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Does Solar Power Work in the Winter?


Most homeowners contemplating installing solar power wonder how well these systems will perform in winter. Will they generate enough power to heat a home adequately? What about on cloud-covered days? What about when there's ice or snow?

Thankfully, ice and snow are not likely to be a concern in Silicon Valley. Even rainy, cloudy days in our wettest months are not so frequent that it should put a damper on our solar budgets. But let's look at the matter a little more in depth and see how solar power is harvested, and what it can mean when the sun isn't shining.

How Solar Panels Perform in the Winter

Remember that solar panels work with light, and temperature is inconsequential. As long as the sun is shining -- which it usually is in our region -- your solar panels will work fine. And while rain is not a problem, in the rare event ice or snow might fall on them, they can be dusted off. However, since the panels are smooth, snow or ice should melt quickly and slide off.

What's more, even with a cloud cover, solar panels still produce electricity. If it's light outdoors, then the system is gathering it and converting it into energy. When days are shorter, the panels are obviously not producing energy for as long as during the summer, but they are designed to gather light even during low-light conditions, with some types of solar panels working better than others on cloudy days. On cloud-covered days, light is diffused and scatters. Panels with high-quality, anti-reflective glass will trap incoming light from every angle, capturing more sunlight than a conventional panel.

Regardless of the weather, the panel's collectors should always be kept clear so they can channel channel solar radiation and charge photo-voltaic cells. Sweep away leaves or any other debris to ensure they're getting access to as much light as possible.

Visit Valley Heating, Cooling, Electrical and Solar for more information on solar power and most HVAC topics, or call us at (408) 868-5500.

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