It is no secret that your solar panels give less output in winter. The sun is at a lower angle, the days are shorter and accumulated snow sometimes covers the panels. Maintaining solar panels in winter is a matter of following some precautionary measures. The following steps will help your solar panels perform better during the colder months:
1. Conserve Energy
While some are obvious, here are a few things you can do to help your solar panels in winter produce energy efficiently:
- Make sure you turn off the lights when you don’t need them
- Is your house insulated? Poor insulation causes heat to escape the house and hence more load on your solar panels
- Check your air ducts for any leaks before you turn on your heater
- Close the damper when your fireplace is not in use.
- Exchange all your lighting for energy efficient bulbs. A 15-watt energy efficient CFL can give you the same light output of light as a 60-watt bulb. All this while saving you 75% of energy consumption.
- Use thermal curtains to help insulate your windows
2. Maintain your battery bank
Now it’s time for you to start taking care of your deep cycle batteries for your solar panels in winter. Here are a few things you can do:
- Make sure your batteries are installed indoors. If they aren’t, make sure that the compartment for batteries installed outside is properly insulated, as lead-acid batteries can freeze at below zero temperatures.
- For off-grid solar systems, you need to have enough supply of anti-freeze distilled water for the batteries. Make sure you keep an eye on the water level
- Keep checking your battery voltage. If it falls below 12 Volts DC, you need to charge your batteries.
Most batteries don’t fail immediately, so it is wise to keep checking the battery voltage over time to identify problems beforehand.
3. Adjust the angle of your panels
One reason why your panels don’t receive enough sunlight during the winter is that the sun is at a lower angle. To remedy this, use an adjustable rack to modify your panels at a 15-degree angle.
4. Scrape off that excess snow:
After a heavy snowfall, some snow or ice may gather up on your panels. If your panels are on a high rooftop, then we wouldn’t recommend you risking to clean it. Most likely, the dark surface of your panels will attract sunlight and the snow will melt right off.
Depending on the kind of house or roof you have, here is a list of things you can do:
- Wait for the snow to melt off. The steeper your roof is, the faster it will melt and fall off.
- Spray it with a hose. Be careful of the temperature shifts while doing this, you want to melt the snow, not freeze it further.
- You can sweep the panels if you have easy access to the roof. Be mindful not to damage them
- You can also get a little creative and connect a leaf blower to a PVC pipe or a long plastic air hose to use warm air to melt the snow off your panels.
Now that wasn’t so hard, was it? Let us know if you have any more tips and tricks that can help maintain solar panels in winter.