If you’ve installed solar panels for your home, one concern may be the efficiency of your array and how much power it can generate during the cold winter months. It makes sense to assume that you will get the most from your system during long summer days and less during the shorter, darker winter days.
The amount of peak sunlight your solar panels receive certainly impacts how much power your system can generate. But that doesn’t mean the right solar setup can’t power your home throughout the entire year.
Here are the steps you can take to prepare your PV panels to work efficiently through the winter and help keep the lights on when the days are short.
Do Solar Panels Work in Winter?
A common misconception is that solar power can’t provide electricity at night or during the winter months. In reality, PV panels work well in winter as long as they are exposed to direct sunlight for several hours during the day. Photovoltaic renewable energy systems work because you store power in solar batteries during peak sunlight hours to distribute around the clock. The PV panels capture sunlight during the day, and a portable power station or solar generator converts that energy to electricity and stores it for later use.
In fact, according to the latest renewable energy report from the Solar Energy Industries Association, several cold weather states, including New York, Michigan, and New Jersey, ranked in the top 15 states for new solar installations in the United States during the first quarter of 2022. Renewable energy installations make sense even during brutally cold winters. They can offset rising energy costs and reduce reliance on the aging electrical grid for homeowners looking to become more energy-independent.
For fixed arrays using rigid solar panels, getting the installation right is a critical part of maximizing the capacity of your system. The array should be oriented to take maximum advantage of the available sunlight—not just in the summer months but year-round.
Do Solar Panels Produce Less Energy During Winter Months?
The more direct sunlight photovoltaic panels receive, the more electricity they can generate to power homes and businesses. Reduced daylight hours will impact the amount of power your solar system can generate.
That said, panels are usually more efficient when colder, which can help offset the impact of reduced sunlight on your panels’ energy production during the winter months vs. the summer.
You don’t need a full day of sunlight for solar power to operate effectively. For solar panels to work well, you typically need at least four hours of direct, peak sunlight. Even on the shortest day of the year, you can usually get this much sunlight for your PV array throughout the United States.
Tips for Preparing Your Solar Panels for Winter
An effective installation should position you well to capture the sunlight you need to produce sufficient electricity for your home, but winter can still present some challenges. You need to do your part to ensure winter doesn’t negatively impact your energy independence.
Following the steps below can help keep the lights on and give you peace of mind for your winter energy needs.
Keep Solar Panels Clear of Snow
Be proactive about clearing any snow from the surface of your solar panels. When snow covers your solar panels, their ability to capture sunlight is diminished. If a snowfall buries your panels, sweep them off to clear them. In the process, you’ll clean the panels and make them even more efficient.
Adjust the Angles if Not Fixed
If your solar panels are adjustable, you can pivot them to capture more light. With portable solar panels, you can move the entire array into position at the optimal orientation as often as you’d like.
If your solar panels are fixed, a professional installation takes into account your area’s needs during the winter months. Don’t try to detach them just to capture a little more light.
Maintain and Insulate Backup Batteries
Any solar power system should include backup batteries to store power for days with minimal sunlight. During the winter, those batteries should be ready to kick in if needed.
Winterizing your solar system means ensuring your solar generator’s battery is fully charged as often as possible and well-insulated.
You don’t have to do a lot. For example, backup batteries in the EcoFlow Power Kits have an operating temperature between -13 degrees F and 140 degrees F. The batteries have a broad temperature range, but you can still protect them against extremes.
As an additional backup in case of prolonged periods without sunlight, a Smart Generator (Dual Fuel) will kick in automatically if your DELTA Max or Pro runs too low.
The winter months don’t need to prevent you from using solar power as long as you have sufficient solar panels and battery storage capacity.
EcoFlow provides both durable, efficient solar panels and backup power solutions to help you maximize your winter readiness and create a winter-ready Smart Home Ecosystem.
Prepare yourself and your solar system for the winter months to access clean, renewable energy year-round.