The short answer is yes!

It may be cold and snow is all around, but solar panels work in the winter season. However, since days are shorter during this time of year, their output is not the same during other seasons like the summer. For example, snow on your roof can cause solar panels to collect and convert less sunlight which affects electric output.

How do solar panels work?

Solar panels need sunlight in order to generate electricity. The photovoltaic (PV) cells catch light and electrons in the panel are put into motion creating current. This is then sent to your house’s distribution box to power appliances and lighting. Some homes have a rechargeable battery that can store power so that it can still provide electricity for your home at night.

How solar panels work during winter

Solar panels work the same way any season!

In different climates or temperatures, they capture the sun’s rays and convert them into electricity which in turn powers your home. This is the same process day in day out, no matter what the weather.

Solar panels can actually perform more efficiently in cold conditions.

The problem during winter season for solar panels is: shorter operating hours and accumulated snow which obscures panels and impacts production.

Daylight hours are shorter during the winter. You can expect approximately 10 hours of daylight in the winter depending on where you live in the United States. This is much less than the 16 hours of daylight received during the summer season.

Most people who buy solar panel kits install their panels on a slope which is advantageous because snow, rain and other debris slides down easily. But heavy snow storms can always pose a problem because snow can pile up faster on your solar panels than can slide down. Snow on solar panels can cause less electric generation and drive up your utility bill.

How to make solar panels work in the winter

Fortunately, there are easy ways for a homeowner to ensure that solar panels can still work in the winter efficiently. These tips can help improve energy production during the season and boost solar panel performance.

Energy Conservation

Reduced electricity bills and other financial benefits of solar panels start with the homeowner taking charge of energy conservation at home. A few of these are obvious but often forgotten in this day and age:

  • Turn off all lights and appliances when not in use.
  • Make sure that your home is properly insulated as poor insulation can cause heat to escape and make your solar panels to work harder.
  • Check air ducts for leaks and close dampers if your fireplace is not in use.
  • Exchange bulbs, light and lighting fixtures for energy efficient bulbs like LEDs.
  • Use thermal curtains to insulate windows.

Ideal Location and Angle

The Solar Energy Industries Association has the best practices in terms of installing arrays in your property. Homeowners should ask solar panel installers also follow these industry standards:

  • Position panels facing south in order to capture the maximum amount of sunlight.
  • South facing solar panels should be tilted between 30 to 40 degrees.

Peak temperature is usually at noon but the angle of the sun changes with each season.   This is why it is important to adjust solar array angles as seasons change to ensure maximum exposure to sunlight. The correct angle can improve solar panel performance in winter months and other seasons.

  • For spring tilt panels to your latitude.
  • For summer tilt panels to your latitude minus 15 degrees.
  • For fall tilt panels to your latitude.
  • For winter months tilt panels to your latitude plus 15 degrees.

Solar panels are designed to capture sunlight. Angling panels to face as close to the sun as possible will let them collect solar energy more efficiently while boosting PV performance in cold temperature or during the worst winters.

Consider Solar Battery For Storage

Your solar panels can produce energy even in low temperatures and cold climates. The problem with a solar paneled home is that they don’t produce energy when the sun is down. They also produce less energy when the panels are covered or when the sky is overcast. This is why you should consider using a solar battery for storing energy. Other benefits include:

  • Power when you need it, like during night time.
  • Energy security since you won’t be fully dependent on your local utility grid.
  • More environmentally friendly.
  • Lower electricity bill.

Scrape Off Excess Snow

Scraping off excess snow from your solar panels will uncover them and help them produce energy more efficiently and lower electricity cost. When temperatures are low, water can freeze on the panel and cover them. Solar panels are usually tilted at an angle. This will not only ensure that they capture maximum sunlight, it also makes it easier for snow on solar panels (or rainwater, ice and debris) to slide down.

Solar panels actually melt off snow during daytime when sunshine levels are high, so it doesn’t really accumulate during this time. However, during heavy snow storms snow can pile up high (even if you have snow guards) and have a hard time sliding down. Gentle scraping snow off with a soft brush will uncover panels so that the solar panel output can be maintained even while it’s snowing during winter weather.

Benefits of Solar Panel For Your Home

Are you looking to shift from the grid to solar for your home? Here are some of the best reasons to install solar panels now:

Solar is a greener alternative to fossil fuel, which is still being used by many countries around the world to power their electricity. Switching to solar cells can decrease carbon emissions generated by fossil fuel power plants. In 2020, the U.S. as a country only generates about 10% of energy from solar and wind sources. You can help battle climate change by boosting the production of green energy.

Solar panels can help earn you tax credit or rebates. Percentages differ but in some states in the U.S., you can get as much as 30% of the equipment and installation cost back when you file for federal income tax. So if you spent $25,000 for your solar cells, equipment and installation, you can get $7,500 back in tax rebates.

It’s no secret that the high cost in electricity is the number 1 reason why you should shift to solar energy – you can consider something like a 2000 watt solar power kit to get started. In many states even with competition, energy prices spike when demand is high. This means electricity bills are usually high during the summer when it’s hot and winter because it’s cold. Solar energy can help you save money starting on Day 1.

Wrap Up

Contrary to popular belief, solar panels work just as well during winter weather. In fact, the PV cells can actually convert sunlight into solar power more efficiently during this season. Studies also show that the cells can also catch sunlight that is reflected from the snow which adds to what they absorb during the day.

Solar panel installations are an efficient way to get electricity even during extreme weather conditions like heavy rain or snow storms when there are lower sunshine levels. If you’re thinking about making an investment in solar power, the winter months can be the best time to get quotes from installation companies as winter is usually a slow time for installers so make sure to leave your email address and phone number with them or visit their website for quotes.

Having solar panels will ensure that you have a good energy mix at home whatever the weather, by accessing a combination of renewable energy and your local grid. Winters can be brutal, especially for northern states in the U.S.

Marketplace data show that countries with warmer climates and cities like Los Angeles will definitely enjoy better solar production but areas with snow or with cloud cover can still enjoy the benefits of green electricity, which is why it is a good investment.

Always remember that solar panels work by converting the sun’s light –  not heat – into power. This is  why solar panels can still convert solar energy to power even during winter weather. Just remember to keep your solar panels uncovered so that it remains efficient throughout the day and you can experience and enjoy low energy costs during low temperature or snowfall.

Solar panel with snowy forest on clear winter day