When it comes to solar power, there’s a lot to love. Simply place a solar panel array outside on a bright day and watch it effortlessly begin to convert the sun’s rays into clean, abundant energy that frees you from the tyranny of the grid. Have something a little less daunting than total self-reliance in mind? Even a single solar panel can give you a little independence.
But, as with most things in life, there’s a catch. Solar panels need an uninterrupted supply of sunlight to make their magic happen. Obscure the sun and you will quickly see three distinct disadvantages of relying on solely upon solar power.
1. Solar Panels Don’t Work at Night
In the absence of sunlight, solar panels simply do not produce electricity. Despite their capacity to generate inexpensive, environmentally-friendly electricity, solar panels always come up against the reality that most of us spend about half of each day in the dark. Worse, the evening hours are often when we need electricity the most.
2. Solar Panels Are Sensitive to Overcast Skies
Of course, evening is not the only time things can get dark outside. When the sky is overcast, solar panels lose a great deal of their efficiency. While a system might be capable of generating 100W of power, it needs the proper amount of sunlight to reach that level of output. So an overcast day can quite easily disrupt your solar panel’s ability to generate the power you need to get things done.
3. Solar Panel Output Can Change Moment By Moment
With moving clouds and changing weather conditions, the amount of sunlight that can reach a solar panel at any given moment is in a state of constant flux. The result is a stream of electricity that is not generated at a steady level. If you were to graph your solar panel’s output, you would likely see a series of peaks and troughs. This uneven power can wreak havoc with sensitive electronics and seriously degrade the operation of many devices.
These disadvantages are certainly significant. Indeed, left solely on its own, solar power simply would have limited practical applications. Fortunately, there is an easy solution: combine a solar panel with a battery pack. In this instance, the battery simply stores the potential energy generated by the solar panel when conditions are optimal and releases it in a steady manner when it is needed. With this one move, the benefits of solar power can be yours without the difficulties you might normally encounter whenever the weather goes bad—or when the moon comes out.