Winter is coming! In the Northern hemisphere, that means snow, lots of it. This can cause concern for many homeowners to watch their roofs get covered in white and wonder what will happen to their solar panels. Many people have asked us if there are any adverse effects of snow on solar panels, so we decided to look into it.
What happens if there is snow on solar panels?
We first need to discuss how a typical photovoltaic (PV) cell works to answer this question. In 1906, Albert Einstein laid the foundation for PV cells when he explained that light could create electricity, and in 1954 researchers demonstrated converting sunlight into electricity for the first time.
PV cells are made of semiconducting materials, which means factors like heat and light can manipulate their electrical properties. This is why solar panels work best in warm, sunny climates where there is plenty of direct sunlight to provide photons (light particles) with energy to excite electrons within the PV cell so they can flow as an electric current.
To generate electricity from a PV cell, you need direct sunlight, where the snow comes in. Snow acts like a blanket covering your solar panels and blocks incoming light, preventing these electrons from flowing through the circuit when they are excited by photons of light, meaning no power is produced!
What happens if there is snow on solar panels? The answer to this question depends a lot on the type of panel you have. There are two types of PV cells: monocrystalline and polycrystalline. Monocrystalline silicon-based cells usually work better than their counterparts in cold temperatures, but it is important to note that snow will even affect them. Polycrystalline solar cells perform better at lower temperatures, though this doesn’t mean you should leave them covered with snow for days on end.
Snow accumulation can damage your panels if the build-up gets too heavy or isn’t properly removed. This is why it’s essential to understand your warranty and the precautions you should take when winter weather conditions in your area.
Having snow on solar panels will not damage them over time, but if they aren’t cleaned off regularly or accumulations get too heavy, this can cause power production problems down the line. Luckily, when you work with the right solar company like Semper Fi Exteriors, we will help ensure your panels are properly maintained and in good condition.
Our advice? Enjoy winter’s beauty while it lasts but remember to remove any snow that builds up on your roof before there is too much of a weight load causing damage or restricting power production.