Innovative technologies such as solar cells and panels are propelling us toward cleaner, greener energy sources. However, the pertinent question is whether the benefits of solar energy are limited to those who live in America’s sunnier states, such as California, Florida, or Texas. Is solar energy a viable and practical option for states with snowy winters?What impact does snow have on solar panels? Let us go over this in detail and try to answer some questions about using solar during snowy winters.
Do Lower Temperatures Affect Solar Panel Efficiency?
Solar panels, in essence, convert sunlight into electricity, regardless of how cold or hot the weather is. In fact, because electrical conductivity improves at lower temperatures, photovoltaic panels are more efficient in colder weather.
Manufacturers of solar panels test the panels at 41 degrees Fahrenheit, and these panels perform best at lower temperatures. Peak temperature ratings are specified by manufacturers for their solar panels. Above the rated peak temperatures, the panel efficiency begins to decline.
Solar panels operate at their most efficient in the colder months of the year. However, fewer hours of sunlight in the winter offset the increase in efficiency, resulting in winters producing as much energy as summers.
The amount of solar energy you receive is highly dependent on your latitude. Entering your zip code will return estimates for monthly solar output at your location.
What Effect Does Snow Have on Solar Panel Energy Outputs?
Of course, your panels will not produce energy if they are covered in snow. However, certain characteristics inherent in the design of solar panels help to neutralize or mitigate the negative impact of snow:
Solar Panel Installation at an Angle
This allows the snow to slide off the panels more easily. The panels can be tracked either seasonally or continuously. Both of these systems allow you to adjust the panel angle, and a steeper angle during the winter can help maximize the sun’s rays, making it harder for snow to accumulate.
Solar Panels’ Dark Silicone Cells Absorb Heat
The dark solar panels absorb the sun’s rays, causing the heat to melt the snow. Solar panels typically have a temperature that is 20°C (36°F) higher than the ambient temperature. As a result, even a small amount of sunlight helps the solar panels warm up and accelerate snow melting.
Snow’s Anti-Soiling Properties
This property of snow benefits your solar panels by providing a virtually free cleaning service when the snow melts off your array. This is especially useful in drier areas of the country, where dust tends to accumulate on the panel surface, reducing the array’s efficiency. Snow’s anti-soiling properties result in cleaner panels that work more efficiently.
The Effect of Albedo
When sunlight strikes certain surfaces, a portion of it is reflected back into the atmosphere. Because of the albedo effect, solar panels surrounded by snow can absorb up to twice as much light, increasing the energy output of your solar panels.
Allow It To Snow
Overall, snow will not have a significant impact on the operation and output of your solar panels during the winter. Avoid injuring yourself or causing damage to the panels by attempting to clear them of snow. The long summer days will make up for any minor loss in output, and you’ll also get a free cleaning service for your panels.