No one questions that solar panels are a fantastic energy solution during the summer. Long, sunny days translate to loads of consistent power. However, do solar panels work in winter? Can you really generate significant power from the sun in wintertime?
It may surprise you, but the answer is yes. However, winter solar panel production does differ from the summer. Here’s what you need to know about going solar in the winter.
Solar panel productivity in winter
Three things affect solar panel productivity: temperature, cleanliness of the panels, and the amount of available light. Let’s look at how winter conditions affect these factors.
Temperature: Believe it or not, solar panels work better in the cold. Heat tends to increase electrical resistance, so the colder your panels are, the more efficiently they will operate.
Light availability: Here is where your solar panels operate at a major disadvantage in winter. There are fewer daylight hours on a winter day than in the summer. The angle of the sun is also much steeper in the winter, which is less favorable for the typical installation.
Panel cleanliness: Anything that obstructs your panels will affect its efficiency. This includes dust, dirt and snow. We usually think of snow as clean, but if snow and ice build up on your panels they can shut down your power production. However this is not usually a problem, since snow generally slides off them quickly (especially with south-facing panels).
One last thing to note is that temperature swings can cause panel components to expand and contract. This is a major cause of damage to cheap, poorly made panels and can severely shorten the life expectancy of a panel. That is one reason we install only highly durable, reliable American-made solar panels that are engineered to withstand tough conditions.
Maintaining solar panels for optimal winter production
The beauty of solar panels is that under normal conditions they require almost no maintenance. However to reap the full advantages of solar energy, there are two things you can do to improve panel efficiency during winter.
The first is to adjust the angle of your panels 15 degrees to take advantage of the lower winter sun angle. This requires a special, adjustable rack. Most people don’t consider the hassle of adjusting panels twice a year to be worth it, but if you are determined to get the best possible return on your solar investment, it is an option.
The second is to be vigilant about removing any accumulated snow or ice. You will probably be surprised at how fast snow tends to melt off panels after a snowstorm without having to lift a finger. Though if you do notice a persistent accumulation, and your panels are safely accessible, you can remove it with a push broom or a windshield ice scraper. Don’t put yourself at risk, though. The little extra power you gain is not worth an injury from falling off the roof. This activity is best reserved for ground-mounted panels.
Solar power: an annualized advantage
As you can see, winter conditions affect solar panels. However, properly installed panels will still provide significant power in the winter. Whether you’re connected to the grid or are using batteries — or a combination of both — your backup storage will ensure that a few cloudy winter days don’t put a dent in your lifestyle. Plus, over the course of the year, your panels will add up to significant savings!
Ready to step up to solar? Now is a great time to start planning your system. Call [company_phone] or contact us online for a free solar evaluation, today!