It’s normal to wonder if solar panels are the appropriate choice for your house. Many households considering going solar question if solar panels would function in the winter or on overcast days. The excellent news is that they most certainly do.
While solar panels derive their energy from the sun, this does not mean they are only effective on sunny afternoons or lengthy summer days. They may take use of the sun’s natural energy throughout the year – even on overcast mornings and brief winter days.
Contrary to common perception, winter temperatures do not drop because the Earth is further from the sun. Indeed, in July, Earth is the farthest from the sun, while in January, it is the closest. What does this mean for your solar panels as the temperatures begin to fall? Continue reading as we address all of your concerns regarding how a solar panel installation operates in the winter.
How do solar panels generate electricity?
Each solar panel is composed of solar PV cells (or solar photovoltaic cells) that generate electricity from daylight, rather than from sunlight or heat, and are constructed of semi-conducting materials, most frequently silicon. When light strikes them, it causes particles called electrons to travel, resulting in the generation of electricity1. That is, solar photovoltaic panels will create power during the day but not at night (but this is not a problem if you have a battery, so continue reading).
Because solar photovoltaic cells are light-sensitive, greater sunshine typically results in more power. Solar panels get the most light during midday, when the sun is at its highest point in the sky, and on a clear sunny day, when the light is the brightest. However, even the dim light of a dreary winter afternoon generates enough energy to generate power.
Do solar panels work in cloudy weather?
Modern solar panels perform quite well in overcast weather, despite the fact that the light is less intense on gloomy days. That makes logic — the sun does not suddenly cease to function due to a small amount of overcast.
And, strangely, rain may actually improve the performance of solar panels by washing away any dust or grime that may be obstructing light.
Do solar panels work in winter?
If you’ve ever wondered, “Will solar panels function in cold areas throughout the winter?” You are not alone in this. Although it is a widely believed idea that solar panels do not operate during the winter season, this is not true. Solar panels operate just as well in the winter as they do in the summer, as long as they are not buried in snow for a lengthy period of time.
While heavy snowfall may restrict sunlight penetration, solar panels will generate more power than you believe over the winter.
On premium solar panels, the silicon is protected by anti-reflective glass that is meant to collect the maximum amount of sunlight (and hence generate more power! ), which means solar panels generate more heat from the sun than your roof surface. This heat melts snow more quickly than it does on your roof, allowing your solar system to continue producing energy even while there is still heavy snow on the ground.
In many cold-weather areas, winter precipitation is really rather little. For example, between November and March, Denver, Colorado receives an average of two to three days of snowfall more than 0.1 inch every month. That snow melts quickly, especially on solar panels!
Additionally, solar panels are built to withstand between 20 and 40 pounds of weight per square foot, so snow is rarely a threat. Throughout the production process, all solar panels are subjected to pressure testing to ensure their quality and endurance. Additionally, because ratings vary by panel, you can choose for greater pressure ratings if you reside in a snowy location.
Do solar panels need winter maintenance?
Solar panels have the advantage of being essentially maintenance-free for the bulk of the year, even the winter.
If you reside in a region prone to severe winter storms — think polar vortex level — you may want to contact a professional to remove any wet, heavy snow from your roof if you’re concerned about roof safety. Freedom Solar does take further safety precautions by adding snow barriers in places prone to snow build-up and damage.
Solar battery storage is extremely critical to consider, both during the winter and throughout the year, since it enables you to store energy independent of your daily production. It works by collecting all of the power generated by your solar panels and storing it in your home, rather than sending it back to the grid. As a consequence, you may use that stored energy during times when you require more electricity than your panels can generate – for example, at night or on cloudy days.
How effective are solar panels in winter?
When it comes to solar energy, one critical point to understand is that it is not about heat; it is about sunshine. Indeed, the difference in solar energy output between summer and winter may surprise you. In fact, cold, bright weather is a perfect time to generate electricity for your house, as solar panels operate more efficiently at colder temperatures. Indeed, while the industry-standard standards for photovoltaic systems are made at 77oF, they have been found to be even more efficient at lower temperatures.
Consider this: two of the most solar-friendly cities in the United States — Burlington, Vermont, and Indianapolis, Indiana — are located in northern states. Are you still undecided? Germany, which receives equal amounts of sunlight as Alaska, is a global leader in solar panel installations, accounting for an amazing 12.74 percent of total national energy.
Even in the worst winter conditions, when the sun shines, solar panels will generate enough electricity to help you become more self-sufficient by generating your own power at home.
How much power can a solar PV system produce?
The amount of energy generated by a solar photovoltaic system is dependent on a variety of parameters, including the size, angle, and direction of your roof, as well as seasonal weather trends in your area. Similarly, power use varies every home.
A 12-panel solar system could generate enough electricity in a year to power a Tesla Model 3 for 17,660 miles of driving3, run an A++ dishwasher for 4,465 loads, or save you over $534 on your annual electricity bills.
A professional solar installation can advise you on the best system for your house depending on your individual power usage habits and the style of your home.
Most homes consume more energy during the winter months when there are fewer daylight hours, which results in solar panels producing less electricity. A simple solution to this problem is to supplement your solar panels with a solar battery system. You may upgrade your battery even if you already have solar panels.
This enables you to store excess electricity for later use, such as powering your home after dark or charging an electric vehicle overnight for your daily commute.