Yes, solar power still works when the sun isn’t out — and 4 more solar facts that might surprise you about this unlimited energy source.
1. Solar panels still work when it’s cloudy
Solar panels use direct or indirect sunlight to generate power, though they are most effective in direct sunlight. Solar panels will still work even when the light is reflected or partially blocked by clouds.
The energy produced can also be fed to an electric grid. Most homes are already connected to the grid, and some LDCs will pay you for any excess energy supplied by your solar panels.
2. Solar power has become more affordable
Solar power is cheaper to process and requires much less effort to produce. It also is one of the cheapest sources of energy per kilowatt-hour, beating out coal, nuclear, and natural gas. The cost of a solar energy system is approximately 100 times cheaper today than it was in the 1970s, and this trend of decreasing costs shows no sign of slowing.
In fact, in 2016, solar officially became cheaper than traditional, carbon-based fuel sources in several countries. Now, the average solar panel installation costs less than half of that cost, even with no credits or incentives. Each year, it’s becoming more affordable to install solar panels.
3. Solar is the fastest energy source to deploy
When disaster strikes, no electricity source can be built or repaired as quickly as solar — as the situation in Puerto Rico following the massive destruction caused by hurricanes. Solar companies were able to build small solar power plants with energy storage capabilities on the island in a matter of weeks.
No fossil-fuel power plant, nor any other renewable energy facility, could have been brought online so quickly.
4. Solar power can be stored for later use
When homeowners install battery storage as part of your solar panel system, they are able to store excess electricity at home instead of sending it back to the grid. If the solar panels are producing more electricity than needed, the excess energy goes towards charging the battery.
Later, when the solar panels aren’t producing electricity, they can draw down the energy stored earlier in the battery for night use. They’ll only send electricity back to the grid when the battery is fully charged, and only draw electricity from the grid when your battery is depleted.
5. Solar panels are built to last
As a general solar industry rule of thumb, solar panels last about 25-30 years. However, this doesn’t mean that they stop producing electricity after 25 years – it just means that energy production has declined by what manufacturers consider to be a significant amount.
Solar panels can continue to work for many decades, given they aren’t physically damaged by wind, debris, or any other external factors. This is primarily because solar panels don’t have any moving parts – they rarely break from within and are usually only damaged by outside forces like a poor racking setup or inclement weather.
So, which of these facts surprised you the most?