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Solar Panels in the Winter

Jessica PirroDecember 3, 20192450

One thing that most people assume about solar panels is that you can only get a solar panel installation if you live in sunny climates. Well good news for those who live in cooler climates, that’s not true. Here’s the truth about solar panels in the winter.

Do Solar Panels Work in the Winter?

Contrary to what most people believe, the efficiency of a solar panel is better in the winter. Because the solar panels convert the sunlight to electricity, as long as there is still sunlight hitting the solar panels (no matter the weather) the solar panels will continue to work. The photovoltaic cells are more efficient when it is cold than they are in the heat. When it is hot out, the production of the solar panels slows down.

Like all electrical appliances, solar panels are going to work more efficiently in the cooler temperatures. A solar power fact is, when solar panels are being tested for their maximum solar power output, they are being tested at 41 degrees Fahrenheit. The cooler temperatures, the more optimal output the solar-powered system will have. The lab testing will give those looking to get a solar panel installation more knowledge on how solar panels will work in real-world situations.

Manufacturers will rate their solar panels for their peak temperatures. The peak temperature is the temperature in which the efficiency of solar panels while generating solar energy decreases. During the winter, it’s not as likely that the solar panels will reach their peak temperatures. The peak efficiency of a solar panel is most likely going to be in the winter.

It is important to remember that the days in the winter are shorter, thus there are only a few hours of sunlight during the winter. The higher efficiency of a solar panel in the winter, balances out the shorter days, making the output of a solar-powered system, nearly the same in the winter as it would be in the summer.

Another thing to keep in mind, regarding solar panels and the winter is the efficiency of a solar panel is going to depend on the geographical location in regards to the equator. The solar panel requirement and the savings will also depend on where you are located.

The solar panels are also going to be able to warm your home in the winter, lowering the cost of winter bills, which is a favorable advantage of solar panels. Regular heating systems drain electricity and result in high bills during the winter. Solar panels are a way to help you significantly lower your bills.

Prepping Your Solar-Powered System for the Winter

Many homeowners who recently purchased solar panels are worried about the impact that the snow will have on their solar-powered system. There is a variety of factors that may affect your solar-powered system during the chilly months. You are going to want to ensure that you are prepared for all of these cases.

What if Snow Falls All Over You Solar Panels

While solar panels perform best in the chilly weather, if snow falls on the solar panels your solar-powered system is going to most likely underperform, and it could cause your solar-powered system to not produce any solar energy at all. If you notice snowfall sticking to your solar-powered system, you’re going to want to clean it off right away. If your solar panels are tilted, you might be able to get away with not having to do anything, as it might fall off on its own. But, if it doesn’t, you will need to clean the snow off yourself. If you don’t, you’re going to have to deal with either paying a ton more on your next electric bill, or you’re going to have to deal with your lights completely going out if you’re solar panel installation is not grid-tied.

How to Get Snow Off You Solar Panel Installation

When it comes to getting the snow off your solar panels, there isn’t a “right” answer, though some solutions are better for certain situations than others. Consider the size of your home, the size of the snowfall, and your safety when taking into consideration each of these different ways to remove the snowfall off your roof.

Snow Melts Eventually

While this most likely isn’t the answer you’re looking for, it’s true: all snow will eventually melt. This is the best solution if your solar panels are tilted at an angle because you won’t have to worry about any safety risks. The snow will melt and it will slide right off of the solar panels. It will come off faster than it would come off your bare roof because of the heat of the solar panels.

Hose It Down

Using the hose is the main way of removing debris from solar panels, and this can go for snow as well. But, you’ll want to be very careful. If your hose is shooting cold water onto cold snow, that may result in it turning to ice, which may result in an even bigger mess than you were in before. If you can make the water in your hose warm, be sure to do that. But, do NOT use hot water, it could fracture the solar panels when the cold and heat react with one other. Just use lukewarm water.

Roof Rakes 

Roof rakes are a great way of removing snow from your roof, but this is extremely dangerous, and therefore not recommended. If you have to get onto your roof with the rake and can reach the solar panels with it, this is a method that works well.

Heat It Up

No, you shouldn’t take a blow torch to your roof. But what you can do, is connect a leaf blower to a plastic air hose or PVC pipe. When you turn the leaf blower on, you will be able to blow the snow off or generate hot air to melt the snow off.

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