Solar Panels: Can They Be Bothered by the Cold?

solar panels on the snow covered roof

It’s normal to assume that solar panels aren’t suitable for colder climates. After all, they’re at their best at around 77 degrees Fahrenheit, so naturally, it may seem as though they depend on heat from the sun as a source of energy. Unbeknownst to many homeowners, this isn’t the case.


How Heat Affects Solar Panels


As a matter of fact, the weather condition that hinders solar panels the most is excessive heat. Yet, quality solar panels can withstand a certain amount of heat; the Standard Test Conditions establish a baseline to measure the quality of each solar panel against one another. One thing that’s tested is the highest temperature at which a solar panel can perform.


As stated above, the optimal temperature for a solar panel is around 77 degrees Fahrenheit. However, when a solar panel surpasses that temperature by twice the degrees or more, it begins to overheat, which decreases its efficiency and longevity. So naturally, solar panels perform better in cooler climates. But what happens when a solar panel exceeds its heat limit?


How the Cold Affects Solar Panels


This is where the weather comes into play. Solar panels often cool down during rain or by absorbing water molecules in the air. And when it comes to the cold, they’re often designed to withstand the weight of snow and produce more energy in colder climates.


In Canada, for instance – a country that experiences snowfall frequently – solar installation for residential is on the rise. There, solar panels are installed so that snow can slide off the panels to prevent buildup. But while buildup can block sunlight absorption, it’s well known to them that snow can help solar panels absorb light.


This may come as a surprise, but even in cold, cloudy regions, solar panels don’t necessarily need direct sunlight in order to function. Of course, they’re most effective in direct sunlight, but they’re advanced enough that they can absorb photons in the atmosphere.


They’ll also benefit from the effects of the weather while continuing to create electricity. With snow, the white color reflects sunlight, which is absorbed by nearby solar panels. Of course, it’s only possible with sunlight present at some point during the day, and snow may need to be removed habitually so that it doesn’t completely cover the panels.


Ways To Manage Solar Panels During Extreme Weather Conditions


Durable solar panels aren’t exclusive to Canada: you can find bendable panels, foldable panels, waterproof panels, panels with built-in kickstands, and much more. And even if you don’t have the most expensive solar setup – or live in a region that’s routinely cloudy – there are a few ways to preserve your panels so that they remain at optimal performance.


Conserve Energy


In cloudy weather, less solar power will be generated, depending on how long they last and the density of the clouds. To combat this, your PV system can be equipped with battery storage. With this, you get around-the-clock power and a place to store your energy for when you need it the most. Plus, batteries can be professionally installed in tandem with any new panels.


Choose Quality


As you know, different weather conditions can affect the way in which solar panels function. Fortunately, they’re crafted and tested to hold up against weather, though some are better than others. When all else is taken care of, sometimes the quality itself is the cause of your panel’s low output or mechanical failures. Consider investing in panels that are resistant to inclement weather in your region.


Use Special Maintenance Tools


A clean solar panel is a more functional solar panel. Dirt, bird droppings, and debris can be cleaned with pure water or non-abrasive cleaning solutions. For snow, use a snow rake tool and gently remove snow around the panels. Don’t have a ladder? Use an extendable pole and a soft object and gently remove any grime and debris to prevent scratching.


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