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How Does Winter Affect Solar?

Solar panels’ day-to-day production is not as important as the annual production.

Winter-Solar-Panels

With a few more months of frigid Alberta winter ahead of us, people are always wondering if the snow will reduce their Alberta solar energy output. The answer is simple: Yes – but not as much as you think! 

But why?

Well, the first thing you should know is that solar panels produce much more energy in cold temperatures.  On a hot roof around +50 C, the voltage is 30% less than at –25 C.  And we all know the sun works just fine in the winter time, as evidenced by the need to wear sunscreen when skiing or spending the day outside on a sunny day.  

Along with cold temperatures comes snow, the impact of which is much less than commonly believed. The Northern Alberta Institute of Technology (NAIT) performed a 4-year long study where they swept the snow off one row of panels and left it on the other row and compared the annual output. The difference on an annual basis was a surprisingly low 5% per year.  

In the grand scheme of things, the solar panels’ day-to-day production is not as important (for grid connected) solar energy systems as the annual production. Power from your solar panels flows first into your home or business and any excess flows back to the grid through your meter, which measures the import and export into your building. Since the amount of energy lost to snow is so minor, there is very little benefit in going onto the roof to sweep or blow snow off solar panels. We highly recommend for safety reasons that business owners leave their panels alone, and let nature do its thing.   

How can we help?

When you get a solar proposal from Inferno Solar, we account for the weather in your area, the lost production due to snow, and annual degradation of the array in the cost/benefit analysis. We can also help you apply for the new Alberta Government ERA Energy Saving For Business Program.
We have numerous case studies with real data (from Alberta!) that back up our claims, and we would love to work with you on increasing the value in your own building with Watts on your Roof.  

Want to find out about how your Alberta business can get the most out of solar energy this winter? 
Drop us a line! 


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