February 9, 2018
Solar Panels – Winter’s Secret Weapon
As the temperatures decline, we hope you’re staying warm and finding ways to reduce your energy consumption. Beyond just weatherizing your home and caulking any draft leaks, solar panels are a highly efficient source of renewable energy that can be used throughout the year. While solar panels may not be top of mind in the winter months when the days are short, they are still a very effective and efficient way to generate energy. If you already have a home solar panel system installed, you’ll want to maintain it during the winter!
Virginia Energy Sense’s goal is to make sure every Virginian is aware of the steps they can take to reduce their energy use. Whether you’ve installed a home solar panel system, are part of a coop solar program, or are considering a solar panel installation, here is some great info about using solar panels during the winter.
Cold Weather is Not an Issue
Some people may think the cold weather impacts a solar panel’s performance, but the temperature doesn’t play a large a role. Always remember that solar panels will continue generating electricity as long as there is sunlight. There is the chance that solar panel performance might be affected by extremes in temperature, such as when it’s extremely hot or below freezing outside, but typically the cold doesn’t make a difference.
Sunlight During the Winter
The Department of Energy published an article regarding solar panel performance during the winter, noting that researchers at regional test centers have found that “solar panels can still successfully generate electricity in snowy areas and other harsh environments.” Solar panels are made up of photovoltaic units, and lower voltage units tend to perform better when it is cold and sunny as opposed to when it is extremely hot.
The cold weather may lead to better performance for your solar panel system, but shorter days during the winter can impact the system’s energy output since there is less sunlight. One way to remedy this issue is by moving the solar panels so that they face the sun. The solar panels should also be tilted seasonally to maximize the amount of sunlight in each given day.
Solar Panels and Snow
The occasional snowfall will not have an adverse effect on your solar panel system, though you run the risk of your solar panels being blocked completely if it snows for an extended period. Fortunately, snow is typically not heavy enough to stick and will likely melt before it becomes a major issue. If your solar panels happen to be covered completely with snow and are nonoperational, contact a professional to wipe the snow off the panels or remove it yourself, taking care not to scratch the panels.
Be sure to visit our website for additional information on installing solar panels and our winter energy saving tips. For those of you living in or around Richmond, we recommend checking Richmond Region Energy Alliance’s SolarizeRVA program for more information on solar panel systems. Taking the time to maintain your solar panels will provide you with an efficient source of energy to keep you and your home warm throughout the winter.