Solar panels can work well in winter

The big chill: Lower temperatures experienced in the winter months are good for generating solar. How much depends on where you live. Photo: Shutterstock
The big chill: Lower temperatures experienced in the winter months are good for generating solar. How much depends on where you live. Photo: Shutterstock

Yes, solar panels work in winter. According to Solar Calculator, a free independent solar power resource, solar panels work by converting sunlight into electricity, not heat.

Although there are less available sunlight hours in winter months, a solar panel system can still produce electricity, albeit solar output will be lower than in summer months.

The benefit of the winter climate, is that the lower temperature actually improves the efficiency of the solar panels.

Winter output

Solar panels will produce less electricity in winter months than at other times throughout the year, due to the lower sunshine hours.

Of the major Australian cities, Brisbane has the best winter conditions with solar output at 73 per cent of average production. Contrast this to Melbourne where solar output is only 50 per cent of average annual output.

The lower temperatures experienced in the winter months are actually a plus for generating solar.

Solar panels operate more efficiently at lower temperatures. It is not the lack of heat that impacts on solar output in winter, rather it is the reduced sunshine hours.

Best angle for winter production

Year round, the best angle for solar panels is typically the latitude angle of your location.

However, during the winter months, the sun travels on a lower arc. If you want to maximise winter solar output, it is best to increase the tilt of your panels so that they are perpendicular to the lower arc of the sun.

Any solar panel shading issues you have at your property are likely to be amplified during the winter months as the lower arc of the sun casts longer shadows. More shading means lower production, but your solar panels will still work in winter.

Do solar panels work in the snow?

Yes, solar panels can even work in the snow. If the panels have enough tilt, snow will simply slide off the modules as it melts. Once the panel is free of snow and receiving sunlight, it will start working to produce electricity again.

Although snow is less of an issue for solar panels in Australia rather than in Europe or America, it still occurs in parts of Victoria, Tasmania and New South Wales and even south west Queensland.

Winter brings with it more cloudy days

Depending on where you live in Australia, winter can bring with it more cloudy days. The good news is, solar panels still work on cloudy days, albeit output is lower.

Whether it be cold, cloudy or even snowy weather, your solar panels will work in winter conditions.

  • Information provided by Solar Calculator
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