How Winter Affects Solar Panel Performance
Shorter days, lower production
December 21st marks Winter Solstice, the shortest day of the year, and thus the most challenging season for solar energy production. Shorter days, cloudy skies, and snow-covered panels can all reduce your array’s effectiveness.
Winter can be good for energy production
Contrary to popular belief, however, solar panels do not always perform better on hot summer days - heat can actually impede energy production. Like most electronics, panels function better when it’s cool, so in that way, winter temperatures can assist energy output. But since summer days are longer, panels usually produce more power in summer.
Another hidden bonus is that snow is bright. When snow reflects light onto solar panels, the additional light exposure will improve PV production.
How to deal with snow
That said, if your panels are covered with snow, production will be blocked. As long as they are tilted at an angle, however, the snow will slide off. And it only takes one small corner of sun exposure to induce melting. If you want to speed up the process, you might consider a snow rake designed for solar panels (so it won’t damage them). We do not advise climbing on your roof to clean snow off - the risk of injury isn’t worth a few kWh!
Snow sliding off of your panels may present a danger to your yard. Snow clips are a handy accessory that can prevent damage by slowing down those mini-avalanches. Now is a great time to have some installed if you haven’t already - contact us to get more information.
Solar still makes sense in winter
The higher your electricity rates, the more money you will save by going solar. Since the Northeast uses more electricity during the short winter days, and since our electricity rates are some of the highest in the country, solar customers in this region stand to save more during the winter.
In addition, winter is a great time to shop for solar since there is less competition for installs. If you haven’t taken the plunge, contact us now to get your free site assessment underway!
In short, if your Enphase system is showing lower production this month or next, don’t fret. That is normal for this time of year, and as we approach spring and the days get longer, you’ll see your solar production begin to improve again.