Are you considering going solar? Wondering whether solar will work in winter when the nippy spell sets in?
The short answer is Yes, solar does actually work well in winter! It’s because solar systems work by absorbing light (not heat) from the sun to convert it to electrical energy. So all solar systems including solar panels will continue to fuel your home as long as they are getting light irrespective of the temperature.
On the contrary, to the common misconception, the cold temperature can actually perk up solar panel output as the reflection of sunlight on the white snow can improve PV performance. Also, like most electronics products, solar panels function more efficiently in cold conditions than in hot. This actually results in the generation of more power for each hour of sunshine during the short winter days.
Winter will only hurt solar production if the panels are completely covered with snow.
How Does Snow Affect The Solar Panels?
If snow covers your solar panels completely, they can’t produce electricity. To handle this problem most solar panels that are installed on the rooftop are tilted at a certain angle to attract sunlight, and naturally, melt the snow due to the heat they attract from the sun. As a result, snow can slide off on its own.
However, the sliding off the snow on its own can take some time. To take control of the situation you can get a solar panel snow rake like this one to remove the snow without doing any damage to the panels.
Another major concern people have is about the weight of the snow on the panels and whether they can withstand it.
You should be aware that all solar panels are made to undergo pressure tests to evaluate their durability and quality. Higher pressure ratings indicate that the panels are better at withstanding the weight of heavy snow. So in localities where there are heavy snowfall, it makes sense to install solar panels with higher pressure ratings than those which gets lighter snowfall.
In general, sun’s heat, wind, and the tilt of solar panels are good enough to eventually remove snow on its own. A study was done by the Northern Alberta Institute of Technology, actually has shown that solar panels from which snow was removed, experienced only 1% to 5% more production than ones left with snow cover, during a 3 year period. So it’s not that a big deal.
Need further proof regarding whether solar panel works well in Cold Climates or During Winter?
Consider Germany, which gets similar sunshine as that of Alaska. For over a decade, this northern European country like Germany has been leading the world in solar panel installations.
In fact, Germany is a perfect example of how solar can work in winter weather across the globe.
If you are you’re a homeowner considering solar, winter is the best time to shop for solar as it’s the slow season for solar and you get the best deals in winter as many people have the misconception that solar panel does not produce electricity in winter.