It’s the time of year when many people hope for more sunlight (and warmer weather), but just because the sun doesn’t shine as long or the temperature outside is near or below freezing doesn’t mean your solar panels will not work. That’s just one of the misconceptions about solar panels in winter, so here is some information to help you better understand how a solar system works even when it’s cold outside.
One of the most common misconceptions is that solar panels stop working when it gets cold, but the opposite is actually true. It’s not the heat from the sun that produces energy; when photons from sunlight hit your solar panel’s photovoltaic cells, they activate electrons that convert the energy into an electric current. In fact, solar panels are more efficient at lower temperatures versus the high temperatures in the summer months. As long as the sun isn’t obstructed by clouds or fog, your solar panels work great in the winter.
Even with more limited sunlight hours during the winter months, as long as your home gets unobstructed sunlight for a few hours a day, panels can produce enough energy to power your home. Your solar installer will check to make sure that the place where your panels are installed gets enough sunlight in the winter months when the sun is lower in the southern sky than in summer, which may require a slight adjustment on the angle during the winter to optimize sunlight exposure.
Most solar panels are designed to continue working even with a light cover of snow, but if you experience heavy snowfall you will need to make sure you can remove it safely from your solar panels; in order to work, the panels must have unobstructed exposure to sunlight. Your installer may also be able to angle the solar panels in a way that keeps snow from building up on top. In addition, it’s important to talk to your solar company about how much snow you expect so they can install panels that are designed to withstand a certain load and won’t get damaged from heavy snow.
You don’t have to live in the sunshine belt states of Arizona or Southern California to take advantage of the benefits of solar energy. Even in colder winter climates, solar provides a reliable alternative to power your home. Contact Intermountain Wind and Solar today to find out how easy it is to get solar installed (even in the winter).
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