The Seasons of Solar: What You Need to Know for Year-Round Energy Savings
Pueblo West, Colorado is a beautiful place to call home. We have hot, sunny days for doing all of our favorite outdoor activities. And minimal snowfall in the winter to make travel easy. The cloud cover tends to be consistent throughout the year.
The amount of sunlight hitting the ground is affected both by local weather conditions, like clouds or rain, and by the season. In 2021, our shortest day will consist of 9.5 hours of daylight on December 21. The longest day will consist of almost 15 hours of daylight and occur on June 20.
Investing in solar power
Are you thinking about investing in a solar power array but are worried if these seasonal changes will negatively impact productivity? Or maybe you already have solar power and are concerned about your output when the weather takes a turn for the worse?
Weather changes over the course of the year will certainly have an effect on the productivity of your solar array. But is it enough to be concerned about whether or not solar power is worth the investment? Let’s take a look at how the seasons affect solar array output.
Fall and Winter – Not As Bad As They Might Seem for Energy Savings
The colder months of the year fall roughly between October and March. During this time, daily high temperatures don’t exceed 54F. The coldest day of the year is around December 30. Averaging a low of 20F.
Not only is the fall and winter cold, they’re also the darker seasons. During this time, the average energy reaching the ground from the sun falls below 3.7 kilowatt hours (kWh). The darkest day is around December 21 and averages approximately 2.7 kWh. Doesn’t sound like a recipe for great solar output, does it? Well, you might be surprised to find that your solar array does just fine during the fall and winter months!
The reason for that is the photovoltaic cells in your solar array turn sunlight into energy more efficiently when the ambient temperature is cooler. You’ll likely see higher maximum power levels during the cooler days of winter than you will during the summer. But the caveat is that winter days are shorter.
Clowdy Winter Days
Now you might be wondering, what about how cloudy and overcast winter days can be? Are my solar panels still producing electricity? The answer is usually yes!
If you look outside and see shadows being cast by objects like your car and other buildings, then your system is producing electricity. If you don’t see any shadows, then the cloud cover is too dense for sunlight to penetrate to your solar panels. On average, your solar array will produce approximately 10-30 percent of the electricity produced on a normal, sunny day.
Professional solar installers, like Steel City Solar, take local weather conditions into account. Such as average cloud cover when they design your solar system. Their quote will include a realistic output you can expect your specific solar array to achieve.
Most electric providers include net metering. So even if you don’t produce enough on cloudy days, you’ll be covered by any overproduction on sunnier days.
Fall Rainy Days
The rain that comes with fall/winter weather will probably lower your energy production. Mainly due to the rain clouds that accompany the rain. But rain is actually good for your solar system. Regular rainstorms keep your solar panels free from dust and debris that could hamper efficiency.
Snowfall has the potential to block your panels from receiving sunlight, but not for long. The tilt of most panels and heat retention capacity means most snow slides off the panels quickly.
Spring and Summer – Crank Up The Sunlight for Energy Savings
April through September is the time of year where you really expect your solar array to produce. During this time, the daily energy hitting the ground from the sun averages approximately 7.0 kWh.
The brightest day of the year is around June 11, bringing with it upwards of 8.1 kWh. The sun is high in the sky, and the days are long. This translates to more longer sun exposure on your solar panels and thus higher energy production.
As we mentioned previously, the higher temperature during this time of year is harder on the electronic components within your solar system. So although the panels are getting more sunlight, their efficiency in transferring that energy into electricity will drop a bit.
In general, the higher amount of sunlight but decreased efficiency results in approximately 1.6 kWh per square meter per day more being produced in the spring and summer compared to fall and winter.
The Bottom Line on Solar Seasons
So you might be wondering how much of a difference that almost two kWh more in the summer months really is? It’s actually not that big of a difference when you take into account your energy needs during the fall and winter versus the spring and summer.
During the hot summer months, you’ll want that air conditioning to be cranked up. Which will use quite a bit more electricity than you use during the cooler months. So even though your solar panels are producing less energy in the winter, your energy needs are less, so you won’t notice much of a difference.
If you’re still wondering about the differences in seasonal energy production, consider talking to our folks at Steel City Solar. We’re experts at creating the perfect solar set-up for every homeowners’ individual needs.