If you’re considering a home solar panel system, you may be wondering how it will function in the winter. Solar panels need sunlight to function, after all, and sunlight can be hard to come by in winter. Also, snow presents a separate issue: if snowfall builds up on your solar panels, will sunlight reach them?
In this article, we’ll explain how solar panels work in the snow to power your home. You may be surprised to learn that the winter months won’t derail your home’s solar panel system.
Year-Round Solar Panel Performance
While the weather changes with the seasons, your home’s basic need for energy remains. In the summer, solar panel owners don’t have to worry about their panels receiving enough sunlight, as the sun is usually shining during the warm weather months. However, in winter, overcast days and periodic snowstorms will lower the amount of sunlight that your solar panels receive.
That said, the winter months aren’t a loss for solar panel systems. Days that are both cold and sunny are excellent for solar panels, as they operate with greater efficiency in lower temperatures. So, when the sun is shining but the air is cold, you’ll get more energy per hour out of your solar panels than you would on a sunny summer day.
Solar Panels in Cold Climates
Solar panels aren’t just for regions with notoriously warm climates! Northern states including New York and Massachusetts are among the most popular for solar panel installation. While this may sound counterintuitive, there’s a great reason why homeowners in colder climates are opting for solar panels: electricity costs. In these areas, homeowners use more electricity throughout the year due to a higher demand for heating. So, by installing solar panels, homeowners in these areas can reap savings on their high utility bills. It’s a smart, practical choice that will also largely lower homeowners’ impact on the environment.
Snow and Solar Panels
Many homeowners in Albuquerque and beyond worry that snowstorms will compromise their solar panel systems. The two main concerns regarding snow and solar panels are coverage and weight. Let’s discuss these issues below.
After a snowstorm, a layer of snow may be left covering your home’s exterior surfaces. With solar panels installed on your roof, that means that your panels will be covered in a layer of snow. To function, solar panels must be able to receive sunlight. With snow covering the panels, your solar system won’t be able to produce power.
That said, snow melts quickly. For mild to moderate snowstorms, the snow coverage will likely melt off of your panels before you even get a chance to address it. In the case of heavy snowfall, snow coverage can be removed from solar panels relatively easily. You can use lukewarm water and a squeegee to safely remove the snow from your panels. Just make sure to never use hot water for solar panel snow removal. The big difference in temperature could harm your solar panels’ tempered glass.
Weight From Snowfall
The other concern that many homeowners have regarding snow and their solar panels is weight. Snow buildup can seem heavy, and if it’s resting on your solar panels, you may wonder if damage is being done. But, you can relax – solar panels won’t crack under the weight of snow. The panels are made to be strong and withstand outdoor conditions. In fact, all solar panels are put through pressure tests before being approved for use, ensuring that they can endure a reasonable amount of weight. Snowfall is very unlikely to surpass solar panels’ pressure limits.
Snow: Not Worth The Worry For Solar Panel Owners
In reality, snow is unlikely to significantly impact your solar panels. In most cases, the snow will simply melt off of the panels in the day or hours after the snowstorm, leaving your solar panels in perfect condition to continue gathering energy from the sun. Except in extreme cases, homeowners can simply go about their days as usual when snow falls on their solar panels. Solar panels are durable and built to withstand Mother Nature’s full range of weather conditions – snow is very unlikely to compromise the panels in any way.