As we enter the new year, installing solar panels remains an environmentally-friendly and cost-effective choice. However, those living in colder regions may face some challenges with this renewable energy source. Can solar panels still generate power during snowy days?
Joshua Pearce, associate professor at Michigan Technological University, explains, “If snow completely covers your solar panels, only a small portion of sunlight can pass through the snow to reach your solar cells, which means they will produce less electricity.”
He adds, “Even a small amount of snow covering part of a solar panel can significantly reduce the entire system’s output.”
To address these challenges, researchers are looking into whether solar panels can continue generating power under harsh cold-weather conditions.
This expected loss is likely to affect solar users’ energy bills, but it could have more severe consequences for those who solely rely on solar photovoltaics without grid connectivity.
For households and businesses that still have access to the grid, the economic impact should be limited. Nonetheless, improving solar energy efficiency remains an issue.
The study also explores the positive effects of snow on solar panels.
Pearce points out, “When snow falls on the ground, and nothing blocks your solar panels, the snow acts as a mirror, reflecting light back up onto the solar panel, increasing its production.”
He says, “In many cases, the reflection from snow slightly increases the performance of PV systems.”
Pearce shares several ways to improve solar panel performance when dealing with snow.
Tips for Generating Power During Snow:
1.Clearing off Snow Regularly
At times like this, you might find a tennis ball handy. Using a bouncing tennis ball on the tilted panels can help dislodge snow. Of course, you can use other tools as well. This method can help restore your solar power system to optimal functioning.
2.Installing Panels at a Larger Angle
This helps slow down snow accumulation, saving you frequent snow removal. As Pearce puts it, “When you’re deciding between a 30-degree or 40-degree angle, clearly a steeper one would be better.”
3.Leaving Space Below Your Solar Panels
This prevents snow buildup below the panels that gradually covers the entire array over time.
Overall, solar energy remains a low-cost and high-efficiency alternative energy source. As an alternative to traditional power sources, more and more new PV systems are being installed in homes and businesses worldwide. And once you go off-grid, even if snow slightly affects solar power generation, your overall power supply remains stable.
With ongoing research and installation, solar energy remains a great option for Americans looking to adopt renewable energy.
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