Do Solar Panels Work in the Winter?

Solar panels do not stop producing electricity during the cold season.

Many potential solar adopters put off PV system installation until spring or summer for this very reason, but this notion has no basis in fact.

Solar Panels Work in the Winter

Solar modules generate energy all year long. Photovoltaic power is an investment that will pay off no matter when you plan your installation, so don’t let misinformation stop you from going solar this winter.

Solar Panels Don’t Need Warmth

Contrary to popular belief, photovoltaic modules don’t need warm weather to create energy — they only need sunny weather.

Photovoltaic power is the conversion of light into electricity. When the sun’s rays hit a PV panel, photons of light energy knock the electrons in its solar cells loose. As a result, the electrons become energized and begin to flow in a steady electrical current. This process is known as the photovoltaic effect, and it doesn’t need the sun’s warmth.

UV rays from the sun are always beaming down, regardless of what the temperature is outside. Since solar panels work with light — not heat — they generate electricity no matter how cold it gets.

Cold Winter Weather Actually Boosts PV Panel Output

Solar PV panels not only work during winter — they work better.

Winter temperatures improve photovoltaic power output. When it’s cold, solar cells are more efficient at converting sunlight into electricity. Conversely, when PV modules get too hot, they produce less energy.

So many industry experts consider a sunny, cold climate to be ideal for PV system installation.

Solar Panels and Snowy Weather

What about snow? If the ground is covered, photovoltaic power output may increase — the bright white powder can reflect sunlight back to the PV panels, allowing them to harness more of the sun’s energy.

Of course, snow on your PV modules is another story. Anytime a PV system is covered, sunlight can’t reach the panels. When that happens, electricity production stops.

Fortunately, snow doesn’t cover PV modules very often. Solar panels are smooth, and most are installed at an angle. Consequently, snow usually melts and slides away rather quickly. Most of the time, winter snowfall doesn’t cause a noticeable dip in photovoltaic power output.

However, if a huge blizzard hits your area of the Intermountain West, snow could pile up on your PV panels and block energy production. With a snow roof rake — essentially a squeegee on an extension pole — you can easily remove the accumulation without damaging your solar panels.

You don’t have to wait for winter to pass to begin planning your photovoltaic power installation. The sooner your PV modules are up and running, the sooner you’ll begin saving money by generating your own electricity.

Intermountain Wind & Solar offers free consultations to residential and commercial customers in Utah, Nevada, Wyoming, Colorado and Idaho. To schedule yours, or for answers to your questions about solar panels, contact us today.