Do Solar Panels Still Function in the Winter?

During the summertime, solar can power your entire facility. But what will happen when the days get shorter and temperatures drop? Do solar panels still function in the winter?

The answer is yes, solar panels function during the winter. Converting sunlight to electricity actually works better in colder temperatures, meaning solar panels often improve in efficiency during the winter months. Most residential homes will see some reduction in total power generation due to fewer daylight hours or excess cloud cover, but increased efficiency helps minimize this.

Does Snow Affect My Solar Panels?
Besides the cold, there are other worthwhile questions about solar panels in the winter. What happens when it snows? Will I get enough production? Some companies in northern climates may wonder about solar panel performance during snowy conditions. Still, it’s not as big a concern as some might think. Truth is that: even when covered with snow, they can still generate electricity.

While snow may reduce sunlight penetration, it doesn’t necessarily prevent solar panels from working. Sunlight can still navigate through snow and reach your panels to produce more electricity than anticipated. The solar cells in your system keep producing electricity, meanwhile, the dark glass of solar panels accelerates the snow’s ability to melt and slide off before it hinders performance. Additionally, a light dusting of snow is likely to blow away or disappear quickly.

In the event your system does not resume production after all snow has completely melted off the panels or your inverter continues to display an error code, notify Customer Service via email for further instructions.

Then there’s the albedo effect on your solar panel array. On cold, clear days when there’s a brilliant carpet of snow, the smooth white surface of snow reflects light, like a mirror back onto solar panels. Known as the albedo effect, this phenomenon allows solar panels to generate even more electricity in the cold.

Pros and Cons of Solar Panels in the Winter
While solar panel efficiency and energy production potential are typically enhanced by cold temperatures, there are a few cons to discuss. For example, power generation of solar panels does decrease in winter months, primarily due to the odd heavy snowfall, along with the unavoidable shorter days of the winter months.

Here are a couple of advantages and disadvantages to help explain solar panel behavior in cold weather.


Pros +

Cons -

Solar panels generate electricity from the sun’s light, rather than the sun’s heat. 

The amount of electricity generated during winter is less dependent than summer, potentially increasing grid energy use. 

Cold temperatures improve energy production efficiency, increasing the daily amount of electricity produced despite less daylight hours. 

It’s important to install additional durable solar panels rated to handle the weight loads from heavy snow, which could increase cost. 

Sunlight can still navigate to the solar panels through lighter snow cover and maintain power generation. 

You may need to clear heavy snow if it fully covers the panels and blocks the transmission of all sunlight. 

Solar panels are installed at an angle that allows most snow to slide off and let the sunshine in, boosting your peace of mind. 

Shorter winter days, snow cover, clouds and a lower slope of the sun all reduce the amount of sunlight solar panels can harvest. 

Many cities and states in northern regions with cold climates are instituting highly favorable incentives to install solar power. 



Solar Energy A Bright Idea In The Winter Months
Sunlight is our most ample renewable resource and solar panels are the most effective way to generate renewable energy in northern regions during the winter—and across the country, all year round. Minor issues like snow blockage and cloudy skies don’t count significantly over the long-term. The time for solar is now.

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