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Why Your Panels Are Still Efficient During Solar Winter

Technological innovations continue to drive efficiency in solar panels, resulting in more energy being produced at a lower cost for the system compared to a decade ago. However, other factors also impact how efficient a solar array can be, including where it is placed on a property, the angle of the sunlight it receives, and even what time of year or day it is. Many people assume that summer is the best time to take advantage of solar panels, because the continuous sunlight for the extended hours of the day produces energy consistently.

In reality, solar winter is also a valuable time in which your panels can truly maximize their production, often matching efficiency compared to the warmer months. Here’s what you need to know about how your panels can be efficient during solar winter based on the science behind solar arrays, as well as other ways you can boost your panels’ performance.

close up surface of a house roof covered with solar panels in winter with snow on top

Measuring Solar Panel Efficiency

When discussing solar panel efficiency, what scientists and professionals are referring to is how hard your solar panels need to work compared to how much energy they produce for their size—or, in other words, how well the panels turn sunlight into energy. If a solar array receives a lot of direct sunlight but does not produce much energy, the panels are not very efficient. However, if a small panel can make a lot of energy from a little sunlight, it’s highly efficient.

Highly efficient solar panels typically convert about 20% of the sunlight they receive directly to energy. While research is still ongoing to boost this number (with some potential solutions bringing efficiency to 50% or greater using new technologies), 20% is more than enough for the average household to completely replace their utility bill with solar power.

Why Solar Winter Can Be Still Be Efficient

Solar panel efficiency describes how much energy panels produce and how effectively they do so. It may come as a surprise that efficient solar performance does happen during the winter despite sunlight hours being shorter, and the temperature being colder. However, it’s because of those decreased temperatures that your panels can perform efficiently.

In order to create energy, solar panels rely on electrons within the panel. When those electrons are activated by sunlight, they create voltage that is captured by the system and directed to your home’s grid or a battery for later use. Winter is a great time for this process, because when the electrons on the solar panels are cold, they are resting with less energy. Then, when the sunlight hits them, this high energy activation agitates them more aggressively thanks to the bigger difference between hot and cold temperatures.

Other Ways to Improve Energy Efficiency

While operating solar panels in the cold is one way to achieve more efficient usage, it’s not the only thing you can do to boost how well your array performs. Expert installers will set you up for success from the beginning, including where you place the panels and how they are oriented. This strategic approach ensures that the panels receive the maximum sunlight each day without obstruction.

Additionally, it is important to keep solar panels clean. If dust, leaves, and other debris collect on the panel surface, the electrons cannot receive necessary energy from the sunlight, and they will not be able to convert the light to voltage for the system. Homeowners and businesses can also opt for high-efficiency panels to maximize how much energy they produce. Be sure to monitor the system for issues so that they can be addressed quickly, before they can impact the array’s performance.

For those choosing to utilize a battery to store excess energy during the day, consider the financial incentives available in your area (such as net metering) to sell extra electricity when you produce too much. By doing so, some homes can achieve a balance of earning credits during peak hours and then relying on banked battery power overnight, when the sun goes down.

Achieve Quality Solar Installation with Ipsun Solar

Whether you are still deciding on solar panels or simply wonder whether they are worth it all year round, be confident that winter is actually a great time to have a solar array. However, you need to select a trustworthy local installer for the best results. The Amicus Solar Cooperative is home to installers who take their solar work seriously and are committed to remaining on the cutting edge of new developments in the industry guiding them to becoming B Corp certified.

The experts at Ipsun Solar are B Corp certified installers who are proud to make a difference in our community and help you achieve an honest, reliable understanding of how solar can change your home.

Get a free solar power estimate to lower your utility bill with Ipsun Solar.

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