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Posted: Stephanie|April 26th, 2018

Solar

How Does My Climate Affect My Decision to Get Solar

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Written by Stephanie
Stephanie graduated in information systems with an emphasis in cyber security management. She enjoys spending her time hiking with her children and her dogs, and playing video games with her husband.

snowy solar panels

Before considering solar panels for your home, you need to consider how much your climate will impact their efficiency. Weather conditions like snow, clouds, and hail can have an impact on your energy production levels. In this article we will discuss the different climate and weather issues you may have, and what you can do to solve them.

Winter Issues

For many, winter issues include heavy snowfall and thick clouds. These conditions can make it difficult for your solar panels to produce the energy you need for your home. Solar panels cannot produce any energy if they are covered in snow, so you'll need to be prepared to clear them off should that happen. For people who live in states that have snowfall for several months of the year, this can be a major issue.

To combat these issues, you will require panels that can handle the extra weight of snow, and your panels will need to be mounted at an angle so that the snow can fall off. Roof rakes can also be purchased to help keep the snow from piling up on your solar panels. If you keep your panels cleared off, the cool, sunny winter days will offer high energy production for your household.

Cloudy Days

Cloudy conditions are the worst for solar energy production. Clouds, fog, and mist can significantly reduce the amount of solar energy your panels can produce. However, even on very cloudy days, your solar panels will still produce some solar energy. People who live in even the cloudiest cities can still benefit from solar panels.

A great example of this is the United Kingdom. Recently, the United Kingdom hit an impressive solar milestone, in a six-month period their solar panels produced more electricity than their coal-fired power plants.

Another great example of using solar energy through climate issues is Germany. Germany’s sunshine levels are comparable to Alaska’s. But even with the lack of sunlight hours, their solar energy is a large contributor to their utility mix. While cloudy days are not desirable, you can still benefit from going solar. 

Net metering is a great option for people who live in cloudy areas. When you choose to use net metering, your home is still connected to the utility grid. When your solar panels produce more energy than your household needs, the energy will be sent into the grid. You are given credit for the energy you have contributed. When your solar panels are not producing enough energy for your household, like at night or during cloudy days, you can use the credit you have earned from the grid. Solar panels combined with net metering offers a smooth and dependable source of energy for your household.

Extreme Weather

Extreme weather conditions include frequent hailstorms and lightning. Most hailstones can range from the size of a dime to a nickel, but large ones can be the size of a softball. The damage to property can be very costly to the people who live in these areas. People who live in places with frequent hailstorms and lightning may be hesitant to use solar energy for their needs. However, Photovoltaic (PV) solar panels have been built to be extremely durable, and are great for areas with extreme weather.

The international requirements for solar panels is to withstand hail at 50 MPH. However, some solar panels can withstand hail at much higher speeds. In one test we can see a solar panel being tested with speeds up to 262 MPH. Solar panels have been made to withstand a lot of abuse. PV solar panels are used even in the most extreme environments such as Antarctica and the Mojave Desert. Scientists are even trying to create solar technologies that can be used on other planets—but that’s a little more than we need to power our homes.

From this article you can see that while climate and weather conditions may impact your production, that you can still choose to go solar. It may take some extra care, but it may be worth the effort in the money that you will save and the positive impact it will have on the environment when you lessen your carbon footprint. Looking for the best solar company in your part of the country? Visit our solar company page to learn more.

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