Solar Systems and Winter

A commonly asked question regarding the use of solar power is along these lines: How effective are solar systems and winter?

Many people are under the mistaken belief that solar systems don’t work well in the winter because of the cold temperatures. In fact, solar systems and winter are very compatible.

Solar systems work better in colder temperatures than they do during the warmer summer months. They may produce less energy, but that’s due to the shorter days providing less sunlight, not because of lower temperatures.

One of the possible problems with solar systems and winter has to do with the accumulation of snow cover on your solar panels. A complete, thick covering of snow on solar panels will decrease their effectiveness. However, there are a couple of things you can do to take care of this.

One is to increase the tilt of your solar panels. Roof mounted panels typically have less of a tilt in order to decrease the potential effects of wind on them. But if you have ground mounted panels, the tilt can be increased which will allow snow accumulation to slide off.

If you have roof mounted panels, you can buy a snow rake at your local hardware store. Find one that has a squeegee mounted on it so you can carefully pull off the accumulated snow.

Once you have your solar panels working again, they warm up fairly quickly, melting any leftover snow.

Something else to consider when thinking about solar systems and winter is the fact that snow reflects a good deal of sunlight. So even with heavy snow, your system may generate a good bit of electricity from this reflected sunlight off the snow. Thus, you can get more generation during snowy times.

Another consideration about solar systems and winter is you may have a few days of decreased output from your system at the very time your electrical needs are greater. So you may have to depend on either stored electricity from a battery system or using the electrical grid during those few days. Going back on the grid for a few days may increase your cost for that month, but the savings you gain during the rest of the year from your solar system will more than make up for it.

In short, your solar systems and winter are compatible. They may work more efficiently in fact.

Keep Alternate Energy of Plymouth, MA, in mind for doing your inspection and for giving you direction in using your solar system in winter. Contact them today at 800-327-6527.

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