Will solar panels provide power in cold winter weather?
Installations of solar panels are booming across the US, with more and more households switching every quarter. The free, renewable and clean energy that streams down from our sun can bring amazing savings, but does solar also work as well during the cold winter months?
The fascinating answer is that solar panels work even more efficiently in cold winter weather!
With utility companies constantly hiking up prices, heating bills keep climbing. On top of that we have to deal with power outages when the utility company lines come down during winter storms. Fortunately, solar generated power and energy storage systems can solve both of these cold weather problems. In fact cold weather produces more efficient energy production by the solar panels. The result is that you have year round clean and free energy provided by a good solar panel installation.
Why should cold weather improve solar panel output?
Here’s a simple explanation of how solar panels convert sunlight into electric power:
- The light streaming down from the sun consists of photons
- The Solar PV panels on your roof are constructed of silicon cells, linked together in an array
- On reaching your roof, the photons strike the silicon cells in the Photovoltaic (PV) solar panels
- The electrons in the cold cells are in a state of relative rest
- When the photons strike the resting electrons, they excite them, causing them to move rapidly
- This rapid movement of the electrons is what gives rise to a flow of electric current.
- The current is then fed into your home grid to provide the electricity you need to run your home
So why does this deliver more energy in cold weather?
- In winter weather the electrons in the cold panel are in a state of relative rest
- When the photons in the sunlight strike them, they start moving with great energy
- In hot weather, the result will be slightly different
- Because the panels will have absorbed some heat from the sun the electrons will not be in the same state of rest and will already have more energy
- When the photons hit them, they will cause them to increase in speed, but not as much as if they had been in a state of rest
- The result is that the relative energy imparted is less than it would have been had the electrons been is a state of rest
- The flow of electric current created depends on the relative increase in energy of the electrons after the sunlight strikes the panel
- So, with a cold panel because the relative increase in energy is greater, relatively more electric current is created for your home
- The result is that the panels are relatively more efficient in cold winter weather
The electricity created is relative to the increase in energy of the electrons in the solar panels
Think of a ball at the top of a ramp 50 feet high. Let the ball roll down and it will be going pretty fast by the time it hits the bottom. Its energy will be pretty high. Now release the ball from only 10 feet up the ramp it will be going much slower when it reaches the bottom. It’s energy will be correspondingly less. The difference in speed determines how much energy is generated. Similarly, electrons moving from a state of rest to a state of rapid movement have more energy than electrons that are were already moving. The relative increase in speed being less.
So, in fact, cold solar panels will surprisingly produce electricity even more efficiently than panels in hot weather. Remember that it is the light from the sun that actually excites the electrons by bombarding them with photons. It is not the heat from the sun which causes the flow of current!
Where does the power come from at night or on very cloudy days?
During normal daylight hours, when the sun is shining, the solar panels on your roof will be generating plenty of power. In fact, your panels will be producing considerably more electricity than you will use that day. The extra current, however, does not go to waste. Your home solar installation automatically feeds that unused current back into the commercial grid supplied by your utility company. This current is then automatically credited to your utility account and at night or on cloudy days when you need current, you simply draw on the ‘banked’ credit with your utility supplier.
How about during power outages, where will the power come from?
Your solar installation company can provide you with a system that incorporates a solar battery backup unit. This provides current in the event of the grid going down. Even when your neighbors and all around you are in darkness, you to continue enjoying light and power! All your essential systems will continue functioning until the power comes back on.
When there is an outage will my solar system provide power during daylight hours?
Most people imagine that installing solar panels on your roof means that you automatically have power even when the commercial grid goes down in an outage. This, though, is not the case. If you allow your solar panels to continue functioning during a power outage, live power will be flowing back into the commercial grid. This live current would potentially endanger the line workers busy restoring power.
For this reason, your home solar panel system will automatically shut off while repair work is in progress. All the current you need will then by supplied by your battery back-up system.
Installing solar panels before winter is a no-brainer!
In hot weather, solar panels produce electricity extremely efficiently and cheaply. As we have seen, in cold weather the results are even better. All the more reason to install solar panels before winter sets in. Keep your home warm and bright, while keeping your utility bills low!
So, with a harsh winter predicted it makes great sense to prepare now by installing solar power for your home. Enjoy the peace of mind that millions of solar home owners across the US have with winter around the corner. Get a free online quote and see what a difference solar power can make to your monthly utility bills all year round.