In countries like Canada, snow is a part of life. Although it’s a great time for winter sports like hockey, winter may not be the best time to manage solar panels. Thunderstorms, blizzards, ice storms, and high winds are typical in winter. If you are using an off-grid solar system, you might wonder how winter phenomena affect solar panels in Canada. Here, we will give you peace of mind by busting myths and misconceptions about your solar panels’ performance in winter.
How Winter Affects Solar Panels in Canada
Yes, winter can affect solar panels, but not as much as many people may think. There’s a misconception that solar panels stop functioning during snowy weather. Solar panels, in reality, can still do their job, even in the winter. It’s because solar panels convert sunlight (not heat) into electricity. So as long as there’s light reflected, they can still produce electricity.
If that is the case, what effect does Canada’s winter have on solar panels? In the winter, solar panels in Canada can still generate electricity, but there may be a decrease in output due to snow and shorter sunlight.
An interesting fact is that solar panels are more efficient in colder temperatures. It means that colder climates can help optimize your solar panels’ efficiency. In contrast, when the temperature gets too high, the efficiency of solar panels decreases. And because of that, some countries have installed sophisticated cooling systems to boost performance.
The winter months are usually a good time to install solar panels in Canada because the demand for them is the lowest. However, this doesn’t mean the panels themselves will be any cheaper. It’s crucial to learn the effect of cold weather on PV systems if you plan to mount your solar panels on the ground.
The Science Behind Solar Panels and Winter
It’s fascinating how solar panels perform better during the colder months. Even in the coldest places in Canada, a massive dent in the output is still quite a rare occurrence. A study shows that snow-clearing solar panels produce less electricity than clean panels. So, what’s the science behind this?
Solar panels have PV (photovoltaic) technology that can convert sunlight into electricity. Surprisingly, this light-capturing technology is more effective during the winter. Solar panels can catch more sunlight throughout the day thanks to the reflected sunrays off the snow—this albedo effect on solar panels causes higher energy output.
Also, remember that solar panels operate at temperatures higher than ambient. When sunlight penetrates the snow, even if some parts of the panels are covered, it can accelerate the melting process and generate electrons. Electrons in the silicon, on the other hand, will start activating. The movement of electrons within a battery generates electricity. They then travel to your home’s electric distribution box to power your appliances. The excess energy will stay in the system’s rechargeable solar batteries for later use.
Like most electronic devices, solar panels work best in cooler temperatures. According to research, a solar panel can reach its maximum performance in temperatures around 77 degrees Fahrenheit. Once the temperature rises above that peak temperature, solar panel performance decreases. Thankfully, solar panels are less likely to reach their peak power output in the winter because there’s no overheating from the hotter temperatures.
Solar Power Maintenance during the Winter in Canada
There are a few ways to maintain your solar panels in Canada. You can clean them with a soft brush if they’re on the ground or in an accessible location. Or tilt them upon installation so debris and snow can easily slide off. Also, you can adjust them to match the sun’s inclination during the winter for more efficiency. Experts advise reducing solar energy use during the winter or using traditional electricity.
Although it is possible to do some maintenance on your solar panels in Canada during the winter, we recommend that you get the help of experts because of the high potential physical risk and the system’s vulnerability.
Gridworks Energy Solar Installation in Canada
While solar panels are most productive in sunny seasons, that doesn’t mean they won’t be effective in the winter. Remember that the sunlight your solar panel receives annually is the most important. Solar energy is still a viable investment, even in polar regions. Choosing the right system and solar equipment will prepare you for possible winter weather problems.
If you are considering solar panel installation, be prepared for paperwork and bureaucratic hassle.
However, hiring a reputable solar installer can mitigate the problem. Gridworks Energy in Edmonton is a pioneering solar panel contractor that has delivered quality installations for over 20 years.
Our team of specialists will take care of every part of your solar project and will be there for you every step of the way. We offer solar installation anywhere in Edmonton, producing 100% renewable energy. Our system guarantees to help you get the most out of your solar power system despite the Western Canadian climate.
Schedule an examination today and see how simple and profitable going solar can be, no matter the season!