Solar energy is becoming a very demanding and popular energy source nowadays. As this energy is free and renewable it helps to reduce the electricity bill and also to protect the environment. Even though using solar energy is popular among people some are reluctant to convert their primary energy source to solar energy because of many wrong assumptions.
One of the frequent questions asked is how seasonal changes affect the efficiency of the solar panel. So in this article, we hope to discuss what season is best for the operation of solar panels?
Do solar panels work better in winter or summer? Actually, this question is very tricky as every season has its disadvantages and advantages in the sense of solar panel efficiency.
Even though many think that summer is very beneficial as it has a long sunny day time, the increased environment temperature is a big disadvantage. Even though many think that winter is not good for solar panel operation, the low environment temperature is very beneficial.
How does a solar panel work?
Before we get into the topic it is better if you have a brief idea about the working principle of solar panels. As we all know solar panels are made of materials like crystalline silicon. Solar energy consists of small particles called photons.
When these light photons hit the solar panels the energy of the photons will be absorbed by the atoms of the solar panel. This will increase the energy inside the atoms resulting in the ionization of atomic electrons. This ionization of atomic electrons will produce free electrons which will be flown in one direction. Then the current will be produced in the opposite direction.
The produced direct current will be supplied directly to the appliance work from DC supply or stored inside a battery to use when there is no sun. Stored direct current can be supplied directly to the appliance work by DC supply or can convert through an inverter to AC supply to use for appliance work by AC supply.
How does summer affect the efficiency of a solar panel?
Many assume that the summer is best for the operation of solar panels. But this is not always true. First, let’s see the advantages of the summer season.
- Due to the long sunny day time, the time that solar panels receiving the sunlight is long. This increases the input energy and increases the power output.
- In summer storms and hurricanes are less frequent. So you do not have to worry much about the protection of your panels.
- Frequent cleaning is not required during the summer if there is rain.
There are also some disadvantages during the summer:
- The optimal temperature for the operation of a solar panel is 25oC/77oF Peak efficiency of solar panels gets at temperatures 15oC and 35oC. Beyond 35 deg C the efficiency of the solar panels drops drastically. During summer the surface temperature of the solar panels can go up to 65 deg C. So this reduces the power output of the solar panel. The reduction of the efficiency of solar panels can be calculated by the value called temperature coefficient. This value can be found on the manufacturer’s datasheet that will be provided for you when you are buying a solar panel. This value indicates the percentage of the efficiency that will be reduced when the temperature increased by one degree above 25 deg C.
- Increased environmental temperature can damage and reduce the lifetime of the other components of the solar system like battery and inverter.
- If there is not much rain you have to clean the solar panels as there can be an accumulation of dust, leaves, or bird droppings.
Tips to increase the efficiency of the solar panel during summer:
- When fixing the solar panels on the roof leave a two or four inches space between them to allow airflow between the panels and the roof. This will help to cool off the solar panels and prevent the increase of surface temperature beyond the peak value.
- Place the other electric components like battery and inverter inside a shaded area to prevent any damages from the increased temperature.
- Cleaning of solar panels will increase the amount of sunlight received by the panels.
How does winter affect the efficiency of the solar panel?
Many think that solar panels are completely useless during the winter season. But that assumption is totally wrong as there are some advantages of the winter season when using solar energy.
First, let’s see the advantages:
- The Winter season has a low environmental temperature so this will help the surface temperature of the solar panels to be below the peak temperature. During the winter season, it is very hard for the surface temperature to increase beyond the peak temperature. So the panels will work with better efficiency at this cold temperature.
- Even though snow accumulation on the solar panel is problematic, having a thin snow layer is not much of a problem. Sunlight can navigate through a very thin snow layer without much problem. Snow reflects the sunlight and multiplies the number of light photons that hit the solar panel. This leads to an increase in input energy which ultimately increases the energy production efficiency.
- Colder temperatures during the winter help to cool off the electrical components of the solar system. This increases the lifetime of those components.
Then let’s see the disadvantages of the winter:
- Winter has shorter day times than summer. So this decreases the time you can get the sunlight which leads to a decrease in the energy generation rate/ efficiency of the solar panels.
- During the winter season, there can be heavy snowfalls which can result in heavy snow accumulation on solar panels. This blocks the sunlight which leads to a decrease in input energy. So the efficiency of the solar panel will be decreased.
- During the winter season sun is at a lower angle. So this can decrease the amount of sunlight received by the solar panels. This results in a reduction in the efficiency of solar panels.
- At extremely low temperatures the efficiency of the electrical components like the battery can become very low. This decreases the efficiency of the whole solar system.
Tips to increase the efficiency of the solar panel during winter:
- Angle the solar panels so it can receive more sunlight.
- Angled solar panels are very useful as the snow will fall off from the solar panels automatically.
- If there are heavy snowfalls you have to clean the panels. But you cannot simply rake the snow as it can damage the panels. So always hire a professional if you are not compatible enough. Hiring professionals will cost you money.
- Place the other electrical components like batteries in a storage area where the temperature remains at optimal temperature for them to have a good efficiency from your solar system during the winter season.
| Conclusion |
As we described through this article every season has its advantages and disadvantages when we consider the efficiency of solar panels. Even though the efficiency seems to be very low during winter if there is not much snowing you can have good power output. You can always use the tips we have provided you to have good efficiency from your solar panels.