How Does Winter Weather Impact My Solar Panel Production?
Brrr, do you feel that winter chill? For those of you with solar panels, the bitter cold of winter may leave you worrying about your panels. When the inevitable snow hits, what will happen with your panels? Will you still get the energy you need?
Don’t fret just yet. We’ve compiled all you need to know before winter strikes:
Why do solar panels work better in the winter?
Yes, it turns out that winter weather is actually better for your solar panels to produce energy. We’ll explain: all solar panels are rated for a peak temperature when they operate most efficiently. As the temperature increases, your solar panels produce less efficiently than before. During winter, it’s incredibly unlikely that your solar panels will hit that peak temperature, allowing your solar panels to absorb more energy.
This doesn’t necessarily mean that winter months will lead you to produce more than you would in the summer months. Though your energy absorption is more efficient, the days in winter are far shorter. You may only get a few hours of sunlight in the winter, compared to a day in the summer when you could get nearly 12 hours of sun. Your overall energy production may be lower, but don’t count winter out for producing energy. You can still see a good amount of energy produced during these months!
What about snow on my solar panels?
There’s nothing like a snow day, but when it comes to solar panels, you might find yourself lamenting the arrival of snow. The good news first — minimal amounts of snow can have little impact on your solar production. If there is only a light dusting, sunlight can still get through to your panels. Heavy snow, on the other hand, may be an issue for your solar panels. A large covering of snow can prevent absorption and will need to be removed in order for you to receive energy.
Once it snows, the first thing you’ll want to do is get rid of the snow on your panels. Stay seated — you may not need to do anything just yet. Solar panels are typically installed at an angle, allowing for snow to slide off as soon as the sun hits your panels. As soon as the snow comes off, you can start generating like before. This process happens fairly fast when the sun is out, which can prevent you having to remove the snow manually. If the snow still isn’t melting, try using a roof rake to safely remove the snow.
If your solar panels were in need of a cleaning, you’re in luck. Snow can actually clean your panels for you! It washes away the soil that may be on top of it, leaving your solar panels sparkling and ready to produce energy for you.
Will I have a higher utility bill in the winter?
Whether or not you have an energy bill in the winter months depends on your system’s production and your energy usage. If the winter is particularly harsh, your panels may see less sun and you’ll likely require more energy to keep your home warm. If you produced more energy than you used during the spring and summer, you may be able to apply any credits you earned during these months, which could remove most or all of your energy bill depending on your utility company. Ultimately, the answer lies in your production versus your usage during the winter, as well as the rest of the year.
Are you ready to make the switch to solar and see year-round savings?