Winter is coming... in some places much sooner than others. Montana has already had some snow, and we are hardly into October. If you are considering getting a solar panel installation, and you live in an area that gets a lot of snow you might be wondering if solar panels and snow can go together. If you are looking to invest in a solar-powered system, you are going to want to know if it is going to provide solar power all year long.
It’s a common myth that solar panels aren’t going to work in the winter, but, the cold temperatures are going to typically improve the efficiency of a solar panel. Since snow also happens to be white, it can reflect light and help improve the performance of the solar-powered system. Winter is only going to hinder a solar panel installations production if the solar panels are covered with snow.
What Happens to the Efficiency of a Solar Panel if the Panels Are Covered in Snow?
As you consider the prospect of getting a solar panel installation on your rooftop, you should remember that even if you are living in an area, such as Boston, the worst of the winter days only last three months, so your days of sunlight and heavy snow are limited. The further they are from the equator you are, the longer your days are going to be when the summer finally comes around, therefore though you may generate a little less solar power in the winter when the summer comes around your solar-powered system is going to make up for it in the long summer days.
Though the snow-related problems are usually minimal when it comes to solar panel installations, they are still there. There are a few things that you should be aware of about the winter weather as you consider installing a solar-powered system in your home.
- All solar panels are designed specifically to bear a certain amount of weight - and snow is typically not going to be heavy enough to cause any issues. All solar panels are going to undergo pressure ratings that will indicate that your solar panels are better at withstanding the weight of heavy snow.
- If snow is covering your solar panels, they aren’t going to produce any power, but it’s easy to clean them off IF YOU HAVE THE RIGHT EQUIPMENT. Solar panels need sunlight to produce solar power, so if your solar panels are covered in snow, they aren’t going to generate electricity. But thankfully most solar panels are installed at a tilt, and the snow is going to come off on its own. So if you don’t have the right equipment it is recommended that you let the snow come off the solar panels on its own accord. The solar panels are dark enough that they will attract enough sun that the snow will eventually melt off the solar panels on its own.
- Cold, sunny weather is good for solar panels. The winter months are good for the efficiency of a solar panel, and as long as the solar panels aren’t covered in snow the solar panels are going to continue producing solar energy. But like most electronic products, solar panels are going to function more efficiently in the cold conditions as opposed to in hot conditions. Meaning that your solar panels are going to produce more solar power for each hour of sunshine in the shorter winter days.
What About the Rain?
If you live in an area where you get little to no snow, chances are you get rain. Most people are going to have the same question of ‘will my solar panel installation work in the winter?’ The answer is yes solar-powered systems are going to work in the rain much as they will work in the snow. Solar panels are still going to work even when the light is reflected or partially blocked by clouds. The rain is going to help with the efficiency of a solar panel because they are going to naturally clean off the dust or the dirt.
Solar-Powered Systems in the Winter
Contrary to popular belief, sunny states like California, Arizona, and Florida aren’t the only places that solar panel installations are going to make sense. The top 10 cities for solar panels in the U.S. aren’t going to be the funniest ones. The Solar Energy Industries Association (SEIA) ranks Massachusetts, New Jersey, and New York in the top 10 states with the highest amount of installed solar panes in 2019, with large percentages of solar panel installations that are coming during the winter weather months. This is largely thanks in part to the fact the electricity prices are going to be one of the biggest drivers of solar energy savings - the higher your electricity rates, the more money you are going to save by getting a solar panel installation.
Look at Germany, whose sunshine levels are similar to Alaska’s. For over a decade, this northern European country has led the whole world in solar panel installation, and solar power makes a significant contribution to their national energy mix. Although other countries, which include the U.S. and China, are beginning to catch up, Germany’s success is a shining example of how winter weather solar can work across the whole globe, proving that solar panels and snow do go together.
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