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Solar power is an excellent option for many people in Australia. The sun shines pretty much every day and means that you can get renewable energy without having to worry about wind, snow or rain. This is why so many homeowners have decided to invest in solar panels. However, what happens when winter comes along? Does solar work through winter? Read on to find out more.
How do solar panels and temperature work?
Even in below zero temperatures, solar power systems will still collect sunlight. This is because the panels are a semiconductor that absorbs photons and creates an electric field. In fact, cold climates can actually be better for the solar panels, as snow reflects light and helps to keep them warm.
It is important to note that temperature affects battery storage. In cold weather, batteries will not be able to retain their charge unless they are kept somewhere warmer. However, if you live in an area where temperatures usually stay above 0 degrees Celsius, then it is unlikely to be a problem.
In areas where it gets extremely cold, you would need to look at other alternatives such as heating elements or even having your system wired indirectly with the main home electrical supply. It is best to consult an electrician for advice on which option will work best for you.
Performance of Solar Panels in Cold Weather
Believe it or not but solar panels actually work better in cold weather! On a day when it is hot, you may not get as much energy from your solar cells as they will have to work harder. In colder conditions, the opposite occurs; the Sun’s temperature is warmer, therefore, giving out more energy.
The same principle applies to wind power – although this has been found to be less effective. The same principles also apply to wind turbines and wind farms.
The winter months can provide some of the most abundant and cleanest forms of energy. That is why it is so important to consider your monthly solar energy cost. This will help you determine how much you save with a powered by sunlight home.
The effect of Snow on Solar-Power Systems
The effect of snow on solar-power systems is not as drastic as it can be with micro and mini-grid. The reason for this is because the panels are clean (as stated above), while the panels on a mini or microgrid generally aren’t. At best, if you have cleaned your panels after each snowfall, then you would have to wait for the snow to melt.
A quality residential solar-power system that has been installed correctly should not have any issues with snow, though it is possible if the panels are regularly covered in snow. In a worst-case scenario where the panels get thick layers of snow on them, and you’re away for a while, then yes, it could cause an issue.
If you want more information about Solar panel installation: is it worth the money? Check our previous post.
How to Prepare for Winter Weather and Snow
The first and most obvious thing you can do is just simply make sure the panels are clean before winter hits. After all, this provides two benefits:
- The snow will melt faster off of them.
- The dirt and grime that accumulates on the panels will be prevented from accumulating as much during the cold months when snow tends to form more easily.
You can use a pressure washer to clean the panels off. If you don’t have access to a power washer, then you could even take some water and soap (or just soap), mix it up in a bucket with a scrub brush, and take a rag or sponge and wipe away; at those panels! Then once you’re done, h however if, you live in an area where there are ice storms or periods of high humidity in the winter, this actually poses a problem. The reason why is that solar panels don’t clean themselves up when it snows on them; they just accumulate over time until the snow starts building up.
The good news is that there are a couple of things that you can do about this. One option is to have your panels cleaned by solar service providers who will use power washers and soap, as mentioned before, or another option is to wash the panels yourself with soap and water.
If you choose to Clean Your Panels With Soap, then just start by taking your garden hose and spraying off the panels. Make sure that you spray all of them thoroughly, especially around the edges and vicinity of your panels. Take a brush with soap with you to help get any grime that doesn’t come off by just rinsing the snow away.
Solar power is an excellent option for many people in Australia. This article has covered how solar panels work through winter and whether or not they are still efficient during the colder months of the year. If you’re looking to make your home more sustainable but don’t want to give up on using electricity, this may be an ideal solution!