Solar roofs are one of our specialties at EVSOL Energy. As a responsible and environmentally focused electrical engineering firm, we’ve got our finger on the pulse of innovation into clean and sustainable energy. You may have read our previous blog articles on solar roofs, their advantages and why you should consider them. You’ve probably even seen our list of solar gadgets with which you can dip your toe into the world of electricity via sunshine before taking the plunge into the rooftop solar pool.
However, you might be facing some questions or doubts over these. Let us dispel some of the most common questions, doubts, and misconceptions in this article. Remember, we’re just a call away, and we’d be glad to visit your property, conduct a comprehensive audit and propose a sustainable, cost-efficient, and long-term oriented solution. Think EVSOL Energy for your solar needs. In the meantime, let’s get into it.
Do Solar Panels Work on Cloudy Days?
Surprise, yes, they do! Whilst their efficiency may be significantly lower than on a sunny day, the amount of sunlight reaching a solar panel on a cloudy day is still fairly substantial. The sun is a powerful source of energy that can cut through most clouds. Of course, if it’s a heavily clouded day, your panels might generate just 25% or even 10% of their capability on a fully bright and sunny day. Still, it’s something, isn’t it?
The amazing ability of solar panels to convert sunlight into electricity is called the photovoltaic effect. Without going too technical, the panels contain semiconductors that, when excited by light, result in a flow of electrons. Voila, electricity flows!
How do you know if a day is too cloudy for your solar panels to generate sufficient electricity? Checking the main control panel for your rooftop solar system is one way, as these typically have an LCD display that shows a myriad of information including how much electricity was generated for the day, month and lifetime, as well as the instantaneous generation. Some solutions even allow you to access this information from the palm of your hand via a mobile app.
Another way is to peep outside and look at a solar outdoor light or streetlight. As these devices activate when there isn’t ample sunshine to provide charge to their batteries, if these are illuminated, chances are your solar panels are producing very little to no electricity. Don’t sweat it, you can’t control the clouds. Instead, there are ways to store the solar-generated electricity, which we talk about later in this article.
Do Solar Panels Work at Night?
The short and long answer is, no they don’t. You might counter by saying that there’s a very bright streetlamp outside that makes it almost like day, so why isn’t the light from it sufficient? Dear reader, sunlight on a cloudy day is much stronger than the strongest streetlights. Our eyes simply adjust.
What about moonlight? Once again, the light from the moon is simply too weak to activate any solar panel, even the tiniest ones on a garden light or pocket calculator. However, don’t sweat it out, as you can still store energy generated during the sunniest days for later use. How so? Read on…
Storing Excess Electrical Power
Rooftop solar systems are typically designed and specified to generate more energy during the day than the building (usually a residential dwelling) utilizes. You might think this sounds wasteful, but it’s not, because you’re simply storing the excess energy in one way or another. It’s no different to saving your excess money, rather than simply not taking it. If your employer was paying you $10,000 per month but you only use $6,000, would you return it or save it? Same with solar.
There are two major ways to store solar energy. The most common is the net metering system where you maintain your connection to the national grid, except you are now an electricity producer as well as consumer. When your solar panels are generating excess energy during sunny days, this is sent back into the grid to be used elsewhere. Your utility company gives you credits for these. During the night, you simply use up these credits. Sometimes, you may even turn a small profit!
The second way is via a solar battery, which is a battery-based storage system that you install on your property. Excess energy is stored in the battery, and your solar inverter converts it back into household AC power for use when the solar panels are producing insufficient or no electricity. Companies such as Tesla have started pioneering this system, and the cost of the batteries is predicted to rapidly decline as the technology comes of age. It might interest you to know that research is also being done into using old EV batteries that still have at least 50% capacity remaining for this purpose. This is being trialled in Japan, for railway signalling equipment.
Talk to Us if You're Interested in Solar Solutions
Have we enticed you towards the rooftop solar route? There are no major disadvantages to it, actually. Rooftop solar is a fantastic medium to power our homes, cater to our increasingly power-hungry lifestyles, keep our devices charged, our electric cars running, and our homes temperature controlled. We at EVSOL Energy have extensive experience with installing rooftop solar systems, so why not give us a call? We’d be glad to come to your location, conduct an audit, understand your current and future requirements, and provide you with a very competitive quote. Our quotes are clearly broken down into materials and labour, and we also provide a lifetime guarantee on our labour.
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Reach out to our team at EVSOL Energy today to get started.