Solar Panel Systems in the Winter: Do They Still Work? Yes, They Do!

Josh Konner

The weather may be getting warmer, but it’s still winter, and snow is inevitable for many parts of the country.  Many people wonder if their solar panels still produce electricity during this cold time of year.  You might be surprised to learn that the performance of your solar system may not be significantly effected. In fact, many factors allow panels to thrive in snowy conditions. For starters, solar photovoltaic panels rely on light, and not temperature.  In fact, cold temperatures can improve performance over high temperatures. Below we answer some of the most commonly asked questions about how solar panels operate in the winter.

Does snow affect panels' performance and ability to create electricity?

Snow does block some light from reaching the photovoltaic cells, but light is typically still able to get through to the panels. The light entering snow is deflected through forward scattering and can move through the snow to bring light to the cells and thus still produce electricity. The power output delivered from a panel depends on the amount of irradiance that reaches the cells. Panels can still generate electricity when completely covered, just at a lower level. A similar phenomenon occurs when it is cloudy, and your solar panels will still produce electricity. The shorter winter days can have a greater effect on production due to reduced hours of sunlight.

Do I have to remove snow from panels?

Forget about shoveling snow off your solar panels. The tilt of the panels allows most snow to slide right off the glass surface. Panels usually face South to get the most direct sun, and the panel’s dark surface will retain heat better than white snow and assist in melting any accumulation. Melted snow also provides the added benefit of cleaning dust and debris off the panels.

Can panels withstand the weight of the snow?

Don’t worry about taking care of your solar system after a snowfall. The systems are designed and constructed to be able to withstand wintry conditions, and so no shoveling snow off is necessary. Also, the racking used to hold the panels in place is strong enough to withstand any additional weight that snow may provide.In the unlikely event that a snowstorm does damage your panels, contact our O&M team, MaxSolar, by clicking here or calling directly 1-844-MAX-SOLR. MaxSolar will be able to quickly resolve any issues that may arise and prevent potential problems from getting worse.