Is solar energy only for hot, sunny locations? Definitely not! Solar panels can operate at their top performance level and provide clean energy even in colder, winter locations. In reality, solar is a smart choice pretty much anywhere, regardless of the weather.
Solar panels work with light not heat, and so they still capture sunlight and generate energy in colder temperatures. Cold weather can actually boost their performance since a system experiences less resistance and can generate more electricity in lower temperatures.
THE RIGHT KIND OF PANEL.
A key factor is the actual panel itself. Choosing a panel especially designed for colder regions can be a game changer. For example, Silfab solar panels are designed and engineered to withstand the cold and snow, having undergone thorough internal and external testing processes and industry recognized certification.
MANAGING THE IMPACT OF WINTER WEATHER.
A residential rooftop system will generate a bit less electricity in the winter due to the shorter days, but overall, on an annual basis the impact on the system may not be very significant. However, one issue that may pop up is that very heavy snow can put excess weight on the solar panels and stress the mounting points. Modules like those produced by Silfab are ideal because they’re specially designed to withstand heavy snow pressure (up to 5400 Pascal).
Given that most installers offer system maintenance as an option, including work that might need to happen in the winter, there’s usually little need for system owners to do it themselves. If the owner would like to do a little upkeep, soft snow can be gently removed using a soft bristle brush, and only if the system is safely accessible. Frozen snow or ice should never be removed from a module as it can cause damage to the panel. For example, Silfab panels have anti-reflective coated (ARC) glass for maximum performance and scraping the modules could scratch the ARC-glass and void the warranty.
Often the system owner can simply wait for sunlight to melt the snow. With a thin dusting of snow, panels still receive sunlight and produce electricity. In regions where heavy snowfall of two feet is atypical, the snow is likely to melt quickly. Sometimes the snow even cleans the panels a bit as it falls off. Silfab panels are dark in color, coated with ARC material and designed to absorb light and heat, so their higher-than-ambient temperature assists with the melting process. After some extreme snowstorms, the installer or another solar professional can safely clean the snow from the panels if desired.
PREPARING FOR THE SNOW AND THE COLD.
Before the actual system installation an expert installer will be able to recommend the ideal solutions based on the property’s roofline and the local climate. For example, they might recommend a system that allows them to adjust the panel angle to allow for better sunlight capture and a steeper incline so snow falls off more easily.
In the end, wintertime does not necessarily herald a significant loss in energy production. With the right steps around maintenance and prevention, it’s possible to keep a solar system operating at peak performance levels. And having the most suitable panels, such as those from Silfab Solar that are designed for maximum efficiency in North American climates, can go a long way toward a rooftop solar system that doesn’t let homeowners down in winter.
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