This is just a short article to answer a couple common questions regarding solar generation when there’s no usage.
Firstly, what happens if a solar panel is in sunlight but not connected to anything? In a word, nothing. If the electrons have nowhere to flow, they simply return to their de-energised state. The energy is converted into heat and transmitted into the surroundings – just as sunlight does normally! Of course, solar panels are designed for this – it’s not going to do any damage.
Hot spots are a different matter – read my article on them here.
Secondly, what if the solar panels are connected to your home, but you’re not using any power? Don’t worry, the energy isn’t wasted. Instead, it’s fed back into the grid, and your energy retailer (e.g. Origin, AGL, etc) will pay you for it!
The less energy you use, the more you export, and the more you get paid. Also, the higher your feed-in-tariff (FIT), the more you get paid, so it’s worth shopping around energy retailers to find the best deal. Note, there are limits on how much you can export, depending on your location and your connection to the grid – for example, most residential houses in Australia are limited to 5kW export per phase.
The other alternative is to have a battery installed, so excess power can be stored for you to use later – even better, as your electricity bill will drop even further!