Did you know that even when solar panels are completely covered with snow, they can still generate electricity? That’s right — solar power is a year-round energy solution and not just ideal for fair weather locations. It’s a common myth that solar panels do not work in the winter…When in fact, according to EnergySage, the cold temperature will typically improve solar panel output (electronics function more efficiently in cold conditions than hot), while the white snow around the array can actually reflect light and help improve PV production.
We know this because of the SunShot Initiative and all of the regional testing they conduct on solar panel performance. The tests found that even with heavy snow, once the snow started to slide, even if only partially exposing the panel, solar power production could resume again. (Did you know that in snowy months, we have solar technicians standing by to make sure snow is cleared from panels to ensure maximum array productivity?!)
Pictured: Within hours after a recent snowfall at one of our Colorado arrays, snow has already melted off the panels.
- The top 10 cities for solar in the U.S. aren’t the sunniest ones. The Solar Energy Industries Association (SEIA) ranks Massachusetts, New Jersey, and New York in the top 10 for states with the highest amount of installed solar in 2014, with large percentages of solar installations coming during winter weather months.
- Heavy snow can limit solar panel output, but light is still able to move through the snow, and forward scattering brings more light to the solar cells than one might expect.
- Germany, with sunshine levels similar to Alaska, has led the world in solar panel installations for more than a decade.
So, don’t let winter weather discourage you from going solar! To read more about solar panel performance in snowy weather, read a great blog post from the U.S. Department of Energy here.