Solar energy is proving to be one of the most sustainable alternative power sources. Other potent alternatives like hydroelectric and wind energy require specific conditions to work, while solar energy simply needs the sun. Since solar panels need to convert sunlight into usable energy, do they still work during the winter season when snow and hail are bound to affect their interaction with sunlight?
The short answer is yes, solar panels can still do their job during the winter months. Surprisingly, solar panels actually generate electricity more efficiently when the temperatures are colder, making the winter season the ideal time for maximum energy production efficiency.
How Do Solar Panels Work in the Winter?
Solar panels convert energy by absorbing sunlight, particularly its photon particles, into the photovoltaic cells on the panels. Once the photon particles meet the solar panel’s photovoltaic composition, electrons in the silicon are stirred into motion, creating an electric current. This current is then sent to your house’s electric supply system to power up your appliances and devices. Any unused electricity generated by the solar panels is stored in a solar storage battery so that you can continue to use it during nighttime.
Many people think that solar panels need to absorb heat from the sun to turn it into energy, which is why there’s the misconception that solar panels won’t work as well during the winter. However, solar panels only need sunlight to create energy, so the frigid temperatures during the winter months don’t really affect the conversion process. Regardless of how cold the winter weather is, as long as sunlight is hitting your system’s solar panels, they produce electricity for your house.
Another fun fact you should know is that heat can actually lessen solar panel electricity production. Studies have shown that once the temperature reaches around 77 degrees Fahrenheit, solar panels begin to lose efficiency and convert energy at slower rates. While the cool weather during winter won’t make your solar panels produce energy any faster, it prevents your solar power system from slowing down due to heating issues.
Do Solar Panels Work in Snow?
Some people wonder if solar panels can work during winter not because of the cold, but due to the season’s snow and possible hail. This is a valid concern since solar panels are usually left out in the open to get maximum sunlight, and are therefore significantly exposed to weather conditions like snow.
The truth is, snow isn’t as much a deterrent to solar panels as you might think it is. Even if you cover a solar panel in snow, the panel can still generate electricity because sunlight can penetrate through snow and make its way to the photovoltaic cells. Snow can also get easily blown off by the wind, and most solar panels employ a dark glass covering that can help melt away snow or have it slide off before a larger quantity accumulates to affect the panels’ performance.
It’s still better to be safe than sorry, which is why professional roofing companies advise to install the racks at a tilted angle, roughly 30 to 45 degrees, to prevent snow pileup during bad weather. As long as the panels can catch even a glimpse of sunlight, you won’t feel the difference in energy production.
A Final Word on Solar Panels During Winter Season
Solar power is one of the most reliable energy sources because it mostly depends on the consistency of the sun. Although heavy snow can possibly reduce the amount of sunlight that penetrates through, it won’t be able to completely prevent the solar panels from doing their job. A portion of sunlight will still be able to pass through the snow, regardless of how thick the pileup is, and make contact with photovoltaic cells on the panel to produce electricity.
Solar power is ideal for winter conditions because it guarantees that your house will be powered as long as the sun rises, which is another thing you can always count on. The cold temperatures protect the panels from overheating, helping them continue to produce electricity at top efficiency. It’s also easier to store energy during the colder season because the days are longer, meaning there is more time to gather sunlight.
If you’re looking to install solar panels for your home, All Year Sacramento is your number one choice for both quality and affordability. If you have questions regarding solar energy or if you’re curious about the installation process, just call us at 916-922-7796 and we will assist you with all your solar-related concerns.
(Source: Energy Sage)