Are Solar Panels Impacted by Longer Winter Nights?

Are Solar Panels Impacted by Longer Winter Nights?

California is a great place to go solar. With hundreds of days of bright sunlight every year, we’re blessed with an abundance of potential energy to harvest and harness to power our homes. However, during winter daylight hours become shorter and our panels spend more time shrouded in darkness.

What do these shorter days mean for your solar energy system? Will you see any significant impact? What behavior changes can you expect during these months? Our blog explains the changes you may see from your system during winter months so you know what to expect from your equipment and about your energy costs.

Shorter Days Means Reduced Production

Having fewer daylight hours reduces the production of electricity generated by your solar energy system although you will still see the same peak capacity during the most productive hours of the day.

Likewise, your actual peak capacity may change slightly based on the fact that the sun not only moves east to west across the sky, but north to south as well - and at a much slower speed. During summer months, the sun is closer to being directly overhead, creating direct light and plentiful energy to harvest. During winter months, the sun’s direct path migrates toward the southern hemisphere and the sun’s direct angle changes a bit. If your panels have a good view of the sky, you won’t see much or even any difference in peak capacity from this migration. However, if your view isn’t quite so clear, you may notice a slightly diminished peak capacity as well as reduced overall capacity from reduced daylight hours.

Longer Nights Mean More Dependence on Grid Power

Longer nights and night hours starting earlier means you’ll have to turn to grid power sooner than you would during summer. Unfortunately for many, this transition tends to happen right in the middle of peak usage hours when energy costs are at their highest for those on time-of-use rate structures. In turn, this drives up your energy costs due to increased consumption from the power grid.

The good news is that you can avoid this issue with a home energy storage system and also avoid the hassle of time of use rates and continue to enjoy substantial savings even when solar capacity is diminished. Your panels will continue to charge your home energy storage system throughout the day, and you can still turn to this power when the sun goes down in order to avoid peak usage rates that often run until 7 or 8PM.

If you don’t have an energy storage system, saving money is best done during the day. Because your panels will still produce an abundance of clean energy, you can send that energy back to the grid for a credit toward your monthly statement. Keep as many electronic devices shut off and unplugged during your daytime hours, particularly hours when no one is home and the energy you send back will absolutely help offset the added cost of energy consumption later on in the evening.

Will the Weather Impact My Panels?

This is another common question we get from customers who are concerned that winter weather will diminish their solar panel performance. While cloudy weather or darker skies will reduce panel capacity, it won’t eliminate it entirely. Your panels will still produce at a lower capacity, but it may not be enough to completely power your home entirely. In these cases, it’s best to shut off or unplug any unused devices to reduce your energy consumption.

Will extreme temperatures, wind, or rain impact your panels? No. Reputable solar panel manufacturers will test their solar panels in both laboratories and in real-world applications to ensure they’ll last. Using durable, premium-grade materials and advanced manufacturing engineering, some of the most sophisticated panels on the market now can remain in use for 10 to 15 years or more and see as little as a one to two percent drop in energy production. That’s a tremendous statistic and means your solar energy system will be able to provide you with the energy you need with little to no maintenance for more than a decade going forward.

This is why Valley Heating, Cooling, Electrical and Solar always offers premium panels from reputable manufacturers and industry leaders as opposed to lower-cost, budget panels that often don’t last nearly as long or produce to nearly the same capacity so long into their lifespan.

Want to know more about how solar could save you money on your energy costs all year long? Talk to the solar energy experts from Valley Heating, Cooling, Electrical and Solar by calling (408) 868-5500 today!

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