Can Cold Weather Impact Residential Solar Energy Systems?
Residential solar energy systems rely on ample amounts of sunlight to create power for a home. However, as indicated in previous posts on this website, these panels can still be extremely beneficial, even in areas that do not receive as much sunlight as other areas. Winter weather conditions are another factor that many people worry about when they are thinking about the potential efficacy of installing solar panels.
All solar panels create power based on the light that they collect, rather than the heat that surrounds them. However, the shorter days and less sunlight in the winter mean that most panels create less power in the winter than in the summer. In addition, snow can collect on the panels, which will prevent them from getting the sunlight that they need, but when the snow melts or as soon as it is brushed off the panels, they will resume their normal functioning.
Ideally, most panels will work regardless of outside temperatures. However, the temperatures do have a certain degree of effect on the panels. Hotter temperatures can even have an effect on the output of the panels. For instance, a study done in the UK indicated that as temperature increased from 30 to 42 degrees Celsius (86 to 107 degrees Fahrenheit) that the power output created by the panels dropped slightly from 749 mW to 730 mW. Cold temperatures, ironically, do not have the same effect on panels. Because cold temps can have a slight effect on panels, some scientists are looking at ways that the panels can be changed for better cold weather functioning. For instance, the panels that are attached to the International Space Station have two faces. These allow them to work more efficiently in colder temps than their one-sided counterparts.
However, consumers do not need to worry about how cold temperatures impact the power output of the panels. Rather, they should consider how the cold temperatures in their areas may impact the solar panels themselves. Very low temperatures carry a risk that the charge controller or the inverter can be damaged. To ensure that residential solar energy systems can handle all of the possible temperatures and weather conditions in your particular area, you may wish to speak with a Burnham consultant who can guide you toward the right research that you need to make the best decision for your home energy needs.