Myth: People need electricity all the time, but solar only works while the sun is shining
The Fallacy Explained:
So what does a solar panel owner do when the sun isn’t shining? Simple! There are two basic options: (1) draw power from another source, probably via an electric grid, or (2) rely on batteries, super-capacitors, or some other form of energy storage.
Grid-tied doesn’t necessarily mean you are “dirty-powered.” The wind tends to blow, even when the sun isn’t shining, so clean, renewable energy can power your home even when the sun isn’t shining. Also, Germany found that adding wind and solar to its electric grid caused it to become more reliable, not less.
“That’s one of the advantages of having a grid-tied solar electric system,” Sunfarmers explains, “because any time your system runs into trouble and doesn’t produce the amount of electricity needed for a particular task, that’s where your utility comes in and makes up for your system’s shortfall. Unless you’ve got enough electricity credits banked with your utility company, you’ll be billed by your utility for electricity drawn from the grid at the then prevailing rates, but you’ll never be without power as long as the grid is available.”
Grid-tied solar systems also feed electricity back into the grid if your household is not using the electricity being produced by your solar system. Your account is then credited with the amount of electricity you supplied to the grid and will continue to credit your account as more electricity is fed into the grid.
There is another alternative for those who are not connected to the grid. This is where your backup battery bank or other storage system comes into play. According to Bloomberg, “To help smooth out the bumps in renewable supplies, manufacturers are developing a new generation of batteries that can store excess power for when the wind doesn’t blow or the sun doesn’t shine.”
During the daytime, your battery banks will store excess energy provided from the solar system. Sunfarmers concludes, “As long as you’ve got enough energy saved up in your batteries, you’ll continue to be able to run your appliances without missing a beat. Many people living with an off-grid solar electric system also have a generator as an added backup for your battery bank, just in case that runs out of power.”