Winter is here now and while we don’t have the blizzards and endless months of darkness suffered by our friends in the northern hemisphere, it is a bit chillier, there’s fewer hours of sunlight each day and what there is comes in at a shallower angle. Some areas of Oz even get a bit of snow now and again, which can actually be quite exciting.
When it comes to your solar panel array, you need to treat it a bit differently in winter to get the most out of it. Output can drop by as much as third if you let it, so here’s how to keep that power pouring in.
Cooler weather doesn’t mean less power
A big myth is that PV panels are less efficient in cooler conditions; in fact, it’s the opposite. For every degree above 25C your panels produce less power, so autumn and winter are actually your array’s best seasons. However, this is offset by the shorter days, the increase in cloud and even the odd bout of snow, but you can fight against it.
Give your array some autumn TLC
Of course, you should be looking after it all year, but autumn is the best time to clean your panels. Salt, bird poo, dust, sap and just plain old dirt will have built up over the summer, so it’s time to clean them off with a soft sponge or brush and some plain water if you can. If you can’t get to your array safely, then call in the professional cleaners instead.
Give snow the brush-off
If you are in a snow-prone area, then make sure you have a special brush ready to remove it. A snowfall won’t damage your panels, but it’ll stop them producing anything.
Try a new angle
Ideally, your panels should be getting full-on sun from 9.00am to 5.00pm, but of course in the winter months this can change a bit. If you can, change the angle of your panels so they’re able meet the sunlight head on at its shallower winter angle – this can make a huge difference.
It’s also possible that some branches may be in the way thanks to the change of the planet’s angle, or simply because they’ve grown over the summer, so trim or remove them. Remember to change them back in spring though!