How Does Winter Affect Net-Zero Living?
If you are considering net zero, you may be wondering how winter will affect your ability to produce energy with solar panels. Does snow affect the panels? Will the cold temperature affect the system? These are important questions to ask, as nobody wants to be in a blizzard and suddenly lose power! This could make for a dangerous situation.
Luckily, there have been many studies on this topic, and winter doesn’t have a negative impact that you might expect. In fact, energy production can be even more productive in cold snowy weather!
Snow Covered Solar Panels
Snow-cover is the most common concern with solar panel systems, but it actually isn’t anything to worry about. Firstly, solar panels are always installed at angles. This ensures to capture sunlight at different times of the day to maximize energy production. It also doubles as a preventive measure for snow accumulation.
Most times, snow will slide or melt off the solar panels. Because the panels are reflective, they conduct a lot of heat. This makes it extremely difficult for snow to build up.
If snow does build-up, there is still little to worry about. Your heat won’t cut off in the middle of a blizzard. A study conducted by the Northern Alberta Institute of Technology found that even completely snow-covered solar panels had just a 15% decrease in power production.
There is also a plan-B. Even if snow does cover the panels and there is a reduction of power production, it’s unlikely to affect or reduce your energy usage - thanks to the batteries used in net-zero buildings.
Batteries are used in net-zero apartments because some days energy production exceeds energy usage. On cloudy days and at night, you will be able to use energy that was stored previously. This acts as a back-up for times your energy production may be reduced, such as snow-covered panels.
Solar panel systems are also tested to bear the weight of snow-covered. Snow will not damage or break solar panels, even if there is significant build-up. If you still are worried about snow build-up, they made special rakes to easily clean solar panels.
How Winter Can Increase Energy Production
All electronics function more efficiently in cold weather than hot weather, so the cold isn’t anything to worry about. Aside from cold, snow can also actually have a beneficial effect on solar panels! That’s because solar panels convert photons (light) into voltage. Snow reflects light, so this means the available photons that would be lost on a normal day are easier to capture on a snowy day.
With all of this said, you can rest assured that winter will not affect your lifestyle if you live in a net-zero community or net-zero home. It is perfectly safe, reliable, and even more efficient in winter weather!