Will Your Solar Panels Work in the Winter? (Inclement Weather Guide)

February 8, 2022

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Property owners often ask, will solar panels work in winter? This is a vital question to consider! Property owners want to know that they’re getting the highest return on their solar investment. Also, some people might simply be curious about how solar panels work in inclement weather.

Solar panels work by absorbing light from the sun. In turn, they produce energy whenever they’re exposed to sunlight. Also, note that colder outside temperatures don’t typically affect solar panel effectiveness!

While solar panels still work in winter, this doesn’t mean you should ignore them once snow starts falling. Additionally, it’s vital that you tend to those panels after heavy storms and at other times throughout the year.

To ensure you’re getting the most return on your solar investment, check out some added information about how solar energy panels work. Then, discuss this information with a solar installer near you. He or she can offer even more advice to ensure you’re getting the best return on your solar investment!

How Does Solar Work In the Winter?

So, let's answer the question, "do solar panels work in the winter?" Solar panels work with specialty photovoltaic panels underneath clear glass. These panels allow light particles, called photons, to knock electrons free from atoms. In turn, this creates an electrical flow which then travels over wires in the panels.

When you consider that solar panels work with photons, you might then realize how they work in wintertime! While wintertime often brings more overcast days, the sun does still shine in cold weather. Additionally, sunshine bouncing off bright snow often creates even more light for solar panels.

While solar panels work in wintertime, this doesn’t mean you can simply ignore them! Those panels must be clear for them to absorb those photons. In turn, it’s vital that you clear away snow, ice, storm debris, and anything else from their surface.

Note, too, that solar panels usually produce far less power in wintertime than in summer, due to shorter daylight hours. Subsequently, you don’t want to expect the same amount of solar power during winter months that you enjoy during summertime.

Do Solar Panels Work All Year Round?

There is no reason why solar panels shouldn’t work all year round. Solar panels rely on sunlight exposure to produce electricity. Since the sun shines year-round, your solar panels also work throughout all four seasons. Also, colder weather doesn’t typically affect solar panel effectiveness, as said.

However, property owners don’t want to assume that solar panels produce the same amount of power year-round. Shorter daylight hours during winter means less sun exposure. Additionally, tropical areas might experience lots of cloudy, stormy days during summertime or rainy seasons.

At the same time, fall weather in areas with lots of mature trees can mean thick debris covering those panels! In addition to cleaning away snow in wintertime, property owners should brush those panels during other months as needed. This simple step ensures those panels receive maximum sunlight year-round.

Do Solar Panels Work in the Rain?

As with snowfall during wintertime, solar panels absorb sunlight while it’s raining. While cloud cover means less solar power generated during a rainstorm, those panels still absorb some light particles. In short, if there is light in the area, solar panels work to absorb it!

While solar panels do still work in rain, remember that heavy rain and high winds often deposit debris on a roof. In turn, it’s vital that property owners check those panels after storms move through for needed clearing.

How Much Do Solar Panels Generate in Winter?

Solar panels might produce some 40% to 60% less power during wintertime than they do in summer. This results from shorter daylight hours, more cloud cover during winter months, and snowfall blocking the sun’s rays. Additionally, homeowners might neglect to clear snow off those panels regularly!

Your solar panel installation also affects their overall energy production. For example, an experienced installer ensures to tilt those panels properly, for maximum sun exposure. He or she might also suggest trimming overhanging tree branches that otherwise block those panels.

roof covered in snow with solar panels

How Do I Keep My Solar Panels From Getting Clear of Snow?

You have a few options for keeping solar panels clean and clear of snow and other debris. Consider a few suggestions here:

  • Use a roof rake. Choose one with a soft side rather than just tines, to protect those glass panels.
  • Soft-bristled outdoor brooms help remove thick snow and heavy debris. Brush these lightly over solar panels, to avoid scratches.
  • If you have a leaf blower, use it to remove light snow! Use caution about where the snow lands so it doesn’t simply fall onto neighboring property.
  • During warmer winter days, you might spray the snow with a garden hose. Use a light pressure and try a small patch first. Next, ensure that water doesn’t freeze before moving on!

Property owners might also invest in a pulley-operated tarp. One reason to choose a tarp is that it keeps snow and ice off the panels completely. Two, you can quickly remove the tarp once the snow stops! Three, tarps don’t risk blowing snow onto a neighboring property or elsewhere.

Are Solar Panels Good for All Climates?

Solar panels work to create usable electricity from sunlight in virtually any climate. However, you might note that some areas don’t offer enough sunlight to make solar a good investment. This is especially true for smaller properties that don’t offer enough space for more than a few panels.

With that in mind, you don’t want to assume that your property isn’t a good candidate for solar. A solar power system works even in cloudy weather, as said. Also, remember that even a smaller solar array can still lower your utility costs! Above all, you’ll also be reducing your “carbon footprint” with solar, no matter how few panels you choose.

How Do I Keep My Solar Panels Working Effectively?

There are two important steps you might take to ensure solar panels work effectively. One, keep them clean and clear of obstructions. Two, schedule regular inspections of the panels, the inverter, and their wiring.

First note some added information about keeping panels clear of obstructions. Since those panels work by absorbing light, it’s vital you ensure maximum sun exposure. In turn, you’ll want to trim back overhanging or overly thick branches as needed.

Brushing solar panels regularly also removes thick layers of dust, dirt, and other grime. You might also spray them with a garden hose and a pressurized nozzle, using light pressure to avoid damage.

While solar panels rarely need maintenance or repairs, regular inspections are still vital. A solar panel installer might check for loose wires, cracked glass, or damaged metal. He or she can also note if the inverter is working properly. This check allows you to make repairs as needed, ensuring those panels work effectively year-round.

Lastly, don’t hesitate to ask your solar panel installer for added tips and pointers on ensuring efficiency! A well-qualified installer is typically happy to help property owners when it comes to using their panels. He or she can note if anything on your property might obstruct those panels, and how to keep them clean. Their help can mean added benefits when you decide to go solar!

roof with solar panels

At What Temperature Do Solar Panels Stop Working?

Manufacturers usually test solar panels at about 77 degrees Fahrenheit. Additionally, most manufacturers rate their panels to perform at 60 to 90 degrees Fahrenheit. However, 150 degrees Fahrenheit and higher temperatures might compromise panel wiring. In turn, those panels might not work as efficiently in extreme heat.

With that in mind, note that manufacturers design solar panels for maximum durability. Most panels withstand extreme temperatures and hot sunlight. To that end, property owners should let worries about local weather conditions keep them from investing in solar!

The Longevity of Solar Panels

Solar panels don’t have moving parts, so they don’t typically just “seize up” one day and then stop working. Instead, solar panel parts degrade over time. In turn, they lose efficiency, usually at about 1% annually. What does this mean?

Simply put, most solar panels produce about 1% less power every year. So, a ten-year-old solar panel is probably producing only 90% of the power it did when first installed. This lost efficiency depends on the panel manufacturer, weather exposure, and other such factors.

With this in mind, many homeowners replace their solar panels after 25 to 30 years. At that age, those panels are typically only producing 70% to 75% of power produced by new panels. In turn, investing in new panels means more solar power produced and a greater return on their investment.

Are Solar Panels Really Good for the Environment?

Even with all the hype surrounding solar panels, property owners might still wonder if they’re good for the environment. Especially, homeowners might question if they’re worth the investment! In truth, there are many reasons why an eco-conscious consumer might choose solar panels.

First, note that electricity is a “clean” energy source, but power plants creating that electricity produce lots of emissions! Choosing solar means reducing the emissions for which you’re responsible. Also, investing in solar often encourages neighbors to do the same. That “domino effect” can then mean a tremendous reduction in greenhouse gases.

Lastly, solar is a renewable energy source, meaning it doesn’t get “used up.” Using nonrenewable energy such as coal and oil deplete those materials. In turn, they will eventually run out! Harvesting these energy sources is also damaging to the environment, often involving blasting, fracking, and other harsh practices.

Along with these reasons to consider solar, note that installing and recycling panels are very labor-intensive jobs. Choosing solar then creates jobs, supporting your local economy. For all these reasons and more, consider solar an investment in the environment and your neighborhood!

high electricity bill before solar panels

Why Are My Electric Bills So High With Solar Panels?

After investing in solar, some homeowners question why their electric bills are still higher than expected. Others might wonder why they’re getting an electric bill at all!

First note that most residential homes use about 10,500 kWh of electricity annually. Second, consider that an average solar panel might produce about 500 to 550 kWh annually. In turn, it might take about 20 solar panels to produce all the power your family consumes every year.

However, rarely can a typical roof over a residential home manage all those panels! Additionally, homeowners need to balance their energy needs with their solar panel installation budget. Therefore, most families simply don’t buy enough panels to create all the power their home uses.

Also, remember that solar panels produce power based on sunlight exposure and not on your energy needs! In other words, using more electricity in the home doesn’t mean the panels will somehow produce more power. If you invest in solar and then upgrade to larger appliances or otherwise use more power, you might not see the reduction in utility costs that you expected.

Do I Need Batteries For My Solar Energy System in Winter?

Most residential solar energy systems work without batteries, using a net metering system. What is net metering?

  • First, homes with solar power still get their electricity from a local power company. How so? An installer connects those panels to your home’s wiring, sending power produced back to your utility company.
  • Next, the home’s electric meter tracks your energy consumption throughout the month. That meter also tracks power sent back to the utility company.
  • Lastly, your power company figures your energy usage costs and then credits you for solar power produced. So, if you use $100 of power but your panels produce $60 of power, you’ll get a bill for $40.

Net metering eliminates the need for a battery bank on your property. This process also ensures your home always has reliable power, even during wintertime, a rainy season, and at night!

Alliance Solar is happy to help answer the question, will solar panels work in winter? We hope you found this information helpful! If you’re ready to make the switch to clean, green solar power, call our solar panel installation contractors. We offer FREE consultations and flexible financing for qualified customers. To find out more, don’t hesitate to contact us today.


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