Does Climate Affect Solar?
If you are considering going solar but are wondering how the climate may impact your new system, this article is for you.
Solar is a proven economic energy solution in northern climates. Massachusetts and New Jersey were in the top ten states with solar installations in 2018. In 2019, the Solar Energy Industries Association (SEIA) ranked New York in the top ten states for solar installations. Solar panels are even used in Alaska and U.S. facilities like McMurdo Station in Antarctica. Your home doesn’t need to be in California, Arizona, or Florida to make the most out of solar. Solar panels clearly and consistently demonstrate that they can generate electricity in snow and extremely cold climates.
We’ve learned that solar panels thrive in colder temperatures, but what happens when it snows? Even when covered with snow, solar panels can generate electricity. Sunlight still reaches solar panels through snow and keeps solar cells producing energy. Solar panels’ dark, reflective glass accelerates snow melt and it slides off before it hampers performance. Installation racks are also typically tilted up at 30 to 45 degrees, which keeps snow from accumulating (to a point). A light dusting of snow is likely to blow off or disappear rapidly. In fact, on cold, clear days, snow from the ground can reflect extra sunlight onto your solar panels like a mirror. This “albedo effect” enables panels to produce even more electricity in the cold.
Much like Pacific Northwest winter climates, some places like Georgia, Texas, and Southern California experience a cooler rainy season. The sun still delivers daylight to solar panels through the rain and clouds. Although solar panels are most productive in direct sunlight, they can still use diffuse or indirect sunlight (radiation) to generate energy.
Rainy days and clouds cause diffuse light. But what’s the difference? Direct light is solar radiation traveling in a straight line from the sun down to the earth’s surface. Diffuse light is sunlight that has been scattered by particles in the atmosphere yet still reaches the earth. Thus, the amount of electricity generated is dependent on the density of cloud cover.
Though energy production decreases with increasingly dense cloud cover, panels continue working to a greater capacity than one may expect. Rain also helps wash away dust on panels to keep them operating efficiently.
Even in below-freezing weather, solar panels turn sunlight into electricity. That’s because solar panels absorb energy from our sun’s abundant light, not the sun’s heat. In fact, cold climates are actually optimal for solar panel efficiency So long as sunlight is hitting a solar panel, it will generate electricity. Coming into the cooler months, now is a great time to go solar. To claim your free custom report of the best quotes in your area, schedule a time to talk with a G3 team member today.