During the summer here in St. Louis Park, it’s a no-brainer that your solar panel system will work to produce solar energy for your home. But, what about the winter season? Will a solar panel system work during the cold winter months, when sunlight is in much lower supply?
With proper care and maintenance, your solar panels will still operate in the winter. Here, we’ll cover everything you need to know about winter solar panel production and maintenance in Minneapolis.
Solar Energy Production in the Winter
Many homeowners wonder whether their solar panels will continue to work in the winter, and they absolutely will. However, unsurprisingly, the panels won’t produce as much energy during the winter as they do at other times of the year. The lower output of solar panels during the winter is due to many factors, including:
- The length of the days, which are shorter in the winter than in the summer
- Snow, which can inhibit solar panels from producing energy temporarily
That said, it’s also important to know that solar panels generally operate with greater efficiency at lower temperatures. This is because solar panels have a peak temperature at which they can operate optimally. At some points during the summer, the panels may hit this temperature. But, during the winter here in St. Louis Park, they won’t. So, on sunny winter days when no snow is piled on your solar panels, the panels can work very efficiently.
Winter Solar Maintenance
Did you know that your solar panels have deep cycle batteries that need occasional maintenance? It’s true. For your solar panel system to operate at its best, the batteries should be properly taken care of. As a first step, look at the deep cycle batteries’ voltage. If it’s lower than 12 Volts DC, make sure to give the batteries a charge.
Ideally, the deep cycle batteries will be located inside upon installation. This will ensure that the batteries aren’t affected by temperature extremes, given that some batteries can freeze in temperatures below zero.
Sometimes, deep cycle batteries are installed inside. In this scenario, the batteries should be protected inside a compartment with insulation. This will, again, protect the batteries from temperature extremes, despite being located outside.
As winter strikes, off-grid solar panel owners should also make sure to have a supply of antifreeze distilled water. It’s important to check on the water level so that you can refill promptly as needed.
Especially in Minneapolis, snow is the biggest roadblock for solar panels during the winter. After a large storm, the snow that lands on your solar panels can take its time melting off. While the snow is on top of your solar panels, snow won’t be able to reach the cells for energy production.
If you can safely access your solar panels, clean the snow and ice off of them when possible. After a small snowstorm, the snow will likely melt off before you have a chance to get to it. But, high volumes of snowfall may need to be cleaned off so that your solar panel system can continue to work.
Contacting your local solar panel experts is the safest way to clean your solar panels. But, if you’re in a pinch, you may try one of these methods yourself – only if it’s safe to do so!
- Use a soft broom (without abrasive bristles) to brush away the snow from your solar panels.
- Take a hose and use lukewarm water to remove the snow from the panels. Never use hot water, as the change in temperature will be too extreme and could damage the panels.
Home Energy Conservation
Ultimately, saving energy at home during the winter will not only help the planet, but also help ensure that your solar panels produce enough energy to power your home. There are multiple ways that your household can conserve energy, including:
- Switching the lights off whenever you leave a room.
- Close windows and doors while your heating system is on.
- Unplug electronics once you’re done using them.
- Update your home’s insulation and ventilation to prevent heated air from leaking out.
For more information about how to best care for your solar panels during the winter, contact Midwest Construction today.