While most of us may not like it, the days are getting shorter, the evenings chillier. This, unfortunately, directly impacts the energy bills landing into our inboxes and letterboxes. At Caldor, we are very accustomed to the reasons behind our client’s want to turn to solar power. The main two factors being a reduction in utility costs and a keenly felt responsibility to go as green as their lifestyle practically permits. The questions surrounding these decision making points are the ones we aim to answer with our blogs. Undoubtedly, one of the most voiced concerns is that of Ireland’s weather and even more pointedly, Ireland’s winter. So, do solar panels work in winter, an Irish winter? Let’s find out.
How Solar Panels Work – Heat vs. Daylight
Here’s a line we trot out frequently. Solar panels work by harnessing the power of the sun and converting it into electricity thanks to photovoltaic cells (PV). With that one sentence however, it’s very easy to let our brains do some ill-advised calculation and assume that the sun’s power means the sun’s heat.
It is in fact, light and not heat that gives us what we need. It is another fact that too much heat can actually inhibit the efficiency of your panels.
What happens to solar panels when it’s cloudy or raining?
While we may not need to worry too much about heat, what about light during the winter months? That is still definitely a factor, will loss of daylight hours impact the volume of energy you capture? It will, but not as much as you may think. Even on grey, cloudy and rainy days sunlight gets through. While it will slow down your energy yield, there are ways to ensure that you’re giving them the best conditions to work, within the reduced window they have.
Work with trusted professional companies to install your panels
That’s a mouthful of a bullet point but the location and angle at which your panels are installed will have the biggest bearing on their ability to do their job well. It requires experience and a considered approach to your home, to design and place a system that will reach its full potential.
Monitoring and Maintenance
Ensuring your panels are clear from obstruction or debris is important. As an added bonus, rain will assist you in this endeavour. That said, having a professional scheduled to conduct ‘health checkups’ occasionally can also be recommended. We’ve written about solar panel maintenance, the do’s and don’ts, in our blog ‘Do Solar Panels Need Servicing’
The Effects of Snow on Solar Panels
This isn’t something that tends to impact Ireland on a regular basis but on the rare occasion we find ourselves in a winter wonderland you needn’t worry. Solar panels are installed and mounted at a tilted angle which allows snow to melt and slope off easily. Panels are also stress tested for all environmental factors they’re likely to come up against. In other words, their endurance is tested against freezing temperatures, corrosion, impact, weight, rain and hail.
While not every solar panel installation will have a battery storage system, those that do will have the option to keep excess energy produced during the day for later use. We’ve written about batteries in a lot more detail here (will be linked when published).
Warranties and Life Span
This is a reassuring synopsis more than an additional point on how your panels will operate during winter months. You can commit to the right and responsible route from installation through to maintenance but, you will still experience a drop off in energy production. We can’t control the hours of daylight we have. We can, however, plan around them and we know that panels are still worth the investment. Their lifespan and durability, combined with the warranties that reputable companies offer should give you peace of mind.
Get in touch if you’d like more information on anything relating to solar panel systems.
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