Plico Team 27/07/2022 20 min read

Does Solar Work in Winter?

Your solar + battery system will continue to work tirelessly throughout winter. While its productivity may slightly decrease because of an increase in cloud cover, rain or even snow, it will still support your household. Additionally, your solar battery will give you greater energy independence and provide a solution to blackouts or load shedding.

When we think of solar energy, images of radiant, blistering sun and a cloudless sky come to mind. In reality, however, modern solar technology is versatile and efficient in a range of environments. 

So, does solar work in winter? Yes! But we don’t expect you to just take our word for it – let’s have a look at what you can expect from your solar + battery system in winter.

 

Do solar panels work in winter?

Your solar panels will continue to produce energy for your home throughout winter, although their output will be dependent on what environment you’re living in. Because solar panels absorb energy from sunlight, the first concern to address is whether cold weather impacts your solar energy generation. On a clear, cold day, your energy generation will be the same, if not more. Sweltering days can reduce solar panel efficiency.

Solar panels can work efficiently in below-freezing temperatures. So in Australia, our winters are relatively tame. Of course, winter days are shorter in length, so there will be less time to generate your solar energy; this is why it’s crucial to have a solar battery. The right-sized solar battery will be able to store energy that can be harnessed when the sun disappears – saving you the expense of pulling your electricity from the grid.

So, solar panels continue to work in winter, but what about the most severe weather the season can produce?

 

Will my solar system produce energy in rain?

Your solar system will continue to generate useable power through rain, although efficiency will decrease. How much efficiency is lost will depend on how severe the weather is and how dense the cloud cover is. You may be wondering whether rain impedes or creates a barrier for your solar panels to maximise the available solar energy – it doesn’t. Rain can actually be helpful for your panels, giving them a clean so there isn’t any substance build-up on the face of your panels. As we’ve already discussed, the cold (at least the cold temperatures we experience in Australia) doesn’t play a factor in your panels’ energy generation.

Is there any risk of your solar panels, a high-tech piece of equipment, being damaged by rain? Fear not; high-quality solar panels can tough it out in the rain without any water damage (this is one of the reasons why buying quality solar equipment matters). Additionally, a quality installer will ensure your panels are installed so as to be suitable for all seasons.

 

What happens to solar panels in snow?

We don’t get a whole lot of snow in the land Down Under, but for those select areas that do, residents can take solace in the fact that solar systems continue to generate energy for their owners. If this weren’t the case, homeowners wouldn’t install solar systems in regions where it snows for more than half the year!

Light snow has a negligible impact on your solar output as wind regularly removes any build-up on the panels. A medium amount of snow will impact the panels’ efficiency, but they’ll continue to generate energy. However, large, denser snowfall that becomes trapped on the panels will prevent solar energy generation.

As mentioned, snowfall in general, but especially heavy, dense snowfall, is rare in Australia, so most Aussies won’t have to worry about having their solar systems hampered by winter’s harshest conditions.

 

Woman and dog staying warm in winter by the heater

 

Why are solar batteries important in winter?

Wintertime is marked by the sun’s disappearance and reappearance, a factor outside of any homeowner’s control. A solar battery storage system takes some stress away and increases the owner’s autonomy. 

When the sun is at its most powerful and your solar panels are generating the maximum amount of energy, it’s important that any excess energy is stored for when you need it. A solar battery gives you this opportunity. Excess energy is pushed to your battery, and when your panels can’t generate enough energy for your home, your battery will kick into gear and start pushing power to your home.

There are a few different types of solar batteries on the market, but lithium-ion batteries have become the most dominant type due to their versatility, reliability, lifespan and durability. Although if you live in an area that experiences severe bouts of sub-freezing temperatures, it could be a good idea to install your solar battery indoors.

 

Does household energy consumption go up in winter?

In general, Australians use more electricity in winter than in summer. Much of this added expense is from heating. Here are a few things you can do to reduce your electricity use:

 

  • Wear warm clothes! By dressing warm first, you’ll minimise how much you turn your heater on and how long you run it.
  • Choose a room and contain the heat in that area – don’t try to heat the entire house.
  • Be mindful of what household appliances you run. Take the time to learn which appliances use the most electricity and alter your usage accordingly.
  • If you’re in an older home, consider resealing windows and other areas of the house that lose heat through draughts and escaping air.

 

The typical Australian household will save by installing a solar + battery system, which will help when energy costs rise in winter. Still, homeowners need to be mindful of how they consume their electricity.

Read our article on how to save on your energy bills this winter for more practical tips!

 

What is the best angle for solar panels in winter?

A reputable installer will know the best angle to install your solar panels for efficient, year-round solar energy generation. The height of the sun determines the optimal angle of your solar panels. Meaning it differs depending on your geographical location. Moreover, the winter sun follows a lower arch than in summer, meaning that the optimal angle will slightly alter between seasons.

However, given that the sun is constantly moving and its arch is incrementally and imperceptibly changing, it’s impossible to manipulate your panels’ arch continually. That’s why an experienced installer will set your panels up to maximise the sun year-round, accounting for seasonal factors.

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What is the operating temperature for solar panels?

Every piece of technology has an optimal working temperature and an operating temperature range. The good news is that your solar panels are generally unperturbed by the cold and will continue to perform efficiently. The heat, however, is a slightly different story.

Excessive heat can negatively impact your solar panels’ performance, with lower quality panels being the worst affected. Higher quality panels are just, well, better and can tolerate higher temperatures (with solar, as much as any piece of technology, you get what you pay for). So the impact differs between panels, but as solar panels get to the mid-thirties in temperature, you’ll start to see a reduction in efficiency, which will continue to decrease relative to the increase in temperature.

 

Do I need to do extra maintenance on my solar + battery system in winter?

The short answer is no, not really. Winter doesn’t put excessive strain on your system that you would need to be upping the amount of maintenance you undertake. Annually checking your system over is usually the maximum you’ll need to do to ensure it’s running correctly. Of course, poorly installed or ageing systems will differ, but Plico members needn’t worry as we provide ten years of ongoing maintenance and monitoring of your system’s performance.

 

How can I conserve my solar power?

Knowing when the peak periods of solar energy generation are and maximising what you use it for is the main way of conserving your solar power. If you have an electric car, charge it during these peak times. Same with running high-usage appliances such as washing machines, dryers or heaters. This means that when the sun disappears, only the necessities will need to pull power from your solar battery. And the more appliances you can electrify, the more you’ll save!

Having the right-sized solar battery is critical to minimising how much electricity you’ll have to pull from the grid when you’re not generating solar energy (and, therefore, how big your bill will be). For a comprehensive look at estimating what size solar battery would be right for you, read our article: What Size Solar Battery Do I Need?

Getting the correct battery capacity is important, as an undersized battery will mean that you’re still pulling a significant amount of electricity from the grid. An oversized one will result in paying for more capacity than you can fill. Every household is different, which is why a Plico team member will always do a no-obligation site visit at the beginning of your solar journey, ensuring that your prospective solar system is the right fit.

 

Person staying warm in winter

 

Australia’s energy crisis is set to continue – weather the storm with solar.

Energy costs continue to rise and aren’t set to decline any time soon. Other cost of living expenses such as fuel, food and gas have also seen a swift increase, leaving many Aussie households feeling the financial pinch. 

The winter season may result in a slight decrease in energy generation from your solar + battery system; after all, you can’t control how much direct sunlight your panels will receive. But as we’ve seen, your solar + battery system will continue to generate solar energy to power your home, significantly reducing the pressure and fear of rising electricity costs. You’ll gain greater energy independence, free yourself from blackouts and help the environment all at the same time!

 

How does getting a Plico solar + battery system work?

Adopting solar can prove too big of a financial hurdle for many, and, unfortunately, the cost of solar equipment has increased in the last year. We’ve changed the solar model so more Western Australians can start creating their own clean and affordable energy!

Instead of the thousands of dollars in upfront costs you’d typically pay to purchase and install a solar + battery system, we’ve created a payment model that offers no big upfront costs, one low weekly fee and ten years of ongoing maintenance and support. You can look at some of our packages here.

We’re continuously assessing the latest solar technology and equipment to ensure that our systems are the most reliable, efficient and robust. Whether winter or summer, cold or hot, your solar + battery system will produce clean, green energy and help cut down your electricity bills – freeing you from blackouts and providing greater energy independence.

 

Interested in how much you could save with a solar + battery system? Use our Solar Savings Calculator to get an estimate or chat with a Plico team member on 1300 175 426.

 

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