All summer long, the solar panels on your Vernon Hills roof pumped out electricity as you scoffed at the utility company and its costly electric bills. But now, with winter setting in, they’ll have the last laugh of 2019. After all, solar panels don’t work in winter, right?
Wrong! Solar panels do work in winter.
Common logic goes something like this: the sun is hot and the sun’s heat, therefore, plays a role in solar energy production. This thinking goes further in suggesting that snow will impede energy production up on the roof.
The truth is that only one aspect of winter has the greatest impact on solar energy production – shorter days. In Vernon Hills, winter daylight is just not what it was in summer.
On June 20, 2019, the longest daylight of the year, the sun rose at 5:15 a.m. and set at 8:32 p.m. That means that sun was ‘up’ for 15 hours and 17 minutes. On Dec. 20, 2019, the shortest stretch of sunlight this year, the sun will rise at 7:17 a.m. and set at 4:22 p.m. That’s only 9 hours and 5 minutes of sunlight. The difference is 6 hours and 12 minutes. In the days between, the difference fades.
There’s no question that shorter durations of sunlight will reduce the production of electricity from a solar panel array on the roof. But, during those hours of sunlight, even in winter, the solar energy system is still doing its job.
Do the cold and snow reduce solar energy production?
Surprisingly, a drop in temperature doesn’t negatively effect solar energy production. In fact, colder temperatures can improve solar energy production.
If a solar panel is covered in snow, the snow will largely block solar production. But keep in mind that, as it warms, snow will generally slide off the flat surface of a solar array. And when the solar panels are not covered with snow, surrounding snow reflects the UV rays with the potential to amplify the sun’s effects on a solar energy system.
Not to sugar-coat the situation, yes, solar energy production will drop in the winter. But the drop is not as precipitous as you might expect. Your Vernon Hills solar energy production will continue all year round.