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The Impact Of Snowfall On Solar Panel Systems

In recent years, an increasing number of homeowners who reside in colder climates are turning to solar powered energy to light their homes and businesses. Solar panels are a cost-efficient, environmentally friendly energy source and are often considered by homeowners who desire to leverage clean energy for heating and cooling their homes. While global warming continues to exhibit its negative side effects across our planet, the addition of solar panels to power your home is a great way to combat carbon dioxide emissions. Canada, due to a combination of its geographic location and its vast, elevated terrain, receives heavy snowfall during the winter months which can span from September to May of any given year. These levels of snow can have an effect on the performance of solar panels.

Solar Panels & Snowy Canadian Weather

As snow continues to fall throughout the winter season, solar panels have a tendency to lose some of their effectiveness. Snow precipitation is likely to accumulate on top of your solar panels–blocking sunlight and preventing your panel system from generating the amount of power you would typically expect on a summer day. So the question is, is it even worthwhile to make an investment in a solar panel system for your home in Canada?

Winter Energy Generation

Overall, solar panels still do an excellent job of producing energy, even during the snowy winter months. While the amount of power will be less than the summer season, the available sunlight hours are still sufficient and can supply the average household with more than enough energy to to make the purchase worthwhile. It should be noted, however, that the amount of energy generated during these months is not enough to power your home alone. Although the solar panel system will contribute to heating and cooling your home, the available sunlight is less than summer months and will need to be supplemented by traditional grid-based power.

Lower Temperatures

With Canadians experiencing snowfall for much of the year, it should be expected that snowfall will have an impact on the efficiency of your solar panel system. As cold temperatures begin to sweep across Canada, snow that is in the direct view of the sun will begin to melt–opening the door for natural elements such as dirt and debris stick to the panels, further blocking potential sunlight. In addition, snow can freeze and create layers of ice that will also aid in sunlight limitation. However, these weather effects do not prevent your system from generating electricity for your home. Solar panels have proven to be effective sources of energy despite the challenges.

Panels & The Weight of Heavy Snow

Modern solar panels are typically designed to withstand the weight of snow that may accumulate throughout the long Canadian winter season. Solar panel systems are constructed with sturdy material that can easily carry the load of excess snow. It should also be noted that solar panel systems are usually mounted at an angle. This angled positioning allows snow to melt from direct sunlight and slide off of the panel surface. Due to this setup, snow rarely accumulates on solar panel systems for very long–allowing your system to benefit from the maximum amount of sunlight hours per day.

Heating Within the Panels

Solar panel systems are designed to absorb sunlight rays to create heat. This method causes the solar panel surface to increase in temperature as it collects sunlight. This consistent heat generation aids in the melting of snow and enables a consistent and predictable level of power creation even as temperatures may decrease throughout the year.

Annual Energy Production

Although energy produced by solar energy systems is not as efficient during the winter months, the yearly energy production provided by the typical solar system should be considered instead of a monthly or seasonal approach. During the summer months, the daylight hours are significantly longer–resulting in excess energy production that can be sold back to the grid for profit. These outlier months should compensate the homeowner for the production loss experienced during the winter months where daylight hours are shorter which results in less sunlight. It should be noted that the bulk of the energy produced by the average solar panel system is the highest between the months of March and October due to the sun’s position relative to the horizon.

Clean Energy Solution

Excessive snowfall can have an effect on a solar energy system however, homeowners shouldn’t be overly concerned. The largest chunk of energy production on an annual basis usually takes place during the summer months. Modern Canadian solar panels are typically constructed with high quality materials that are designed with the harsh Canadian winters in mind. Solar panels are usually installed at an angle to allow for direct sunlight. This increased sunlight assists with heat generation and enables snow to melt and slide off of the surface of the panels. For this reason, it is rare to see an accumulation of snow of the surface of a solar panel system for very long. For decades now, solar panels have proven to be a consistent source of energy production that should continue to provide Canadians with clean, carbon-free energy for the foreseeable future.