Solar panels and weatherBurning questions

How do solar panels work in the winter?

The days are getting shorter, the lazy sun rises late, goes down early and no longer climbs so high in the sky. But it doesn’t mean that your solar panels will hibernate until spring comes – winter is their favorite time of year. Surprised? Let’s see how solar panels work in the winter.

Cool sunny weather is the best for your solar panels

Contrary to popular belief, solar panels do not like hot weather and perform better in cooler temperatures. Solar panels attract sunlight and their temperature is always higher than the ambient air temperature. Under a boiling summer sun, they heat up like a frying pan and can lose up to 15% in performance. In winter, the cold ambient air cools them down and helps them work better.

However, in winter, there is another problem – the days get shorter and solar panels may generate up to 50% less energy than in summer. And here are some tips to help your panels work more efficiently:

• Adjust the angle. In the winter, the sun gets lower. To make panels absorb more sunlight, you can increase the tilt of your modules: ask your installer or do it yourself. If the angle of your panels is equal to your latitude, in the winter you may add 15 degrees to it. Learn more in our article “Best angle for solar panels and how to get it right”
• Consider battery backup: A battery will store electricity generated during sunny days and power your home on gloomy days. It will also prevent you from losing power during winter storms. Figure out the right size for your energy bank with our article “How many batteries does it take to power a house?”
• Save energy: Be mindful of your consumption and keep track of where the power goes. You can perform a DIY home energy audit to keep the house warm in the winter without increasing your bills.

Leave the snow to slide off the panels by itself

Have you seen YouTube videos of someone climbing on their roof after a snowfall to clean solar panels from snow? These guys don’t know how solar panels work. Don’t even try it — you risk falling from the roof. Just wait and leave the snow alone — it will melt on its own.

Snow guard

a roof device used to prevent snow and ice packs from avalanching and damaging people, plants, and property below.

Snow does block some sunlight and may affect your panel’s performance to some extent. But when the panels start working and heat up, it will melt and slide off on its own providing you with a free cleaning. Trying to remove snow from the panels might cause more harm than good, so it might be best to let it be.

If you’re worried that someone might be buried under a pile of melting snow, you may invest in snow guards. They will keep the snow from falling while it slowly melts. 

By the way, you may want to read our article on the snow effect on solar panels in winter weather to fall in love with this season as much as your panels do.

Years of experience in translation and a love of nature help Julia find the right words to encourage going solar. She joined the team in 2023 and is happy to make her contribution to a greener future.

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