Do Solar Panels Work In The Winter?


Jack Ayre

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Do solar panels work in the winter? That’s a major concern for people who opt for solar power, but there’s no need to worry. The short answer is yes! Solar panels can still function in rainy and cloudy winter weather, but how? Below we’ll provide all the best advice for making the most of your solar panels during winter, and explain how solar panels can still generate energy on even the worst winter days. 

Do Solar Panels Work During Winter?

To answer this question, you need to know how solar panels work in the first place. Contrary to popular belief, solar panels don’t rely on sun heat. Instead, they convert sunlight into electricity.

Typically, sunlight is available in all weather. Therefore, there’s nothing to stop your solar panels from generating electricity during winter.

So, how about the cloudy and rainy days, which are more common in winter? 

Fortunately, solar panels can function in rainy or cloudy weather as they’ll still receive sunlight. However, it won’t be direct sunlight with all the clouds and rain. In other words, your solar panels won’t be at their best in such weather.

The sunlight that reaches your solar panels through rain and clouds is called diffuse light. This type of sunlight isn’t coming straight from the sun to the surface of the earth. 

Instead, diffuse sunlight is scattered into particles through the clouds and rain during its journey from the sun to the earth. Therefore, the strength of your solar panels during rain depends on the density of the clouds.

But this indirect sunlight can still be used by your solar panels to generate energy for your home. 

Advantages Of Cold Weather On Solar Panels

Does solar power work in winter? Perhaps, you think that even if it does, it won’t be enough to power up your entire house. That’s not true!

Surprisingly, solar panels not only work but thrive in cold weather. Here are two benefits of cold weather for solar panels.

Optimum Efficiency

Interestingly, solar panels function efficiently in cold weather, but how? 

The scientific explanation is that the panels use solar energy in the form of electrons that flow through the silicon sheets.

In the cold of winter, these electrons become inactive. Then, they get reactivated when the panels absorb sunlight. 

Such a surge of energy causes a huge difference in voltage, meaning that solar panels work better in cold climates.

Far From Peak Temperature

Generally, the peak temperature for solar panels is 25°C. The efficiency of solar panels decreases when the temperature rises above this point.

In winter, the temperature rarely reaches this point. The cold weather makes your solar panel maintain its efficiency, so solar panels can actually sometimes perform better during winter. 

Can Rain Increase The Efficiency Of Solar Panels?

Despite causing the sunlight to diffuse, rain can also positively affect the functionality of solar panels.

Raindrops fall onto the solar panels to wash away any dust particles. Clearing the surface of the panel with water is the ideal way to maintain its efficiency. Rain does that for you!

Do Solar Panels Work in Snow?

Believe it or not, your solar panels still function perfectly in snowy conditions. This can result from: 

1. Installation Racks

The installation racks on which solar panels are mounted are tilted 30–45 degrees. That prevents the accumulation of snow on the surface of your panels.

However, it doesn’t mean that snow won’t accumulate over your panels at all. It rather means that it’ll take a long time for the snow to accumulate enough to hinder the solar panels from working effectively. 

2. Faster Melting

Not only do solar panels prevent the accumulation of snow, but they can also melt it. The dark reflective glass of the solar panels accelerates the melting of snow. 

To explain, the dark surface of glass absorbs more heat from the sun, which helps melt the snow. That way, solar panels are, in themselves, a great way to get rid of the accumulated snow.

3. Albedo Effect

Due to the albedo effect, snow can reflect further sunlight. The snow on the ground acts as a mirror that reflects the light coming from the sun.

Thus, snow has an extra advantage that helps your solar panel function more efficiently.

How To Remove Snow From Your Solar Panels?

So, do solar panels work if they’re covered with snow? Yes, they would, but perhaps it’s a good idea to remove heavy snow that can affect the overall performance of your panels.

We recommend that you hire a professional to remove the snow because you may scratch your solar panels, causing mild to severe damage. 

In any case, there are several tools to use, including:

1. Roof Rake

You may use a roof rake with a soft head to remove snow from your solar panels. 

Don’t use a metal rake because it’ll cause damage to the surface of the solar panels.

2. Warm Air

You can also melt the snow with warm air. Use a leaf blower to pump warm air onto your roof.

To reach the panels, attach a plastic air hose or a plastic PVC pipe that’s long enough to reach the roof panels. 

3. Garden Hose

Use a garden hose to wash the snow off your solar panels. 

However, this technique might be risky. If you use water in very low temperatures, it might turn into ice, further layering onto your solar panels.

Do You Need A Solar Battery For Winter?

Days are shorter in winter, which translates into a reduced amount of sunlight. Thus, expect that your solar panels might not generate all the electricity you need.

The solution to this problem is to have a solar battery. That way, you can store your generated electricity for later.

Choose a solar battery that suits your needs. Don’t go for a large battery because it won’t fully charge. On the other hand, a small battery might put your electricity to waste. You can find out more about installing solar batteries with ESE Solar here

Do Solar Panels Work In Thunderstorms?

Installing a solar panel is a great idea if you live in an area that faces many thunderstorms. Generating electricity by solar panels is much better and more reliable than grid electricity.

During thunderstorms, power outages can be very common. Therefore, when you generate your electricity using solar panels, you keep things in your hands.

In other words, to avoid a power outage during a thunderstorm use solar panels connected to a solar battery for storage. That way, you keep your electricity needs in check.

Do Solar Panels Work In Winter FAQs

1. Are solar panels more efficient in summer or winter?

Solar panels usually perform better during the summer. That’s because the daytime hours are much longer in the summer, so there’s more sunlight. 

Typically, your solar panels will be 40-60% less efficient during the winter months. But they’ll still work – just less effectively. 

2. What sunlight is best for solar panels?

Solar panels function best with direct sunlight. However, they can still function in partial shade. Thanks to their photovoltaic nature, solar panels use light particles called photons to generate energy.

That way, your solar panels will be able to power up your home even on cloudy and rainy days.

3. How to make the most of your solar panels in winter?

There are several steps to increase the efficiency of your solar panels in winter:

  1. Adjust the panels’ angle towards the winter sun.
  2. Remove heavy snow from your solar panels.
  3. Reduce your energy use.
  4. Keep an eye on your solar batteries to keep them maintained.

Solar Panels In Winter Conclusion

So, do solar panels work in the winter?

Fortunately, solar cells work efficiently during winter. Solar panels convert sunlight, which is available during winter. Therefore, they work through rain, clouds, and even snow, although you can expect their performance to drop during heavy rain and snowfall.

Still, since daytime is shorter during the winter, we recommend that you use a solar battery to keep your electricity demands under control.

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Born in North West England, Jack kicked off his career in the insurance arena, dealing with claims for three years. Always up for a challenge, Jack leapt out of his comfort zone and embarked upon 5 years of excitement with the military.

Working for the Ministry of Defence, Jack specialised in counter-terrorism which took him to places such as Dubai, Oman, Iraq, Norway and Bahrain. During this period he worked with various Governments implementing strategic operations to prevent terrorism.

After travelling around various countries Jack increasingly came across various forms of solar from large solar farms to domestic solar panels. From here Jack took a keen interest in all things solar and started reading about the technological capabilities with a view to entering the industry after his career in the Ministry of Defence.

Once home after 5 fruitful years, Jack had 3 months leave in which he immersed himself in a solar crash course and got applying for jobs within the solar sector. He came across ESE Solar, a long-established forward-thinking company whose head office was only a stone’s throw away from him. He picked up the phone to see if there were any vacancies and within a week had a successful interview and obtained a full-time job, starting in the technical team.

Within the first few months, Jack onboarded in various online courses during work and social hours to speed up his knowledge of all things solar. Due to his strong work ethic and thirst for knowledge Jack was promoted to Head of Technical at ESE Solar. He currently leads the team and oversees the product development of new technologies within the company alongside assisting where necessary on their maintenance department.

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