Do Solar Panels Work in Winter?
December 7, 2020
Contrary to popular belief, temperatures don’t dip in winter because Earth is farther from the sun. In fact, Earth is farthest from the sun in July and closest to the sun in January. So what does this mean for your solar panels when the temperature drops?
We’ll answer all your questions about how a solar panel installation performs in winter.
Do Solar Panels Work in Snow?
You’re not alone if you’ve found yourself asking, “Will solar panels work during winter in cold climates?” Many folks believe solar panels don’t work during the snowy season — but that’s a myth. As long as solar panels aren’t covered in snow for a long time, they work just as well during the winter (yes, even in snow).
Although it’s true that heavy snowfall can reduce sunlight penetration, panels produce more electricity than you might think in winter.
On premium solar panels, anti-reflective glass that’s designed to absorb maximum sunlight covers the silicon, thus generating more electricity. This means solar panels also produce more heat from the sun than your roof surface. That heat melts snow more quickly than on your roof, which keeps your solar system producing power even with heavy snow still on the ground.
In many cold climates, there are actually relatively few days of precipitation in winter. For example, Denver, Colorado, averages between two and three days of snowfall at more than 0.1 inch monthly between November and March. That snow usually melts within a few days, especially on solar panels!
Plus, manufacturers design solar panels to withhold 20 to 40 pounds of weight per square foot, so snow generally isn’t heavy enough to be a risk. During manufacturing, all solar panels undergo pressure tests that assess quality and durability. And because ratings vary by panel, you can opt for higher pressure ratings if you live in an area that sees a lot of snowfall.
Do Solar Panels Need Winter Maintenance?
The great thing about solar panels is that once installed, they’re virtually maintenance-free for most of the year, including in winter.
If you live in an area that receives heavy winter storms — think polar vortex level — you may want to hire a professional to clean off wet, heavy snow if you’re worried about roof safety. Freedom Solar takes extra safety precautions by installing snow guards in areas that may have snow buildup and be susceptible to damage.
Solar battery storage is also an important factor to consider during winter — as well as throughout the year. That’s because a battery allows you to store energy regardless of daily production.
Battery storage works by amassing all the electricity your panels produce and saving it right there at your home, rather than sending it back to the electricity grid. As a result, you can tap into that stored energy when you need more electricity than your panels can actually produce, like at night or on cloudy days.
How Effective Are Solar Panels in Winter?
When it comes to solar energy, remember this important fact: It’s not about warmth — it’s about sunlight.
In fact, solar power generation in summer vs. winter might surprise you. Cold, sunny weather is an ideal time to produce energy for your home because solar panels work more efficiently in cooler temperatures. The industry-standard specifications for PV systems are made at a temperature of 77ºF, but they’re even more efficient in colder temperatures.
Consider this: Two of the top cities for going solar (places with the most solar panels installed per capita) in the U.S. are in northern states — Burlington, Vermont, and Indianapolis, Indiana. Still not convinced? Germany, which has sunshine levels comparable to Alaska, is a global leader in solar panel installations, with an impressive 12.74% of its national energy credited to renewable energy.
Even in the most frigid temperatures, when sunlight shines, solar panels in winter months produce the electricity you need to become more self-sufficient by making your own power.
Looking for Solar Installers in Your Area?
Even wind, cold, rain and snow can’t stop solar panels from doing what they do best — generating clean energy so you can live more sustainably. And now is a great time to take the plunge into a solar-powered home so that you can have your installation ready to go for the long, hot summer days.
If you’re ready to make the switch, then we’re here to help. As a leading residential solar installer in Texas and Colorado, Freedom Solar has outfitted numerous homes and commercial businesses with solar, and we conduct safe, contact-free installations to keep you and your family protected from COVID-19 spread.
Contact us today for a free consultation, and we’ll get your home on the path to clean energy.