Do solar panels work at night?

Solar panels at night

This may seem like an obvious question, for some, however it is a question we have heard from solar customers;

“Do solar panels work at night?”

The answer is no.

We have received enquiries from customers who have been missold information from other solar installers, where they have claimed to be able to install solar energy systems that work at night. ie. their solar panels can be charged by moonlight.

This is simply not true. Solar panels cannot be charged by moonlight as the technology inside solar panels requires photons of sunlight on the photovoltaic cells.

This means that unfortunately, solar energy systems with solar PV alone cannot supply energy for a 24 hour period. In fact, the most (solar-energy) productive time of the day in NSW and Victoria is 11:30-3:30. This is an average over the span of a year, so is applicable to summer and winter, although in summer you will have more productive hours and less in winter.


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Below is an example of an Energy Makeovers’ customer’s energy supply breakdown from a 24 hour period. This information is supplied by the system’s inverter. You can see the arrows in the graph indicating where the energy generation plummets and is not generated at all through the hours of 6 pm to 7 am.

daily solar energy supplyIn fact here’s some additional information about productive hours based on the direction your panels can face:

North facing – 4.7 hours average – north facing homes are the most ideal for supplying energy in the middle of the day. If you have a battery, or you’re home during the middle of the day then this is an ideal scenario for solar.

West facing – 4.3 hours average – west facing is more beneficial for homeowners who aren’t home during the middle of the day as the roof will see more sunlight at the end of the day. If you come home from work and whack your air con on and start cooking for the kids, then this would suit your lifestyle the most.

And, if your roof has the option of north and west facing areas, then a split panel system across both roofs would be even better.

Summary: No, a solar energy system does not work at night. The solar PV cannot be charged by moonlight and if energy supply to your property overnight via solar energy is a priority for you then you’ll need to invest in a solar battery, which is something we can help you with.


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