Unless your solar system is blocked by shade from trees or snow (which should be cut or cleaned), it will continue to absorb energy on any sunny day, even in winter.
Even light snow or ice won't be a problem, as sunlight can still pass through the solar panels. If you are going to clear the snow from your solar panels, make sure you use the right tool. A rough brush or rake can damage solar panels.
Instead, use a soft snow brush that cleans snow without scratching the surface of the panels. Once again, it's always a good idea to check with your provider to make sure you won't void the warranty. Solar panels can have a downside when it's really cold. A thick layer of snow will prevent the sun's rays from reaching the solar cells until they are removed.
Fortunately, a small amount should melt and peel off the smooth surface as it heats up. Solar panels tend to be tilted toward the sun, and snow doesn't stick together like it would with other materials. If you live outside of the sunny Southwest, the weather can cause sudden changes this time of year. Many parts of the country have already seen snow, and the polar vortex has extended far enough to the south that even our country's capital has suffered a few chills.
Although at first glance it may seem that solar energy is ideal for summer, photovoltaic (PV) solar panels actually produce useful energy during all four seasons. Addressing climate-related challenges is one of the reasons why the SunShot Initiative funds regional test centers, where you can test the performance of solar panels in a wide variety of climates. Researchers at test centers have shown that solar energy can still successfully generate electricity in snowy areas and other harsh environments. In fact, New York, Massachusetts, and New Jersey are among the top ten states in the country when it comes to solar panel installations.
Although solar panels tend to withstand the weight of the heaviest snowfalls, the level of production can decrease if too much snow accumulates. Many solar panels are installed with large frames around the edge, which can cause more snow to accumulate. Solar panels are made up of photovoltaic (PV) cells, which are special units that are usually made of silicon. Solar panels convert sunlight into electricity, and as long as the sunlight falls on the panels, it doesn't matter how hot or cold it is.
In winter, solar panels are less likely to reach their maximum temperature, so they are more likely to operate at maximum efficiency in colder climates. Whether you live in a state with full sun all year round or you have snowy winters, solar panels can help you save money and be more energy independent. Even in a much colder climate like that of Canada, the Northern Alberta Institute of Technology found that solar panels that had their snow removed produced only 1% to 5% more than those that were not maintained. Solar panels are designed to generate electricity from the sun, so it's natural to assume that solar panels only work in sunny locations, leading Americans living in parts of the country where there are snowy winters to think that solar panels aren't a worthwhile investment.
So how does snow affect solar panels? Are they useless during the winter? We answer those questions, and more, below. As a result, you may want to adjust the angle of your solar panels to get the most out of them during the winter. While it is true that the energy production of solar panels peaks when exposed to direct sunlight and UV rays, temperature does not play an important role in the overall performance of the solar panel. The winter months can also be the best time to install solar panels for home or business owners from an economic standpoint.