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Do Solar Panels Work When Covered With Snow?

Feature image for "Do Solar Panels Work When Covered With Snow?", blue background with solar panel behind snow and a shovel

It’s no secret that solar panels work best when exposed to sunlight. But what happens during winter? Do solar panels work when covered with snow? Do they even work in the winter?

To cut straight to the point, yes, solar panels work absolutely well in the winter months. Although, you might experience a temporary reduction in solar production when your panels are covered in thick snow.

In this blog post, we’ll explore the effectiveness of solar panels in cold weather as well as take a closer look at how they work during winter and snow.

Do solar panels work in winter?

Contrary to popular belief, solar panels still work during winter weather.

For one, solar panels are designed to make use of sunlight; not heat. So, there really isn’t any negative effect on solar energy production during this season. If anything, the cooler temperature can even boost your solar panel performance.

Modern solar panels are rated to be at their best when it’s 15-35 Celsius. Any higher than that and they start to lose their efficiency.

Also, snow on solar panels generally doesn’t last long in most parts of Australia. So, while snowy winters might reduce your solar panel performance, it’s also temporary. Plus, snow is essentially a free cleaning service when it melts (as I will discuss later on).

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The science behind solar panels and cold temperatures.

As I previously mentioned, temperature has nothing to do with your solar panels’ energy generation capabilities. It does, however, affect how much energy you can get out of them.

Essentially, your solar panels generate electricity through the activity of electrons. These electrons are at rest without the presence of the sun’s rays. But, as soon as sunlight comes, these electrons start moving.

This movement is what produces power. The greater the difference between the electrons’ resting state versus its active state, the greater the amount of electricity generated.

Cooler temperatures slow down the activity of electrons at rest which, in turn, widens the difference between their resting and active state. This is why solar production is better during the winter months.

Recommended: How solar panels work

3 reasons why your solar panels will love the winter weather

1.Snow provides a free cleaning service for your solar panels

On top of amplifying energy production, the snow covering the solar panels provides a free cleaning service. As the snow melts, it carries the debris and dust accumulated on the panels, keeping them clean and efficient.

2.Snow acts as an insulator to solar cells

One factor that can impact the efficiency of solar cells is temperature; if the cells get too hot, they will not be able to convert sunlight into electricity as effectively. Snow is an excellent insulator that can help to prevent your solar cells from overheating, thus reducing possible damage to your solar panels. 

3. Colder temperatures boost electrical conductivity

The optimum temperature for a solar panel is between 15-35 Celsius. Anything above this range and the efficiency begins to decrease. The colder it gets, the more efficient solar panels are at generating power.

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FAQs:

Do Solar Panels Work On Cloudy Days?

Yes, solar panels generate power on cloudy days. However, their power output is relatively reduced compared to sunny days. 

Do Solar Panels Work At Night?

No, solar panels don’t work at night but you can still use solar energy if your system has a rechargeable solar battery. Another thing to consider is net metering which allows you to sell your excess solar energy to the power companies. This helps cut your electricity bills down to a fraction.

Should A Form Of Protection Be Installed On Solar Panels During Winter?

Installing snow guards is an option if you live in the few areas in Australia where there’s heavy snowfall during winter. Snow guards help to prevent accumulation by providing a barrier between the snow and the panel. As a result, they help to ensure that your solar panels continue to work effectively, even during the winter months.

Conclusion

It’s a common misconception that snowfall will impede the performance of solar panels, but that’s not necessarily the case. Solar panels can still produce energy when covered with snow. While the amount of energy produced may be reduced, solar panels will still generate some power as long as there is light available. 

So, do not let the winter weather discourage you from solar panel installations. Even if they don’t produce electricity at the same efficiency, you will still be saving a lot more money on a yearly basis.

Now, when you’re ready to take the next step, we have a network of pre-vetted installers to help you out. We trust them with our own systems, so we know they’re honest and skilled professionals. We can get you 3 FREE quotes from them right away.