The hot summer is over and we are approaching a cold winter. According to the United Nations World Meteorological Organisation (WMO), there is a 70% chance of a "La Niña" in the northern hemisphere this winter, with a very high probability of extreme winter events. This is bad news for Europe, which is in the midst of an energy crisis.
If you have already installed, or plan to install, a photovoltaic system in your home within the next two months, then congratulations, you're more prepared to face the cold than anyone else. Those solar panels can bring a constant stream of free electricity to your home.
It sounds great, but perhaps you have some concerns about it. Here's a primer on photovoltaics, which you can skip if you already know.
Can solar panels generate electricity when the temperature is so low?
Solar PV converts light energy into electricity, not heat. As long as there is sunlight, solar panels can generate electricity all year round. In the same way, it can also answer the question: do solar panels work better in summer or in winter？
Because of the temperature coefficient of the cells, low temperatures can instead increase the efficiency of the solar panels. The lower the temperature, the higher the efficiency.
Will PV panels be damaged by freezing when they are outdoors all the time?
Low temperature weather has little effect on photovoltaic panels. PV modules are low temperature resistant and the main materials such as glass, aluminium frames and cells are inorganic. They are very little dependent on temperature, so low temperatures will not freeze PV modules.
Do my solar panels produce less electricity in winter?
Yes, the total amount of electricity generated by PV panels is usually lower in winter compared to the rest of the year.
The days are shorter and there are fewer hours of sunlight in winter. Also, with more cloudy and snowy weather, sunlight is more commonly blocked and photovoltaic panels receive less solar radiation, which naturally generates less electricity.
If you've read this far, it means you're on board with PV. The next thing you want to know is how photovoltaic panels should work in winter, including installation, operation and maintenance? So, let's go on!
What should I do if my PV panels are snowed in?
Designing the installation to suit the location
For areas where it snows frequently, we need to find a best angle for solar panels in winter, for example by increasing the tilt angle within the optimum tilt angle range. It is easier for snow to slide off the surface of the solar panel on its own within the effective power generation range. Also, you might consider choosing black borders or full-black modules - black absorbs more heat and can melt snow faster.
Clear snow in a timely manner
Snow on photovoltaic panels can affect the exposure of the panels to sunlight and reduce the solar panel output in winter. If the snow is not cleared in time, it can even affect the life of the PV modules. Therefore, it is important to clear snow from PV modules after a snowfall. Cleaning PV modules in good time not only ensures power generation, but also avoids the hot spot effect and extends the life of the modules.
How to clean snow off solar panels properly?
1. Do not use sharp metal objects such as hard shovels to shovel snow directly on the PV modules to avoid scratching or even shattering the tempered glass.
2、Use a solar panel cleaning brush or a soft cloth mop to gently sweep the snow.
3、Don't use hot water to pour away the ice layer to avoid damage to the PV modules caused by uneven heat and cold.
4. Do not wait until the snow has accumulated for a long time before clearing it. Remember to sweep clean and leave no chunks of snow.