How Effective is Solar Power in the Winter?

The green movement pushed civilians to evaluate investments in renewable energy systems. Various myths sway their decisions, promoting the purchase of less efficient technology for their region. In colder areas, residents opt for wind turbines over solar panels. Consumers turn away from solar purchases, thinking that they cannot function in freezing weather. The belief that anything but the sun causes inefficiency in the system is inaccurate. When it comes to the effects of temperature on solar productivity, heat poses more harm than cold weather.

Summertime Solar Efficiency

Has your phone ever shut down in the summer, displaying a message about overheating? Extreme heat disrupts electronic devices’ ability to function adequately. Solar panels have a similar response.

Thermodynamics is a field of study that tells us that increased heat causes decreased power output. The dark color of solar panels maximizes their ability to absorb heat. Unfortunately, this is a downfall for summertime efficiency.

Scientists test residential solar systems at 77 °F, discovering that this temperature increases their energy output. In warm regions in the summer, the black panels can reach up to 149 °F, hindering their efficiency.

Winter Solar Efficiency

Cold weather increases the efficiency of solar panels by minimizing their exposure to overheating. Winter also enhances the amount of sun exposure that they receive due to a decrease in the shade. As fall strikes, the leaves fall off the trees leaving unrestricted access to daylight.

Snow and ice may impact the light reception by solar panels, but homeowners may prevent this occurrence. Light dusting of snow has little to no effect on the renewable energy system. Sunlight can reach the plate through thin layers of snow, and the wind typically blows off excess matter.

As the snow melts, moving down the solar structure, it carries away dirt and debris that could otherwise limit its efficiency. Clean panels produce the highest rates of power. But when heavy snow and ice accumulate on your roof, the systems may be affected.

Thick build-up restricts the panel’s ability to receive light, decreasing its ability to produce electricity. Luckily, there are sustainable solutions to this issue.

To reduce the build-up of snow and ice on solar panels, residents may set their attic to a cooler temperature than the rest of their homes. Keeping this area cold will reduce snow’s ability to melt and become ice that sticks to the roof. When snow and ice do not stick, homeowners can use an extended broom or leaf blower to move snow off the panels.

Cloudy and Rainy-Day Efficiency

Another common myth about solar panels is they are unable to function on cloudy or rainy days. The renewable energy systems work in any range of lighting. Although the sun may not be visible to the human eye during these weather patterns, the rays are present in the atmosphere.  

Just like snowmelt, rain can remove build-up from panels to increase their overall efficiency. Clouds also work to protect the systems from overheating, shading them from harsh exposure in the summertime.

Do You Live in a High-Efficiency Solar Region?

When it comes down to regional efficiency, every area has its beneficial seasons. Northern states have higher power outputs than southern states in the summer. And Southern states take the lead when snow and ice take over the North.

Wherever location your panels are in, you can increase their output by setting them at different positions. In the winter, you can optimize solar energy performance by tilting the plates up, creating a 15° angle from the roof. Homeowners may also increase summertime performance by tipping panels down 15° from the latitude.

If you are on the fence about purchasing a solar panel unit, it is best to educate yourself on their efficiency before deciding. The systems can produce power throughout all regions and weather patterns, but you may have to take precautions in southern areas during warmer months. Renewable energy sourcing is an efficient and effective way to access residential power and limit your impact on the planet.

Bio:

Jane is the Editor-in-Chief of Environment.co and an environmental writer covering green technology, sustainability and environmental news.