do solar panels work in winter in Calgary

With over 325 days of sun per year, Calgary is an excellent location for solar power. However, many Calgarians wonder if solar panels still work efficiently during Calgary’s cold, snowy winters. There’s a common myth that solar panels become useless under a blanket of snow.

In reality, solar panels can still generate electricity in the winter months, even with some snow coverage. The winter sun in Calgary may be weaker and the days shorter, but solar panels can adapt to these challenges remarkably well. Modern solar panels are engineered to operate year-round, even in Alberta’s harsh winter climate.

Our team at Halat Electric knows the ins and outs of commercial and residential solar panels in Calgary, and we take pride in helping Calgarians make informed decisions about solar energy.  Let’s take a closer look at solar panel use in the winter – and some tips for getting the most out of your PV system during colder months.

5 Reasons Why Solar Panels Work in Calgary Winters

There are several reasons why solar panels can maintain decent electricity production even during snowy Calgary winters:

1. Most Sunshine is in Snow-Free Months

The sunniest months in Calgary are March through October when the city sees very little snowfall. The long sunny days of spring, summer and fall account for the large majority of solar energy generation over the whole year.

Even if solar output is lower in the winter months, the ample sunlight from March-October more than compensates. This makes the winter drop in production fairly insignificant when looking at total annual solar generation.

2. Solar Panels Melt Snow Quickly

Solar panels can melt off light snowfall quicker than a normal roof surface. The dark solar cells are designed to absorb sunlight and convert it to electricity. This absorption also causes the cells to warm up to temperatures higher than the ambient air temperature.

This extra warmth from the panels melting snow means solar arrays can often clear themselves off after a snowstorm. Especially as sunny skies return, enabling the panels to ramp up heat production. This self-clearing ability reduces overall winter solar losses.

3. Sunlight Penetrates Thin Snow Layers

While heavy snow can block sunlight, thinner layers allow sunlight to partially penetrate and hit the solar cells. Studies show just a couple inches of snow only reduces solar output by 10-15%.

With Calgary’s frequent Chinook winds and sunny breaks between storms, solar panels often experience these thinner snow conditions in winter. Enabling them to generate decent electricity despite snow coverage.

4. Cold Weather Boosts Panel Efficiency

It may seem counterintuitive, but solar panels actually become more efficient at colder temperatures. Colder winter air helps solar photovoltaic cells operate more effectively on a cellular level.

This increased solar cell efficiency in cold weather helps offset some of the weaker sunlight in winter months. Keeping solar arrays productive even when days are short and skies are overcast.

5. Light Reflection Off Snow

Under optimal conditions, the low winter sun angles can cause sunlight reflection off surrounding snow to hit solar panels. This light bouncing effect can result in extra electrical generation.

Of course, this winter boost depends on factors like panel positioning and snow accumulation on the ground. But in the right conditions, light reflection provides an added winter solar bonus.

7 Maintenance and Safety Tips for Solar Panels in Winter

Cleaning snow off solar panels can help boost winter electricity generation, but safety should always come first. Here are some key maintenance tips for your solar panels during Calgary winters:

1. Don't Risk Injury Cleaning Panels on the Roof

Never attempt to brush snow off solar panels by going up on the roof. The risk of slipping and injury is too high, especially with icy conditions in winter. Let the sun and warmth naturally clear panels when possible.

2. Use a Telescoping Snow Rake from the Ground

Use a telescoping snow rake to gently clear snow off panels from the ground. Extend the rake to reach the solar array, carefully dislodging snow without scratching the panels.

3. Wait for Sunny Breaks to Help Melt Snow

Rather than immediately clearing off fresh snow, wait for the next sunny break. The sun will do most of the work, melting snow quickly off warm solar panels. Less effort for you!

4. Sweep Off Light Snow with a Soft-Bristle Broom

For light powdery snow, use a soft-bristle broom to gently sweep it off panels within reach of the ground. Avoid any abrasive brushes that could scratch the glass.

5. Knock Off Snow with Foam Pool Noodle

An ingenious snow removal tool for solar panels is a pool noodle float. The soft foam lets you give panels a gentle whack to dislodge snow without scratching them. It’s a fun way to get the job done!

7. Hire Professional Solar Panel Cleaners (If Necessary)

If all else fails, it may be time to call in professional solar panel cleaners who are equipped with the tools and know-how needed for thorough, safe cleaning of your system. They’ll have it sparkling clean in no time!

Let the Solar Experts at Halat Electric Power Your Home

We hope this article has shown that solar power can thrive and produce energy even during Calgary’s snowy winters. But if you have any other questions about solar performance in winter or how to optimize your solar array, don’t hesitate to reach out to our team.

With over years of solar experience in Calgary, we are the experts in winter solar production and maintenance. Our team can provide a full site assessment and recommend your home’s ideal solar panel setup and positioning.

We can also advise on best practices for safely maintaining your solar panels during an Alberta hailstorm or in the winter and ensuring maximum energy output. Rely on Halat Electric’s expertise to get the most out of your solar investment year-round.

To learn more or get a custom quote for solar panels that will shine brightly even on the darkest winter day, contact our Calgary solar professionals today! We are happy to provide a free, no-obligation consultation to see if solar is right for you.

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