalline and polycrystalline. Monocrystalline solar panels are made up of silicon that has been purified into a single crystal. They are more efficient than polycrystalline solar panels, but they are also more expensive. Polycrystalline solar panels are made up of silicon that has been melted and formed into ingots. They are less efficient than monocrystalline solar panels but they are also less expensive. 

How Solar Panels Store Energy for Nighttime Use 

Solar panels generate electricity during daylight hours when the sun’s rays are strongest. However, most people use more electricity at night than they do during the day. So how do solar panels provide power after dark? 

The key is batteries. Solar batteries are made up of many interconnected cells that store direct current (DC) electricity generated by solar panels during daylight hours. Homeowners with battery backup systems can even store enough electricity to power their homes for several days in case of a grid outage! When nighttime comes, or if there’s a power outage, homeowners can access stored solar energy by flipping a switch or activating a backup generator connected to their solar battery system. 

Homeowners who don’t have batteries can still use solar energy at night by “net metering” with their utility company. Net metering allows you to “sell” your utility company extra solar electricity generated during daytime hours and carried back to the grid on its wires. Your utility company then gives you a bill credit for that solar power which you can “cash in” and draw upon at night or any other time your solar system isn’t generating enough power to meet your needs. 

How Is Electricity Get Stored?

On bright sunny days, the PV cells in solar panels produce more electricity than homes and businesses need. This extra electricity is sent to the power grid, where it can be used by other people who don’t have solar panels. 

At night or on cloudy days when there isn’t enough sunlight to produce electricity, homes and businesses with solar panel systems can use the extra electricity that was sent to the power grid during sunny days. This extra electricity is stored in batteries that are connected to the solar panel system. When there isn’t enough sunlight to produce electricity, the batteries will provide power to the home or business using DC electricity.

AC Electricity vs DC Electricity 

Most homes and businesses use alternating current (AC) electricity, but solar panel systems produce direct current (DC) electricity. AC electricity is produced by spinning turbines in power plants, while DC electricity is produced by PV cells in solar panels. For homes and businesses to use DC electricity from solar panel systems, it must first be converted into AC electricity using a device called an inverter.  


Solar panel systems are a great way to reduce your dependence on fossil fuels and save money on your monthly electric bill. Not only do solar panel systems help you save money, but they also provide you with a backup source of power in case of a power outage. And now that you know how solar panels work at night, you can rest assured knowing that your home or business will still have power even when the sun isn’t shining.