How Do You Power Your House At Night If You Have Solar Power?


A frequent query we get is “Can solar panels generate electricity at night” which when we answer “no they do not” lead to further questions about how a home continues to run at night if a solar power system is installed.

As a solar homeowner, you will have two options to obtain electricity in the evening when your solar panels are no longer generating electricity.

Option 1- Pull Energy From The Electricity Grid

grid tie solar

Pulling energy from the electricity grid is the most common way to continue to run your household appliances at night. To be able to do this your solar power system needs to be grid-connected. Being grid-connected will mean your household will start pulling electricity from the grid anytime your solar panels are not generating enough energy. No manual action will be required for this to occur as the solar installer will set-up the solar power system so this is automatic.

Unfortunately, as you are relying on the electricity grid for this energy you will be charged the energy retailer rates for this night-time electricity.

solar black out protection

Option 2- Solar Battery Storage

As technology advances and prices decrease battery storage will become more common for solar homeowners. Having solar battery storage gives a solar power system the ability to store any excess energy it has generated during the day to use at night. Without solar battery storage, this excess energy is fed to the electricity grid.

If a household is completely off-grid they will require solar battery storage however grid-connected solar power systems have the ability to add battery storage if the solar homeowner would like to have less reliance on the grid without completely disconnecting.

How Does Solar Battery Storage Work?

When solar panels convert sunlight into electricity during the day this electricity is used to power a household. Any excess energy produced is then stored in the battery. When the sun goes down and the solar panels stop generating energy a household will then start using the stored electricity. If not enough energy is stored to power the house completely as a third source of electricity the house can pull energy from the grid.

Even without the addition of solar battery storage, solar homeowners can reduce electricity bills greatly, saving up to 80% on electricity per year. In anticipation of wanting a battery when prices come down in the future those interested in solar can install hybrid solar systems without battery which will give them the ability to add a battery in future.

Start speaking to solar installers about your options and request 3 free solar quotes today!


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Understanding Batteries

Off-Grid Systems

For some households a battery system can be of great benefit and minimise a home’s reliance on the grid. However, it’s important to understand for a battery to be useful your solar system needs to be generating excess energy for the battery to store, which you can then use at night or when the sun is not out.

When selecting a battery, you’ll want to invest in a system that is most suited to your home and can drive the best return on investment (ROI). Despite a larger upfront cost, a higher quality battery may significantly increase your ROI.

    Battery systems start from $6,000 and costs can vary greatly based on the following factors:

  1. Cycle Life-Time

    The number of times a battery can fully charge and discharge.

  2. Battery Power (kW)

    How fast it can be charged or discharged.

  3. Storage Capacity (kWh)

    The maximum amount of energy a battery system can store.

  4. Battery Management System (BMS)

    An electronic ‘smart’ system that gathers data and manages the battery ensuring it does not overload or operate outside of its safe functioning zone..

  5. Inverter

    Battery systems require their own inverter if your solar system does not have a hybrid inverter.

  6. 'All-In-One Unit’

    A system which includes the battery, BMS and an inverter all in one unit.

  7. Warranty

    Length of time or cycles the battery system is under guarantee.

  8. Blackout Protection/Backup

    It’s important to note this is not a common feature of a battery system and could cost thousands of dollars to include. Blackout protection not only requires additional components but also a specialised installation and rewiring. For grid-connected homes, the cost for blackout protection can outweigh the benefit.

Additionally, if your purpose for adding battery is to go Off-Grid and become completely independent from the grid you will need to ensure your solar system can generate enough energy to power your home and your battery system is large enough to store this energy. For homes in metro areas going Off-grid is not cost effective and is only recommended for those in remote areas with limited access to the grid. Off-grid solar systems with battery start at approximately $30,000.

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