How Solar Power Works in the Winter:
It’s that time of year again, the temps have dropped and the snow has started falling. If you read our last blog post about optimizing your solar power in Vermont, then you already know one way to get the most value from your solar. We often hear, “Solar can’t possibly work in a Northeastern climate.” But it does. A common misconception with solar panels is that colder weather means less production; it’s quite the opposite. We are here to explain how solar energy works in the winter and debunk any myths you might have heard.
Common Misconceptions Around Solar:
1. The Cold Weather Stops Solar Panels from Producing
The days are shorter during the winter, meaning less time for solar to produce, but this is made up for by greater efficiency of the panels in the cold! Solar panels produce energy from the sun’s light, not the sun’s heat. It may seem counterintuitive that they would perform better in colder temperatures, but they do. This is because as the temperature rises, solar panels lose efficiency due to increased resistance in the electrical circuit. In colder temperatures, solar panels are able to maintain a more consistent voltage, which leads to an increase in their overall efficiency. This means those cold, sunny days will still produce plenty of energy to power your home or business.
2. Solar Panels Won’t Work When it Snows Causing A Rise In Electric Costs
Although snow can block some of the sun from getting to the panels, it usually does not affect production enough to make solar any less worth it during the winter months. Most solar panels are installed at an angle, whether they are on the roof or on the ground. This makes it easy for the snow to slide off, and the warmth from the panels will melt it at faster rates. Oftentimes, the snow on the ground can actually reflect more light into your panels. This is particularly true of our ground mounts, where we use bifacial solar modules that generate power from both sides!
We can’t speak for other companies, but ours provides an estimate of your solar generation throughout the year. So if a snowstorm blocks your panels for a few sunny days- it’s likely been accounted for in your production estimate. The summer months often overproduce, meaning if there is a chance of snow in your forecast, you probably have remaining solar credits to make up for it. If you prefer to see a consistent amount of production though, there is the option to clean them off.
3. Panels Require More Maintenance During the Winter Months
As we mentioned above, it doesn’t hurt to clean off your solar panels when a heavy snowstorm rolls through. This doesn’t mean that it is a necessity. You can count on the summer months and sunny winter days to provide you with plenty of energy to get you through the winter. For those who love to ensure the highest rates of productivity for their panels, there are some easy options for cleaning off the panels. They make tools like a “SnowJoe”, that is meant for scraping the snow off your panels. If you have ground mounts, then cleaning off your solar should be easy. For the roof, on the other hand, you may need an extension pole. If you have solar panels on your roof- NEVER- get on top to try to clean them off. This is extremely dangerous and unnecessary. If you can scrape off the bottom of the array, the sunlight will heat the panels and cause the rest of the snow to melt. The power of the sun will do most of the work for you!
So is solar power worth it in places like Vermont that have harsh winter months? As a local solar company based in an area that deals with this kind of climate, we can say the answer is yes. Our customers receive lower electricity costs all year round. Solar companies that are reliable give you peace of mind in knowing that they take all seasons into account for your installation. This means you won’t have to worry over the colder months.
If you have any questions, feel free to contact us at 802.775.7900, or email us at email@example.com.