People often ask if their solar panels will work in the snow. The answer is yes. . . some times. You can see in the photo above that the Michigan Solar Solutions office in Riverdale, Michigan has some snow on the panels. Also inserted is a photo of the readout from the inverter, indicating that 204.7 Watts of power is being created even with the snow on the panels.
I know what you are thinking, “You said some times. . . What does that mean?” Okay, you caught me. Here is the real deal. In states like Michigan, when we have short dark days in winter and the snow comes down by the ton, there will be days where you have too thick of snow on the panels and the days are too cloudy for the sunlight to get through to the array. In those cases, even though a little bit of light gets through, it isn’t enough to turn on the system. It is often enough to start the panels to heat up however, and start to melt the snow off. Eventually, the panels will be snow free and when the cloud layer isn’t quite as opaque, the panels will start making power again.
All of this really doesn’t matter, however. These cloudy and snow covered days are taken into consideration when a solar company “sizes” an array for you. Regional weather data has been collected for decades and is available for solar array engineers, when they design your system. True some years are better than others for solar, and some are worse. But on average, if properly designed, your array will offset the expected amount of electricity despite the weather. A solar array in Michigan will only produce approximately 15% of the annual power over the span of the four months we call Winter (November through February). So even if an array ends up having a heavy snow fall on it for a couple of weeks, it won’t really impact the overall annual production a significant amount.
Another interesting fact is that the best production from a solar panel in Michigan is in the early spring when the air is cold, the sky is clear and the sun is reflecting off of all of the surrounding snow covered surfaces. Solar panels actually perform better in the cold. For every degree Celsius the air temperature drops, the voltage goes up 0.46%. With the reflection from the snow, it is possible for a solar panel to produce more than it is rated for. That is because the rating reflects energy production under laboratory conditions. The bottom line is that solar panels do work in the snow!
If you or another business is interested in having an undeniable impact on your triple bottom line give us a call for a free consultation to see if solar is right for you! Call (248) 923-3456 or request a Free Online Solar Analysis for Your Business.
Michigan Solar Solutions is a commercial and residential solar installer and electrical contractor that has served the lower peninsula of Michigan since 2007. We have installed thousands of panels and have a happy customer near you, check out what our customers think of us Guild Quality.