Solar power is certainly the future. If only, it can come rather early. We would all be much better for it. But, one of the biggest concerns people have when considering solar is how efficient the technology is during winters. How do cloudy days in winter and chilling temperatures effect solar power output? Of course, solar energy is associated with the sun. More sunlight should mean more power right!
However, solar panels can also work in cloudy weather. Of course, some sort of power efficiency dip can be expected on super cloudy days. But still, solar panels work very well offering clean energy in winter as well. So, how much power can you get from solar systems in the winter season? Of course, when we discuss winter, cloudy days are major part of it.
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How Is Solar Power Output Produced by Panels?
Quite simply, solar panels have technology that converts sunlight to direct current (DC). Also, an inverter is used to convert to covert this DC into alternating current (AC). All our appliances and devices are optimized to use AC. Of course, when its spanking sunny, panels will produce more current than when it is cloudy. Also, surplus energy can be sent back to the power grid, for which homeowners will be paid.
Not all days are sunny of course. So, how do you plan your solar installation to match demand? Naturally, you need to take into account maximum power need and minimum current generation. All excess energy can be sold to power grids and companies in most major cities of the world.
How Much Solar Power Output Suffers on Cloudy Winter Days?
Have you ever been sunburnt on a cloudy day in summer or any season of the year? If you have, you’d know solar radiation gets through clouds as well. Keeping that in mind, it is easy to see how the best solar panels will be able to produce power on cloudy days too.
However, depending on the intensity of cloud cover, solar power output can actually drop from 10 percent to anywhere between 25%. This is a comparison done with the sunniest days of course. Also, more efficient cell technology can reduce this drop in power output efficiently.
Superior cells that can capture a broader range of different wavelengths including red and blue can produce more energy on cold winter cloudy days. A backside mirror on cells can also help keep most captured radiation from the sun. So, there is a dip in power output on cloudiest of days but still you will get adequate power.
Important Facts About Solar Power Efficiency and Cold Cloudy Weather
- Solar panels actually work best in parts of the world where it is cold and sunny. There is a drop in efficiency when the temperature goes about 77 degrees Fahrenheit. Solar panels don’t need hot weather to boost efficiency. Also, that sill doesn’t mean solar systems are not for typically hot parts of the world. Again, the drop in efficiency is minor. However, the bottom line is that cold and cloudy winter days should not put you off from going solar.
- Solar power output may be slightly less in cold cloudy parts of the world. But it is not making homes and workspaces enjoy less clean energy. New York, Boston, San Francisco, Seattle and many other colder parts of the USA have adopted great levels of solar conversion. These areas get everything from heavy rain to fog and blizzards. This is where cost of electricity factor trumps number of cloudy days. Solar power can save great amounts on power bills during peak surcharge hours for homes and business owners.
- Usually, when investigated in detail, solar power output gets a drop because of shading and not cloudy days. Even a tree limb covering half your solar panels will drop output by half the amount. So, the best way is to check with your solar installers about shading issues. Quality panels are always designed in a way that they will only drop efficiency on cells that get shaded. All the rest of the cells will keep working as normal. If it snows in your part of the world, panels covered with snow will lose efficiency as well. It is important to get to the root cause without having the opinion of cold winter cloudy days affecting solar output. All of these points need to be considered when calculating how many solar panels you need for an efficient system.
Winter May Need Less Power Naturally
So, heating systems need energy right. Also, air conditioning will almost always be more power consuming than heating systems. Also, parts of the world that might use ceiling fans in summers, will save on their consumption in winter too. Winter season might need less power than what you may need in summer naturally. This might just suit solar systems and their nature of power output.
For solar power output, things usually even out for summers and winters. When you need most energy in summers, days are normally very sunny. Also, solar storage system that comes with your panels is designed to keep energy as well. You will be able to make more energy on sunny winter days and store it for cloudy ones.
So, you are considering solar systems for the home or for the workspace? There might be concerns for long winter seasons and whether or not the solar system will provide power in winter? However, you should always keep this in mind that solar systems work in winter too.
There might be a slight dip in solar power output but it is not nearly enough to rule out solar. Every type of homes and commercial buildings can use solar in both summer and winter seasons. Make sure to contact qualified solar installers and get the best idea about solar power efficiency in your area.