Solar Panels & Cold Climates: Do Winter Woes Like Snow Have an Impact?

Posted by Colin Gload on Mar 4, 2020 2:22:01 PM

When you envision a solar panel set-up, a snowy landscape in a northeastern city isn’t likely to be the first thing that comes to mind...but after this post, that could change.

solar panels during the winter

Would you believe it if we told you that panels actually perform just as well, and in some cases even better in cooler environments - and with little to no added extra maintenance?

In this post, we’re cutting through the outdated notion that panels are only suited to the warm and sunny south.

A solar panel installation and all of the benefits that come along with it could be just the thing to warm up your winter mood.

Cold Weather Improves Output

When it comes to solar energy production, it’s all about the rays - not the heat!

Warmer temperatures don’t actually do anything to increase the amount of power produced. In fact, the opposite has proven to be true. In most cases, once panels hit about 77 degrees Fahrenheit efficiency begins to decline.

There’s quite a bit of scientific jargon behind this, but we’ll keep it simple.

When it’s cool outside, the electrons in solar cells are just casually going about their business. When a photon strikes and kicks an electron out of an atom, the energy of the electron increases. This surge from low energy to high energy creates a strong current - and in turn more energy generation.

During warmer temperatures, the electrons are less “relaxed”, meaning less of a differential when the electron exits an atom. This results in a weaker current and decreased efficiency.

Does Snow Block Sunlight?

The average snow dusting is no match for a solar panels' sunlight absorbing capabilities.

Most of the time, when the shape of a roof allows, solar panels are installed at an angle. This means that more often than not, any snow accumulation will slide off on its own.

It’s rare for solar panel owners to have to partake in any additional maintenance unless there is a snowstorm, in which case it wouldn't hurt to carefully help some of the snow off of the panels.

In the United States, regulations require that panels be capable of holding between 20 and 40 pounds of snow weight per square foot.

So, if you’re working with a reputable vendor that prioritizes high-quality equipment, there’s typically no reason to be concerned with snow damage.

Snowy States Offer Some of the Best Incentives

There are all sorts of tax breaks and state-run monetary incentives throughout the country. Some of the best ones exist in northern, snowy states like Maryland.

Why? Well, because state governments in the northern part of the country are well aware of just how effective and beneficial solar panels are up here.

If you’re interested in learning more about some of the incentives, you can read more here.

At Lumina Solar, it’s our goal to ensure that those who are interested in going solar have access to information that’s accurate and easy to understand.

That’s why we’ve put together this FAQ guide.

Solar Panel FAQ