How Do Solar Panels Work In The Winter?

Last Updated on January 10, 2024 by Kimberly Crawford

Solar panels work more efficiently in the winter due to a lower voltage drop. More power can be delivered when temperatures drop because the wire’s resistance decreases with temperature.

Solar panels generate electricity when sunlight photon particles hit the solar panel photovoltaic cells, which activate the electrons. The faster movement of electrons produces more energy. Within the cell, this energy is transformed into usable electric current.

Solar power is determined by the difference between moving electrons and resting electrons. In winter and cold weather, resting electrons have less energy, so when the sunlight activates them, that difference is larger and the energy output is higher.

Temperature and solar panels: The science

Do solar panels work in the winter? It’s a common question before solar panel installation in cold-weather states. Solar panels produce electricity even in colder temperatures because solar cells capture energy from sunlight, not the sun’s heat.

Following that, the electricity is changed from direct current (DC) to alternating current (AC) and either sent into the power grid or preserved in battery packs for further use. Solar power systems will produce electricity as long as sunlight is activating the electrons.

Solar panels are less likely to operate at their maximum temperature or power during the winter. Solar panel efficiency declines after it exceeds that peak temperature. According to studies, solar panels begin to reduce efficiency above 77ยบ F. The additional daylight hours throughout the summer and spring seasons make up for this decreased efficiency.

Shorter winter days and solar output

There is no doubt that compared to the summer, the daylight available on any given day is significantly less in the winter. But it does not stop solar panels from generating electricity. Although this decreases the time that solar panels are operating at maximum efficiency, the amount of sunlight available in the majority of places makes it worthwhile.

It’s more crucial to consider how much solar panels will receive annually as a whole than how much direct sunlight solar panels will receive on any individual day.

Is Solar Energy Production Worth It in Cold Weather?

It’s important to know of solar panels during the winter as an investment that will help to lower annual energy use. Despite the possibility that solar panels might operate with lower efficiency throughout the winter because of bad weather and limited sunshine, there is still a considerable demand for solar panel installation and the solar industry is expanding.

Solar panels work in the winter and require little maintenance. Snow typically slides off solar panel surfaces more quickly than it does the rest of the roof. Solar professionals advise being patient and allowing the snow to naturally melt and glide off the solar panels.

The amount of electricity generated by solar panels during winter weather is lower due to certain factors.

Reduced Sunlight

The amount of sunlight that can be utilized to generate power by the solar panels is reduced throughout the winter months due to shorter sunny days and a lower sun angle.

The angle of the sun varies throughout the year, and it is lower in the sky during the winter. As a result, more atmosphere must be crossed by the sun’s rays before they can reach the solar panel, potentially lowering the quantity of energy produced by solar radiation.

Cold Temperatures

Even though solar panels tend to work well in cooler temperatures, they can still lose efficiency in severely cold conditions. Heavy snow and ice buildup on the panels during periods of freezing weather can restrict sunlight and lower energy output.

However, most solar panels are made to survive extreme weather conditions and snow can frequently flake off the panels because of their installation.

Cloud Cover

Cloud density also affects solar cells’ energy output. The solar panels will receive less sunlight as the cloud density increases. Even on days that are not quite sunny and clear, solar cells will nevertheless manage to generate a significant amount of electricity. This is because solar cells can use both direct sunlight and diffuse light to produce energy.

Maximizing solar panels efficiency

Take the following actions to maximize the production of solar power throughout the winter:

Regular panel cleaning

Regularly clean your solar panels since accumulations of snow, ice, and debris can obstruct sunlight and lower the installed solar capacity. Regular panel cleaning can help your system to work in the winter.

A snow rake or soft-bristled broom might help you clear snow from the solar panels without harming them if you live in a region with heavy snowfall.

Tilt your panels

As the sun is lower in the sky during the winter, tilting your solar panels might help them absorb more light. Snow will naturally not accumulate if rooftop solar energy systems are installed with their south-facing panels tilted 30-45 degrees. To get the ideal tilt for your site, speak with a solar expert.

tilt your panels

Battery backup

Energy storage might be a useful contribution to your solar systems during the winter because the days are shorter and the sun is lower. In order to use it at night when renewable energy production is limited, a battery backup can retain extra solar energy throughout the day.

Monitor your system

During the winter, check your solar energy production and make any necessary adjustments to your system. Talk to a solar consultant if you detect any noticeable drops in solar energy output.

Hybrid Systems

In the winter when solar power generation is low, hybrid systems that employ both wind and solar to produce energy might be a great alternative for generating electricity.

hybrid solar panel systems

Install solar panels without frames

Although heavy snowfall is typically no problem for solar panels, if too much snow accumulates, productivity may suffer. Since the bulk of snow may slide off or be removed with ease, solar panels are constructed at an angle to maximize the intake of the sun’s Ultraviolet rays. This helps to minimize snow buildup.

Large frames built around the edges of many solar panels can cause more snow to accumulate. A solar system without frames can be worth installing if you reside in a region with frequent snowfall.