Surely you have ever wondered how solar panels would work or what performance they have when the days are cloudy or that winter season arrives with fewer hours of sun. Although these are doubts that appear especially when deciding on this technology, we can rest assured. Work is currently underway to optimize its efficiency in these cases of low sunlight. Various models are being developed that can perform well despite the weather or weather. However, we can be sure that they will work regardless of the weather. Next, we clarify possible doubts.
Why wouldn’t the solar panels work in winter?
Solar panels are part of one of the more ecological and profitable alternatives for home consumption. In winter they are efficient as in summer. Everything will depend on the hours of sunshine and the incidence. This doubt appears in many people when they are preparing to install a solar collection system in their homes. And is that if we compare some solar panels installed in the area of Andalusia or the Canary Islands with ones of the same model installed in the north of Spain, we can see that the difference does not have to do with the model but with the geographical area where you are. In times you have more hours of light than in others and the models continue to have the same performance.
If we study the production of solar thermal panels, we see that a hot water production drop, either for heating or sanitary use. The system continues to work normally but the reason for this drop is very clear since there are fewer hours of sunshine and the incidence of solar heat is less. Regarding photovoltaic panels, the photoelectric effect cannot be produced without sunlight. Then the production of electricity supply may drop.
In conclusion to what we discussed before, we can tell you that the performance of solar panels does not change depending on the seasons of the year, but because of the wear of the equipment as a whole. As usual, solar power systems typically last 25-30 years at full power if they are properly maintained. But we can assure you that the solar panels in winter do not stop working because “it is winter”. Whether we talk about solar thermal collectors, such as photovoltaic ones, they have a reduction in production in winter, but they continue to function normally.
To what extent does it affect the performance of the plates?
The doubts that previously may arise about the panel performance in winter is just a belief that if you reason it well, it has little influence. In other words, the performance ratio of solar panels is the same or very similar at any time of the year. If we calculate it by the amount of electricity or heat that they are capable of generating in each hour of sun exposure, we will realize that it is the same. It would be a mistake to compare the amount of energy they generate in a whole winter day, with the amount of energy they generate in summer.
To better understand the subject, we will give an example. Two photovoltaic panels that on the one hand a model has 60 solar cells and can deliver 320 W of power at 24 v; and on the other hand we have a model of 72 solar cells that deliver 385 W at 24 v as well. If both models are exposed to the sun for the same hours, one delivers more power than the other. Regardless of whether it is summer or winter, the performance of each solar panel model is the same at any time of the year. The system does not change. What does change is the “fuel”, which in this case would be the daylight hours.. In times of less fuel (something we cannot control), the performance of the system remains the same but less energy is produced.
And does it influence efficiency and consumption?
In reference consumption and efficiency in winter, we can say that they are influenced. With the reduction of hours of sunshine (fuel), the solar panels may not give us enough energy to cover the consumption of our home. And it not only happens with electrical energy but also with the production of hot water. That is why the professional technician must make us a calculation of the consumption of our average installation. Not to have in summer excess and in winter deficiencies. A balanced average consumption calculation, for the use of both supplies (electricity and DHW).
Another alternative given the impossibility of covering the consumption of hot water in our home is to have the support of a heat pump or another system. This will avoid that on cloudy days, we run out of hot water to take a shower or any other necessary personal use. There are very affordable DHW production systems on the market that are perfectly combined with solar energy.
Is it a good idea to invest in solar energy for the long term?
When they ask us this question, we must be professionals, analyze the current situation and find out what needs our home has. When installing a solar energy system we do not think if they work in winter or in summer they generate twice as much. Simply because the installation we propose is It will last at least 25 or 30 years and in them we will have a lot of savings in electricity or ACS consumption. If we talk about investment, the amortization usually ranges between 6 and 8 years, that is, in a maximum of 10 years the cost of the installation has been paid with traditional energy savings.
So much for Photovoltaic self-consumption as to support our heating or generate DHW, the benefits appear from the first moment of operation. So we should not doubt whether or not it is worth investing in a renewable energy system. If you talk to any professional, they will recommend that investing in solar panels is a wise decision.
Solar energy maintenance in winter
Yes, of course you have to maintain the team regardless of the time of year. The maintenance that is carried out is similar to that of other months. We say similar because we have to pay special attention to glycol, as if it is old or deteriorated, possible frost can affect the panels. If the condition of the liquid is not correct, it is essential to replace it with a new one. For the rest, the cleaning and revision of the connections is the same as the rest of the year. Remember to also check the supports and insulation, as well as the circulation pumps or other important components.