How Does Winter Affect Your Solar Panel?
Feb 21, 2023
A lot of consumers are reluctant to purchase and install solar panels in the winter time. Many people worry that solar panels have won’t be able to produce enough energy to meet their consumption needs. While we are not in the business of making large scale permanent solar panels, our customers are just as concerned about our portable solar panels. Is it even worth it to use them in the wintery months?
The answer is yes—and no—but mostly yes!
It all boils down to a couple of factors: daylight hours, temperature, and snow fall.
This directly ties into where you are located on this planet. The closer you live to the equator, the more consistent your daylight hours will be. By daylight hours, we mean how long the sun is in the sky for; morning, noon, and evening. The closer you live to the poles; daily light hours will be stratified according to the season. Extreme northern and southern locations will have endless days of summer which will give large stretches of day light. But with that, comes the heavy price to pay in the winter. Everyone who lives close enough to the poles will experience the phenomenon known as “the polar night” or if you are a Game of Thrones fan, “The Long Night”. The polar night is when the sun sets for the last time of the season and won’t resurface due to the angle of the planet in relation to the sun. It is perpetual night for everyone.
Why does daylight hours matter? It matters because that’s the only time your solar panel can consumer energy. Your solar panel generates energy by collecting UV rays produced by the sun, so if you live in the far north or far south, using a portable solar panel may be problematic.
For most of the planet, this isn’t a problem, but crafty mother nature has another trick up her sleeve: overcast days. Overcast days means the entire sky is covered in a thick layer of clouds, creating diffused light instead of direct sunlight. To many, that raises concerns about their solar panel’s abilities generate energy. Thankfully, our solar panels are able to function well in diffused light. Is it going to be the same as direct sunlight? No. But you will still be able to get the UV rays you need to keep your energy sources powered. It will just take a little bit longer to reach full charge.
This may come as a bit of a surprise to you, but solar panels actually absorb the most energy in cooler environments. In fact, solar panels that are primarily used in cooler environments absorb much more energy than solar panels located in hotter climates. Does that mean your solar panel is doing better than all those solar panels located in the dessert? If its summer time, the answer is a big fat YES.
Like the rest of your electronics, solar panels don’t like to work in the heat because it stresses out all the components it takes to collect the UV rays. Heat doesn’t play a factor in the quality of UV rays at all, so there really is no advantage to leaving your portable solar panel out in the hot weather as opposed to the cold.
Snow fall is tricky and unique to the region you reside in. Some areas have heavy snow storms that unload large amounts of snow, and others will give a light sprinkle. If you live in a region with light sprinkles, you are in luck. Solar panels can still absorb UV rays when it is covered with a thin layer of snow. That’s because light still travels through water, even when its frozen. Plus, if you have the added bonus of a windy day, the winds will likely blow off the snow and your panel will be cleared off quickly.
Does that mean that people in heavy snow regions are doomed to go without a solar panel? Not necessarily? Solar panels are built to stand at an angle. Unlike a flat table or a flat roof where snow has no where to go, the 45 degree angle encourages the snow to slide right off the surface. While all snow heavy snow storms have the capability of dumping several feet of snow, if you put your solar panel in the right place, you can easily outwit mother nature.
While your solar panel won’t perform was well as it would in the spring and summer, don’t write it off for the winter time. Remember, cooler temperatures help your panels perform better. Place your panels in a spot without any shade, and don’t be afraid of light sprinklings of snow. Lastly, remember that our solar panels are water proof, but the connector box on the back is not. So, if you know you’ve got a heavy snow or rain storm coming in, be sure to grab your panels and tuck them inside safely to keep dry.