Much of Wisconsin saw its first snowfall earlier than normal this year. Some areas, like Green Bay, broke record snowfalls originally set in 1889. While it may not have been on any of our radars yet, winter is surely coming. This wonderfully white and cold time of year can leave many homeowners with solar, or who are considering solar, feeling unsure about the performance of their system.
How will my solar panels perform in the winter temperatures?
One common misconception is that panels do not work or work poorly during the winter season. The opposite is actually true. Colder temperatures will increase a panel’s efficiency. This is because solar panels use the sun’s light, not the sun’s heat, to produce electricity. Heat is a natural byproduct of energy conversion. On hot days, panels can overheat and produce less electricity. This means that as long as the sun is shining, the dropping temperatures will not affect your system’s output.
How will snowfall affect my solar panels?
Now that pesky, four-letter precipitation-who-must-not-be-named can be a slightly different story. The panels use sunlight to create electricity. So, if a panel is covered in snow it cannot absorb the photons needed to break those electrons away from their atoms; which means electricity production is minimal or non-existent. But fear not! There is no need to make the risky trek to your rooftop to clean off panels. Solar panels are installed at an angle, which makes them pretty self-sufficient for snow removal. In most cases, the panels will still warm up enough in sunlight for the snow to slowly slide off over time. The use of microinverters makes it possible for one panel in a string to be covered while the rest of the string produces electricity unaffected. Also, there are panels on the market today that allow for an unobstructed portion of the panel to produce even if there is a percentage covered by snow or shading.
Another factor to consider is albedo, how well a surface reflects light. Snow has a high albedo. If you have ever been blinded by a sunrise across a field blanketed in a fresh snow, you have experienced snow’s albedo first-hand! The reflectance of snow is important for solar panels. Light can be reflected back on to a panel, increasing its production. One of our customers saw an increase of 8% due to the albedo factor on his ground mount system located in Mequon.
How can I make sure my system is performing optimally in the winter?
Easy! By choosing Arch Electric from start to finish on your project. Arch Electric was born and raised in this sunny, and sometimes frigid, state we call home. We are a vertically integrated company. This means that OUR Solar Experience Consultants, OUR Designers, and OUR installation crews are all working for YOU. Ensuring that you have the best sized, designed, and installed system around. It also means if you have questions on if your system is performing as it should, you only need to make one phone call. We will send one of our technicians your way while you get to stay in the warmth and comfort of your home. (Cocoa is appreciated, though not mandatory.) So, what are you waiting for? Winter is coming!