Solar Panel Tips For Snowy Climates
If youre wondering how to get the most out of your solar panels in the winter, just follow these tips, and youll soon be producing as much sustainable power as possible. Install solar panels at a higher angle. A bigger tilt will help your panels generate more energy when the sun is lower.
Make sure your solar panels are facing south so they get more sunlight.
Avoid raking snow off rooftop solar panels, as it can scratch or damage them, and it can also be dangerous. If your panels are sufficiently tilted, snow should melt off fairly quickly.
All in all, solar panels can be a great way to reduce your carbon footprint and save money on energy costs, regardless of the time of year. And despite some minor issues like snow blockage, solar panels can even perform well in cold and snowy climates.
Power Through Winter Storms With Solar Battery Storage
In winter storms, the grid may not fare as well as solar panels. Power outages can be a frequent occurrence during the winter months, with some outages leaving families in the cold and in the dark for days.16 Although record numbers of Americans are staying home due to the pandemic, rising global temperatures and increasingly extreme weather events are making it much more difficult to ride out the next storm without reliable back-up power.17, 18
Installing a grid-connected, rooftop solar panel system with battery storage can give you clean, renewable back-up electricity so you can power through the next blackout. Weve seen that solar panels are incredibly resilient in the face of extreme weather conditions. By pairing your panels with a solar battery, you can store up your sunny days for a stormy one.
Its Not Really Worth It To Clean Them Yourself
First of all, we do not recommend that you clean snow off your solar panels. The risk of injury to oneself or damage to your panels is not worth the small benefit. Your array is likely to be snow-free in a day or two, and any loss in production will likely be covered by production during those long summer days.
Some people choose to take control of the situation by getting a solar panel snow rake or similar tool made for solar panel snow removal that wont damage the panels. However, most of the time, your panels will do all the snow removal work for you.
Don’t Miss: How Does The Solar Panel Rebate Work
Effectiveness Of Solar Panels During The Winter Months
A widespread misconception is that solar panels are hardly effective during the winter season. Although it is true that the energy output of solar panels is at its peak when exposed to direct sunlight and UV rays, the temperature does not play a large role in the solar panels overall performance.
Will Solar Panels Help You To Generate More Power In Winter
Solar panel investors face a great challenge when determining the effectiveness of solar panels during winter.
Since there is minimal sunlight, and in some cases, rain, everyone wants to know that they can depend on the panels throughout the year for energy production.
Solar panels still produce energy during the winter, however their output reduces by 32% on average.
A winter days shorter daylight hours and sub-optimal angle of the sun result in a lower power output.
When designing or Installing Solar Panels In Winter, electricity production has been taken into consideration, so your power needs will still be met.
Moreover through this blog all the doubts regarding Do Solar Panels Work in Winter will be cleared!
You May Like: How To Read Energy Bill With Solar Panels
Does Less Solar Production In Winter Increase Energy Bills
Not necessarily. Although your production is low, you can use net metering to ensure that your utility bills dont skyrocket. This is done through the feed-in tariff.
The only real difference is how you heat or cool your home.
If you use an air conditioner through the summer but heat your home with gas or an open fireplace, then you will reduce your power bill anyway, so any drop in power production will be mirrored in your energy use.
As you produce power through the day, you can feedback excess into the grid and get credits for this power to use when the sun goes down.
Because you are not running an air conditioner while harvesting power , you actually have more excess power to draw on at night. It all seems to balance out quite well.
Speak to your local installer about installing an oversized system. Instead of a 5kWh system, you can install 5 more panels and have a 6.6kWh system to pick up the slack.
Getting solar installations couldnt be this easy earlier! Get free solar quotes
Learning More About Solar Panels And Snow
If you want to look at a real world example more closely, feel free to explore the public data for my solar panels.
The screenshot at the top of this article is from February 7th, 2021. If you click around, youll see that the day before was partly cloudy but all of my panels were completely covered in snow. By the next day the snow had cleared off most of the panels except the bottom row and were generating a decent amount of power.
Youll see that pattern repeat throughout the winter as the snow came and went.
Its not something I worry about. I just wait until spring, when the snow is gone and sunny days return. Want to see an example? Go to my data for March 19, 2021. Its a cloudless cold spring day – perfect conditions for solar panels.
Don’t Miss: How Much Energy From Solar Panels
Is The Energy Output Of Solar Panels Worth It In The Winter
When installing solar panels during the winter months, it is important to view it as an investment to reduce the overall energy consumption throughout the year. Even with the potential of a solar panel running at a reduced efficiency due to inclement weather and lack of sunlight, there is still a high demand for solar panel installation during the winter.
Emily Folk grew up in a small town in Pennsylvania. She has a passion for ecology and conservation and sustainability.
In high school, she discovered her other passion: writing. After graduating with a degree in Professional Writing, the most natural step seemed to be combining the two passions in one forum. Her goal is to help people become more informed about the world and how we fit into it.
How Does Roof Slope Help Keep Your Solar Panels Clear
Snow is surprisingly sticky, especially if its a wet rather than a dry, powerdery snow. My roof pitch is 5:12, which is a 42Â°. Thats pretty steep. Even so, the snow doesnt really slump off until the temperature warms up.
I also have something working against me, which is that the bottom row of my panels is mounted on a flat section of roof that abuts the pitched section. Thats a recent addition to my home. Before that addition, if I had a few inches of snow on my panels, the snow would slide off the roof once the temperature warmed up a little.
This would sometimes happen in dramatic fashion: the snow would slide off in dramatic fashion, like an avalanche. This is something to keep in mind if you have solar panels on a pitched roof. Be prepared for snow avalanches off your solar array to happen, so you might want to keep the area underneath clear of things like patio furniture or vehicles.
If you have a roof with a very steep pitch, you probably will have better luck with clean panels in the winter. Conversely, a flat roof will remain snow covered for longer.
Recommended Reading: What Is The Difference Between Sole Proprietorship And Corporation
How Does Snow Affect Solar Panels
One of the solar myths is that solar panels do not work during the winter. The actual truth is they can still do their job, especially because the whiteness of the snow will reflect light and improve the solar systems performance. Certainly, you will generate less power during these cold months that you will in the summer, but thats not the reason to decide not to install them. The problem may occur when the huge amount of snow falls and traps solar panels underneath at that point, they will not be able to work, so you will have to get up there and remove deposits of snow as soon as possible.
Does Snow And Cold Winter Weather Offer Any Benefit To My System
Actually, yes. Believe it or not, cooler weather is better for productivity than ultra-hot weather is. High temperatures are hard on electronics in the summer, so the winter months provide more efficient energy production. In some cases, when snow is on the ground and the panels are clean, the snowy surface reflects sunlight and slightly boosts output. This mirror-type effect, called the albedo effect, also speeds the melt. Its the same reason skiers can get sunburned on sunny winter days.
In addition, melting snow is a natural panel cleaner, removing the layers of pollen, dust, bird droppings and leaf debris that accumulated during the previous seasons.
Recommended Reading: Does The Government Pay For Solar Panels
How Different Weather Impact The Solar System
Modern-day solar panels are built in a way that allows them to withstand different and extreme weather conditions like heavy rain, snowstorm, hail, severe wind, and extreme heat. When they are constructed, they are subject to testing, and they need to get Underwriters Laboratories certification in order to claim they are resistant to bad weather and extremes in that sense.
But, you need to know that that certificate doesnt guarantee every solar panel has the same quality and durability. Most solar panels should withstand wind up to 140 MPH, and they can only benefit from cold temperatures because the whiteness of snow will reflect light and improve their performances. Its just important they are clean and not covered with loads of snow.
Although they are built to last and to face different challenges, solar panels can be damaged by hail or storm, for example. But in that case, you should be covered with your warranty or insurance policy. And lets not forget about the most surprising fact extreme hot climates can lower the efficiency of solar panels! If the temperature is above 87 degrees, you can expect that exactly this happens. Every degree above this number will lower their productivity by one percent.
What Can I Do About Snow On My Panels
You could hire a professional to come safely remove the snow from your panels. After some extreme snowstorms, this may be your best bet. But oftentimes, youd spend more money on this service than your solar system would save you.
One thing you could do, if you have a ground-mounted system and your panels are low to the ground, is keep the ground in front of your panels bare. As the snow falls down off your panels, it wont pile up and drift back onto your panels.
Overall, your best option is to simply do nothing! Whether you prefer to stay inside with a warm beverage or venture outside for some winter sports, chances are your favorite snow activity isnt its removal. Unlike your driveway, you can take the easy way out and let the sun do its thing. Youll stay safe, keep your panels working properly, and be back to producing electricity in no time!
You May Like: Can You Use Pine Sol On Dishes
What Your Solar Electricity Production Will Look Like In The Snow
The picture at the top of this article is a screenshot from my Enphase solar monitoring system. Enphase microinverters tell you how much electricity each panel generates, and the screenshot shows how many watt-hours of electricity each panel generated over the course of the day.
While this was an overcast day, there was still enough light for the top row of panels to generate a decent amount of electricity. But as you can see from the pattern of light and dark panels, some panels had snow on them while others remained covered.
It had snowed the day before, but there was enough wind and sunlight to clear most of the snow off the top row and a couple other panels. But the bottom row of panels were still completely covered in snow, and several others remained partially covered.
As you can see, the completely covered panels generated basically no electricity – 6 Wh might power a small flashlight for the day, but thats it. But the top row of panels still generated significantly more.
Solar Panel Myth Busters: Do Solar Panels Work In The Snow
Solar power is on the rise. With more homeowners than ever hoping to take control of their own electricityand help the environment at the same timeexperts predict that the number of Americans using solar energy will triple by 2030.
That popularity brings plenty of questions. For homeowners living in harsher climates its not uncommon to worry about how this modern system can hold up to what Mother Nature delivers in the cold seasons. After all, what good are solar panels in the snow or during an overcast winter day? If youre wondering if winter means hibernation for your panels, were here to chat about how solar panels perform when its snowy.
Don’t Miss: What Is The Current Efficiency Of Solar Panels
Why Solar Panels Can Work In A Canadian Climate
Are you wondering how its possible to install solar panels that are efficient year-round, given the never-ending snowstorms and cold temperatures that happen throughout our Canadian winters? Well then, you came to the right place, this article will inform you of all the reasons thateven if you have metric tons of snow per storm, you can still have solar panels.
What Happens If There Is Snow On The Solar Panels
If there is snow on the solar panels, it means that the sun must penetrate another layer to reach the solar panels. Therefore, keep the solar panels free of snow to increase the possibility of generating as much energy as possible.
Even if you have a thin layer of snow on your solar panels, up to 1 centimeter, some sunlight can still penetrate and hit the solar panels in the winter. If the panels are mounted at the right angle, thicker layers of snow will slip off in the thaw.
Remember that it can be risky to be on the roof. Do not try to remove snow from your solar panels in the winter on your own. Safety first!
Read Also: What Makes A Good Solar Panel
Snowfall Is Good For Your Modules
When snow melts off your array, it actually provides a free cleaning service. In drier parts of the United States, dust and dirt can build up on the surface of panels. This buildup can affect a solar arrays efficiency, meaning less production . Solar array owners in these areas are often forced to have their arrays washed to retain efficiency.
While the summer months offer more sunlight than winter months, your panels actually operate more efficiently in colder weather. This is because cooler temperatures boost electrical conductivity, while hot temperatures diminish it. So the lower energy production in the winter may not be as much as you would think.
Fun Fact: Solar panels can convert any type of sunlight into electricity, which means light thats reflected from snow to your array can help lower your electric bill even more.
Clear Snow Off Your Panels
If you dont have a pole mount , its wise to brush excess snow off your panels so that it doesnt block the solar cells and limit production.
If possible, opt for a broom or brush with soft bristles. The face of your panels is made out of glass. Theyre going to be fairly sturdy, but you dont want to use abrasive materials that could scratch the glass.
Be careful climbing on to your roof to clean your panels if you have a roof-mounted system. The ice buildup combined with the slope of the roof presents hazardous conditions. If you attempt to clear snow off your roof-mounted array, please take the necessary safety precautions, like wearing heavy-grip shoes and a secure harness.
If you live in an area where it snows regularly, we strongly recommend opting for a ground mount system. They are much more accessible and safer to maintain because you dont have to climb on your roof to access your panels.
Also Check: How Many Kilowatts Of Solar Power Do I Need
Solar Panels Need Light Not Heat
Solar panels only require light, not heat, to continue functioning correctly. While the efficiency of your solar panelsmight be impacted by extremes in temperature, such as when its extremely hot or below freezing outside, solar panels are far more affected by the amount of light they receive than they are by how cold it is.
The cold might actually help your solar panels produce more energy. Solar panels are most efficient when its cold and sunny outside, so theyll still be able to produce energy as long as youre not living in the Arctic Circle or somewhere else that gets very little sun in the winter. However, the impact temperature has on solar panels mainly depends on the voltage of your units. Photovoltaic units with a lower voltage are more impacted by high temperatures than low voltage units, which means that low-voltage sun panels tend to perform better when its cold and sunny out.