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Do Solar Panels work in North Carolina’s Winter?

March 31, 2021

Contrary to a popular myth, solar panels do work in winter. Solar panels do not run on heat; the panels use sunlight to produce energy. In some instances, solar is more efficient in the cold winter months than in the hot summer months! This isn’t to say that the winter months don’t affect the Old North state. 

Here are just a few things to take into account during the wintertime!

Winter Months, Shorter Days (Less sunlight)

During the winter months, North Carolina averages around 4 hours of peak sunlight a day; this is in contrast to the peak hours of the summer months, which are a little over 5 hours a day. The difference is due to the shorter days during the winter month. Daylength in North Carolina averages around 9 hours, so there isn’t as much daylight available for the solar panels to absorb.

Reflective Snow and Cold Efficiency 

Though the winter months lessen the amount of daylight exposure that solar panels have, they can also bring advantages. 

White snow is highly reflective, and that reflected light can improve your solar panel’s performance. This reflection is called the albedo effect, and it is a performance boost for solar panels. So, the shorter peak sun hours can be compensated by the albedo effect. 

Cold weather is also an advantageous thing for your solar panels. Solar panels work more efficiently in low temperatures than in high. So, during the winter months in cities like Charlotte or Raleigh, the operating conditions will be optimal.

Snow on Your Panels

The only truly negative effect that wintertime can have on your solar system is snow accumulation. As snow pools on your solar system, it can reduce the amount of sunlight it receives. Thankfully solar panels are usually tilted at an angle, which permits the snow to slide off over time. Waiting for the snow to fall off can be a slow process though. You can quickly clear your solar panels of snow with a solar panel snow rake. Solar panel snow rakes are designed to clear off snow safely without risk to your solar panel system. 

Another worry, albeit a small one, is the added weight that snow might have on your solar panels. All solar panels are put through a variety of pressure tests, and their durability is guaranteed for a specific pressure range. North Carolina snowfall is mild, so the snow isn’t likely to exceed the maximum weight limit of your solar panels is unlikely. 

As you can see, the myth that solar panels don’t work during the wintertime is easily debunked. The Tar Heel state is one of the states with the highest solar panel capacity in the US.  And with the relatively mild winters of North Carolina, your solar panels are not hindered, and instead, in some cases, help with solar production.

Solar Energy That Works for You

If you want to save more money, modernize your home, and reduce your carbon footprint, then PES Solar is the way to go. We help make solar work for you by providing a free estimate and zero-down financing on residential panel installations. Contact us to get a free estimate on solar panels.