When living in the North, a place where it seasonally snows and the weather can be severe, the idea of installing solar panels can seem problematic. In fact, any region that seems to have more cloudy than sunny weather makes solar panels appear unproductive. The weather is a legitimate concern for solar panel owners, as it does affect what you’re getting out of it. After all, this is an investment that you made to profit from or to benefit the environment. If snow is all over your panels, or if it’s foggy or rainy out all the time, then it’s logical to suspect that your panels are not working as efficiently.
The Effects of the Weather on Your Solar Panels
It’s a fair assumption to make it common to ask how the weather will affect your solar panel performance. You would be right in your assumption, and you would be right if you followed that up with an assumption that there are answers to these questions.
In the south-east, a common question would be how hurricanes and stormy weather affects your panels. Most, if not all, manufacturers build their panels to endure high winds and rain. Those that serve hurricane regions will hurricane-proof your panels, as insurance companies will require it. As for the solar collection efficiency in this type of weather, solar panels still work in cloudy or rainy weather, depending on how bad the weather is. Although it won’t collect at 100% of its capacity during cloudy or rainy weather, it will collect about 10-90%, depending on how dense the cloud or rain cover is. Solar panels collect energy by using light to move electrons through certain materials, like silicon. So even though not all of the solar light is coming through, part of it still penetrates past the cloud cover, enough so that it can move electrons and put power into your home. Even if your solar panel is only collecting 10% during one cloudy day, the efficiency of the system throughout the whole year is what should be important. Even in usually cloudy or rainy areas like the UK, it is still possible to justify investing in solar panels.
Snow is naturally a big problem for solar panel owners closer to the poles during the winter. Having all that snow on your roof covering your panels doesn’t really make the most out of your energy collection. That said, most manufacturers that serve snowy regions account for this, much like manufacturers in hurricane regions. Solar panels built in snowy regions are designed to account for snow, and will melt it when the sun comes out (as some will be black or dark in color, to collect heat for this purpose), and obtain the most efficiency when the sky and the roof is clear. As stated previously, the efficiency of a whole year is more important than a single day of snow cover. More so, it is advised against clearing snow from your roof, as it not only endangers you, but adds the potential of damaging the panels, which will likely not be a part of your insurance policy.
How to Make Up for Lost Sunlight
It’s only fair that as a customer that you’d want to get the most out of your panels. While there might not be much you could do when inclement weather occurs, there is plenty you can do prior to installation or during. Placement is key, as not only does orientation and where on the roof affects exactly how much your panels collect, but how the weather will affect it. Since hail usually rains from the north, a south facing panel will have greater protection against hail. The type of panel you purchase will also affect your decision as well. Shop around for what’s best in your area. If it snows a lot where you live, make sure you get solar panels that work best in cool temperatures, since their efficiency will increase in the cool, open sky days following a snowstorm, making up for lost solar collection following the storm. Hotter areas could consider panels that are more efficient in heat to get the most out of the clear summer days in between hurricanes and major storms. Bob Heinmiller Solar can assist in questions and concerns, specifically for areas that experience tropical weather.
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