Solar panels can work even in the cold winter months. It is just that the solar panels produce much less energy in winter than they do in summer.
Can snowfall impair the energy production of solar panels?
While cold weather does not negatively affect the performance of solar modules, other factors such as snowfall may affect the overall level of energy production.
In fact, solar panels are very popular in many cold weather climates. Ultimately, the total impact will come down to the amount of snow that accumulates on top of the solar modules.
A light accumulation of snow will not cause any serious damage, as the sun’s UV rays can still penetrate small amounts of snow.
Although solar modules can usually withstand the weight of larger snowfalls, if too much snow accumulates, production levels may drop.
Solar panels are built at an angle to optimize the absorption of the sun’s UV rays, which also helps to reduce snow accumulation as most of it can slide off or be easily removed.
If you live in a cold weather climate where snowfall is inevitable, it may be worthwhile to install a solar panel without a frame.
How can I optimize the production of solar panels?
Snow and ice can block sunlight from solar panels. Here are steps you can take to protect your panels and get the most out of your energy in winter.
Adjust the angle of your panels
The angle of the sun is different in winter than in summer. You may therefore need to adjust the angle of your solar panels in order to make the most of them in winter.
Most people can’t do this because solar panels are usually mounted on fixed shelves, but for those who can, adjusting the angle allows the panels to get more sunlight.
Because the sun is lower in the sky in winter than it is in summer, you will want your panels at a steeper angle during these months.
It is recommend that adding 10-15 degrees to the winter angle for your latitude.
As an added benefit, a steeper angle not only helps to catch more sunlight, but also helps the snow fall off the panels more easily.
Before making any adjustments, discuss your options with your solar panel supplier. You should be very careful not to tinker with your panels in a way that could void the warranty.
While an adjustable shelf may not allow for a 10 to 15 degree change, even a small change will generate more power.
Place your batteries correctly
You need to pay special attention to your solar cells during the winter months to ensure they continue to function. It is important to keep your batteries at the right temperature.
Batteries cannot operate at the extremely low temperatures experienced in some areas. You should therefore store your batteries indoors or make sure they are well insulated.
If you keep your batteries outside, monitor the temperature to ensure it is in the optimum range.
Watch your battery discharge
It is also important to observe the level of battery discharge. It is not recommended that you fully discharge your solar cells.
In fact, while some batteries may be suitable for 70% to 80% discharge levels, the recommended discharge level is actually 50%.
On high usage days, as you may experience in winter, keep an eye on your battery discharge and consider investing in a back-up generator.
Removing heavy snow from panels
While some snow on solar panels is not a problem, be aware of excessive snow accumulation. Solar modules covered in snow simply cannot capture sunlight in the same way.
In addition, heavy snow can cause the solar panels to bear too much weight and thus put pressure on the mounting points.
If you are removing snow from solar panels, make sure you use the right tools. Rough brushes or rakes can damage your solar panels.
Instead, use a soft snow brush to clean the snow without scratching the surface of the panels. Again, it is best to contact your solar panel supplier to ensure that you do not void the warranty.
During the winter months, your solar panels can still capture sunlight and create energy for your home.
They may just need a little more care and maintenance before and during the winter months. If you want to install solar panels for your home, Sungold is a specialist solar panel manufacturer.