Regardless of what time of year it is, switching over to solar energy is a savvy investment in your home or business. Being able to harness the immense energy of the sun and put it to work powering your home can help you save a bundle on your energy costs. However, as the year ticks by, seasons change, making it important to know the solar panel output in winter vs summer.
Solar Panel Output in Winter vs. Summer
During the winter, solar panels will produce an average of 50% less energy compared to the summer. Less output is produced in the winter because the panels have less exposure to the sunlight. They will still work during the winter, but the output will be much larger during the summer months with additional sunlight.
Influences on Solar Energy Production
In a perfect world, your panels would produce the exact same amount of energy every single day, giving you full control knowledge over how much energy they produce and allowing you to tailor your power demands to match. However, there are plenty of factors that change how much energy your panels produce, and many of those factors are dependent on the season.
These factors include:
- Geographic location - Our geographic location, and change in seasons has a significant influence over the amount of daylight your panels will see each day. The shorter days in the winter and fall will decrease solar energy production. It’s pretty easy to notice how much quicker the nights seem to get dark during winter months, and yes, that will have an effect on your solar panel system’s production. Fewer hours of daylight means less time for your panels to produce energy, which then means you’ll need to rely more on public utility energy.
- Time of day - Daylight hours tend to shift during winter months as well, and this isn’t necessarily due to daylight savings time coming to an end. When winter sets in, the sun rises later in the morning and then sets earlier in the evening, which does change how much power your solar panels can produce. It alsochanges the time at which your system will change over to public utility energy, which could influence how much your energy costs.
- Time of year (season) - The longer days of summer allow us to generate more solar power which can be stored and used on days that are shorter when there is less energy generated.
- Landscape - With the sun setting earlier comes concerns as to where your home is located. California isn’t exactly a flat state, and while the Central Valley has miles and miles of sprawling farmland, there are areas in the mountains that could find themselves in shade sooner than an area out along the coastline. These areas in particular are hit harder by the faster-setting sun, as they lose their direct sunlight sooner than others.
- Atmospheric conditions - It’s no secret that winter is subject to more days of cloudy or even rainy weather. These conditions reduce the amount of sunlight your panels are exposed to, which in turn limits the amount of energy they can produce. This doesn’t mean your lights will turn off on cloudy days, but it does mean that you may find yourself relying on more power from the public grid than you would during a clear day without a cloud in the sky.
What to Expect From Solar Production In Winter Months
So this brings up the question: does solar become essentially useless during winter months? The answer: absolutely not, in fact quite the opposite. For starters, solar panels actually run more efficient during cool winter months because the cool weather allows for a more even flow of electricity from your panels into your home. Likewise, the colder weather actually helps keep your panels cool, which increases their lifespan and longevity as well.
Nations like China, Germany, and Japan are all world leaders in solar energy, and they’re all significantly further to the north than California is. That means you can still enjoy the benefits of solar during winter, just to a different level. For example, many California residents will take advantage of friendly net-metering laws to build up a substantial credit during the summer months when their panels produce the most energy, and then use the credit to help offset the increased utility bill costs during winter.
For more information about solar power during the winter months, talk to the experts from SunPower® by Quality Home Services by dialing (800) 496-3074 today or filling out our online contact form!