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How Well Do Solar Panels Work in the Winter?

Updated: Jan 14

The seasons are changing and it is clear that colder weather is on the way. One of the most common questions we get from our customers is whether solar panels actually work in the winter.


To help answer this, our Morton Solar team has put together this brief guide with the information you’re looking for.


Not only do solar panels still work in the winter, but they also work to keep your heating bills down during those cold snaps. However, there are some caveats to this.


Here’s what you need to know about winter weather and solar panels here in Indiana.


Solar Panels Do Work in Winter

When it comes down to it, solar panels do work in winter. They’re specifically designed to continue to work during cloudy days, which means those endless gray afternoons still work to keep your utility bills down. How is this possible? Solar panels are specifically designed to collect energy from the sun’s light—not the heat of high temperatures. This means that on a cold day, your panels can still continue to absorb energy.

It’s a similar phenomenon to how you can still get a sunburn on a cloudy day. This is great news, as it means those high winter heating bills won’t be nearly as bad as they would be without solar.


Lower Output Than in Summer

While your panels do continue to work, it is worth noting that the overall performance is much lower than in the summer. To understand this, we have to get a little technical. Think about why seasons happen in the first place. When the Earth’s rotation is closer to the sun, the outside temperature is warmer. Which is why the northern and southern hemispheres have opposite weather during different times of the year.

In wintertime, the Earth is farther from the sun. That means the strength of the rays we are getting is lessened, which means the output for your solar panels will be a little less. However, for most solar panel owners, the difference is largely minimal.


What About Ice and Snow?

Another concern you might have about solar panels in the winter is any ice or snow. The good news is that this is taken into consideration during installation. Usually, the panels are installed at an angle in which any accumulation would easily slide off to the ground below. However, you’ll still want to remember that this means it will hit whatever you have below it. We highly recommend you keep your cars, patio furniture, or other items from the ground beneath your solar panels. The panels are also durable enough to withstand extreme temperatures and heavy amounts of precipitation, which is why they’re still highly usable during the winter months.


Reduced Daylight Hours

One element that does make solar panels a bit less effective in winter is the reduced number of daylight hours. As the days get shorter, there’s less direct sun exposure, which means a lower output amount for your solar system. To really consider this, though, you need to take into account your solar energy system’s performance over the course of the whole year. In the summer, when the days are longer, you’re able to greatly make up for the winter months when daylight is at a premium. In most cases, it usually evens out.


Wrap Up: Do Solar Panels Work in the Winter?

As we’ve explained, solar panels do work in the winter. While they aren’t as efficient, they do continue to work through the cooler months.


Are you ready to learn more about how Morton Solar can help you save on your energy bills all year long?


Please contact us today to learn about available options or to get a no-obligation virtual quote.

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