Solar Panels efficiency is highly relative to the temperature of the site where it is operational. As experts say, solar PV panel efficiency decreases with increased temperature and its production results are best when it is installed in cooler areas given abundant direct sunlight is falling on them.

Bifacial PV module

For the Bifacial PV module, more than 19% of energy gains have been observed in the regions where snow covers the ground resulting in higher albedo as compared to traditional mono-facial PV modules.

A demonstration of how the bifacial modules work.

A demonstration of how the bifacial modules work.

Scientific Relation Between Temperature and Solar PV Panels.

Solar panels convert sunlight into electricity, even when temperatures are below freezing. This is because solar panels absorb energy from the sun's abundant light rather than the sun's heat. In fact, cold climates are best for solar panel efficiency. As long as the sunlight hits the solar panel, it will generate electricity. The decrease in winter performance is mainly due to heavy snowfall and shorter daylight hours.

So How do Solar Panels Work?

When photon particles from sunlight hit the solar cells of the solar panel, the electrons in the silicon start to move. This produces power that is sent to your home's distribution box to power your critical appliances. Rechargeable solar cells help store this electricity so that the sun's energy can be used at night, during peak hours, or when the grid is off.

How do electrons move around atoms? At low temperatures, electrons are at rest (low energy). When these electrons are activated by increased sunlight (higher energy), the voltage difference across the solar panel increases, and more energy is produced. Therefore, the colder the solar cell, the more efficiently it generates electricity.

Solar panels are also less likely to reach peak temperature or peak power during winter. If the temperature exceeds this peak temperature, the performance of the solar panel will degrade.

Studies have shown that panels become less efficient at about 25ºC. However, this efficiency loss is offset by increased daylight hours during spring and summer.

Do Solar PV Panels Work in Winter?

Absolutely yes! Many people are surprised to learn that solar panels can actually improve performance in winter conditions, further minimizing production waste due to snow on the panels and loss of daylight hours. Photovoltaic (PV) technology can convert sunlight into electricity more efficiently during colder months.

Snow also reflects additional sunlight onto the panels, increasing the amount of energy the system can produce in a day.

  • What happens when the PV panels are covered with snow?

Solar Panels In Winter

If the solar panel is covered with snow, it will not be able to generate electricity. However, solar arrays tend to repel snow fairly well. The panels themselves absorb both the heat and light of the sun and are mounted facing the sun, often on a slope.

While it is true that snowfall reduces solar panel production, the loss as a percentage of total annual production is actually very small, making it a good investment for potential customers.

It is not recommended for solar system owners to remove snow from their arrays as this can damage the array and is not covered under warranty. Also, the panels themselves tend to be in hard-to-reach or dangerous locations on the roof.

  • In order to get optimal PV plant performance do I need to clear the snow which is covering my Solar PV modules?

Solar Panels In Winter

If your roof or panels are covered with snow, don't panic. When the sun reappears after a storm, the sun's rays hit the snow on the roof, causing it to quickly fall off the panels. Additionally, solar panels are built to withstand inclement weather and heavy snowfall. So you don't have to try to remove the snow from the roof. Better stay indoors with hot coffee and look forward to the next sunny day.

However, some users have a solar system out of the box and spare no effort in optimizing the system for the best possible performance. If you've fallen into this camp, here are some tips. If you have roof brakes, use them to clear the area under the panels to allow snow that has fallen off the panels to slide.

Better stay cautious! Customers report success with this technique, but panel damage is not covered under warranty. Under no circumstances should you attempt to clear snow from a snow collector using the sharp edge of a metal roof rake (never use a rake of any kind on a vacuum tube collector). Think about your safety, too – producing a few extra hours in the shortest daylight hours of the year isn't worth hurting yourself.

Few Quick Tips to Maintain your PV Plants in Winter.

If you live in a country with lots of snow and wind in winter, it is highly recommended to purchase solar panels that are tested to withstand specific snow loads. Most IEC/UL-certified solar panels are 2400 Pa of snow and wind loads. However, if you expect several meters of snow each winter, we recommend choosing a more robust version. Panels capable of withstanding snow loads of 5400 Pa. Today, there are panels on the market that can withstand a snow load of 7200 Pa. This may sound like an exaggeration, but when snow piles up to a height of many meters and rains or starts to melt, the pressure of the snow is very high.

  • It's a good idea to prepare before winter sets in. Make sure all diagnostic tools are available. This includes a digital multimeter and a set of clamps and cutters. As an off-grid system owner, make sure you have enough distilled antifreeze water for your battery. You also need the right tools for removing snow.

  • Make sure the battery is installed indoors, and if it is installed outdoors, make sure the compartment is properly insulated. Remember that lead-acid batteries freeze at -20°C and are destroyed.

  • To maximize the performance of the solar array, please adjust the angle of the solar array to match the winter angle.

  • Try to use only the loads you need. Turn off excessive lighting when it's not needed.

  • Disconnects ghost loads that consume power even when off as long as they are plugged in. A perfect example is television. A plugged-in TV uses the same amount of power over a 24-hour period as if it were turned on for 30 minutes.

  • Replace all high-wattage lamps with energy-saving lamps. By replacing approximately 75% of the energy used in a 60-watt incandescent bulb with an energy-efficient 15-watt CFL, you save money without sacrificing light output. Carefully monitor the temperature of the battery and never let it drop below 0 degrees. Monitors the voltage level of each cell in a lead-acid battery. Most batteries fail over time instead of failing immediately. By checking the voltages regularly, potential problems can be identified sooner or later.

  • Make sure your home has the proper insulation to save heat. Make sure you have a heating system that automatically maintains the set temperature using a digital thermostat.

  • And finally. If a stable power supply is important, have a spare generator and test the functionality beforehand.

See Also: The Complete Guide to Solar Panel Maintenance

How Waaree Can Help?

Waaree Energies Ltd. is the flagship company of Waaree Group, founded in 1989 with headquarters in Mumbai, India. It has India's largest Solar panel manufacturing capacity of 5GWs at its plants in Surat and Umbergaon in Gujarat. Waaree Energies is amongst the top players in India in Solar Panel Manufacturing, EPC Services, Project Development, Rooftop Solutions, and Solar Water Pumps and is also an Independent Power Producer. Waaree has its presence in over 380 locations

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