With energy prices increasing and the threat of global warming on the rise, many Irish households have been looking into more cost-effective and sustainable energy sources. Solar panels are an excellent energy alternative and offer plenty of benefits to homes. There is still one nagging question, however, that many worry about. In this blog post we will be answering this worry: Are solar panels effective in the winter?
Solar Panel Performance in Colder Weather
The short answer to the question above is yes, solar panels are absolutely effective in the winter. In fact, some solar panels may be more effective at generating energy in colder temperatures. Modern solar panels do not use the sun’s heat to generate electricity, instead, the UV light that is emitted by the sun gets converted into electricity. This means that even on a dreary and cold Winter day, solar panels can still generate electricity.
This is an important consideration, especially whenn the typical Irish winter we know is characterised by overcast and rainy days. Colder weather can actually help solar panels to produce more energy since the effectiveness of solar panels can diminish slightly in higher temperatures. Rainy weather is also a benefit because the rainwater can clear the dust that naturally accumulates on solar panels over time, which further increases their effectiveness.
Are Solar Panels a Good Investment in Ireland?
Many people associate solar panels with sunnier countries. As a result, they can feel that solar panels are less than ideal in countries with cooler climates such as Ireland. However, this assumption cannot be farther from the truth. Commercial PV systems are still an excellent investment in a country with fewer sunny days like Ireland. Solar panel systems do have a reduced production capacity in the Winter months, but this is not due to the lower temperature. Instead, the production drop is caused by the fewer daylight hours. However, this is balanced out by the increased production levels during the Summer months when the days are longer.
A solar panel system that is correctly sized and properly installed should be able to meet the energy demands of most households throughout the year. However, adding a battery bank to your solar panel system makes your investment go much farther. Solar panels often generate more electricity than needed, especially during the day when there may be a lower demand for energy in your home. This extra energy can be stored in batteries so that it may be used at night when the panels cannot generate electricity. Incorporating a battery bank into your solar system is especially useful in the colder seasons when there are fewer daylight hours.
Does Cold or Bad Weather Damage Solar Panels?
No, in general, modern PV systems are very resistant to outdoor conditions. That being said, weather conditions like extreme wind, hail or snowstorms can damage solar panels by physically destroying the panel or other components. However, these scenarios are rare. Cold and frosty weather does not damage solar panels at all. In fact, accumulated frost on a solar panel melts quickly as soon as the sunlight hits the panel. This is due to the black colour of the panels, which is designed to absorb the infrared energy that the sun emits. Solar panels are designed to be installed in areas where they will be exposed to the elements which makes them very robust.
In addition to this, expert solar panel installers such as those here at Wizer Energy will always select an installation site that balances the protection of solar panels from extreme weather with the optimum generation of electricity.
How Much Light Do Solar Panels Need to Work?
Solar panels are very sensitive to light, meaning that most modern panels can work throughout the day. Solar panels continue working on cloudy and overcast days because enough sunlight still penetrates through the clouds to allow the panels to generate electricity. There is a difference in the output of a solar panel on a bright, sunny day versus the output on an overcast day, but solar panels are capable of generating electricity on overcast days.
In addition to their ability to store electricity for use at night, battery banks can also provide a boost in electricity availability on overcast days. On days when the demand for electricity exceeds the production capacity of the panels, the solar PV system can draw power from the battery bank to cover the shortfall. This way, you can avoid needing to draw electricity from the grid and save on your energy bill throughout the year. Consumers who want to replace the majority of their electricity needs with power from a renewable source like solar PV systems would therefore be best served by a system with a battery bank.
Are Solar Panels in Colder Climates More Expensive?
No, solar panels carry the same costs for both warm and cooler climates. Solar panels are not designed specifically for use in specific climates. Instead, they are sold and priced according to other specifications such as their peak output. Many of the major cities in the world, including Irish cities, are located in geographical areas that aren’t typically blessed with abundant sunshine or warmth. Yet, solar panels have proven that they are effective in these areas and that they are well worth investing in.
This is especially true for places where electricity is relatively expensive. This is because the cost of installing a commercial PV system can be recovered much quicker through savings on energy bills in these areas. In addition to this, the flexibility of PV systems makes them an attractive and green investment. For example, the electricity that is generated by a commercial PV system can be used to power EV chargers which reduce the cost of mobility and promotes eco-friendly motoring.
Solar panel systems can also be used in combination with far infrared heaters to further reduce monthly utility costs.
Do Solar Panels Require More Maintenance in Cold Weather?
No, modern commercial PV systems are designed to operate almost maintenance-free. Weather conditions such as rain, wind or snow can actually reduce the need for maintenance because it helps to clear dust and debris from the panels. Solar panels are often installed on angled roofs or otherwise difficult to access areas and it is not advisable to perform maintenance on panels during colder weather because of the risk of falling or slipping on wet roofs. Since Ireland is not prone to receiving much snow during the winter the light coating of snow that might accumulate on panels will quickly melt in the sun or be blown away by the wind.
It is clear that we must invest in more eco-friendly electricity sources if we are to ensure the sustainability of the planet. Solar panels offer a simple and versatile solution to meet much of our energy needs and their use is not restricted to warm and sunny climates. Solar panels have proven to be effective in the coldest climates and can perform very well in places like Ireland.
Are you ready to make the switch to solar? Contact Wizer Energy today to get expert advice and an assessment of your energy needs. We will help you to switch to solar in a cost-effective and convenient way.