This winter may have been a little on the warm side by Minnesotan standards, but temperatures are set to drop dramatically in the weeks ahead. Solar power may not be foremost on your mind as you shiver through these dark winter months! But even when the sun is hiding, your residential solar power system is still working hard. In fact, winter is often the time your solar panel installation needs just a little more TLC than usual.
Read on to keep those solar panels running like a dream, all the way through to the spring!
First, the Good News!
Even in the darkest days of winter, your solar panels will still be able to capture what little sunlight there is, generate electricity and reduce your energy bills. Solar panels are actually more efficient when it’s cold (even if that extra efficiency doesn’t quite make up for the general lack of sunlight!). This is because the reflective quality of the panels means the white snow acts as a mirror, reflecting more light and boosting your panels’ performance. The second piece of good news is solar panels are extremely sturdy and require very little maintenance. Just a little extra work during the winter goes a long way!
Adjust Your Angle
The angle of the sun changes in the winter – that means the angle of your solar panels should ideally change too! With the sun lower in the sky than it is during the summer, you’re looking at a steeper angle based around the angle of latitude. A simple equation for determining the optimal angle is to add 15 degrees to the degree of latitude from your location. In Minnesota’s case, that is 46 degrees, plus 15, making the optimal angle around 61 degrees. Clearly, this isn’t an option if your solar panels are mounted on fixed racks. If you’re able to though, adjusting the angle will maximize the sunlight your solar panel arrangement captures. Even if your racks won’t let you tilt the panels all the way, just a small shift will help them attract more sunlight. As well as optimizing the amount of sunlight captured, a steeper angle also means less snow will settle on your panels – bringing us to our next point…
Remove heavy snow from your panels
You live in Minnesota – we don’t need to tell you about heavy snowfall, right?? But when it comes to solar panel arrangements, you need to keep an eye on the amount of snow covering them. A bit of snow is fine. The heat of the panels means light snowfall is likely to melt quickly, anyway – it can even help keep your solar panels clean! Too much snow, however, and your solar panels become less effective at capturing sunlight (which kinda makes sense when you think about it!!). Heavy snowfall can also place excessive weight on the panels, putting the mounting points under unnecessary strain. And if you do decide you need to clear the snow off your solar panels, do it mindfully! You should use a soft snow brush – a harder brush or a snow rake, could damage your solar panels.
And a quick word of warning…
Approach any kind of solar panel maintenance with great care to avoid damaging them – failure to do so could also void your warranty! If you’re in any doubt, it’s always best to contact your solar panel provider for further advice.
Here at Cedar Creek Energy, Minnesota’s premier solar energy company, we’re here for you whatever the weather! Get in touch today for a free solar bid for your home.