In today’s energy-crazed world, we require electricity for tasks ranging from the most complicated to the most mundane. In the spirit of meeting these tremendous energy demands, harnessing solar power presents a great way to generate clean and renewable energy for many homes and industries.
So, how do you harness the sun’s power for everyday use? Solar panels. Other than converting solar energy to electrical energy, solar panels can help you save money on electricity bills, reduce your carbon footprint, and increase your property value. But how efficient are solar panels? do solar panels work in winter uk? Well, only if they are kept in reasonable condition all year round.
Like any other power generator, solar panels require regular maintenance to keep them in tip-top condition. An aspect of this maintenance practice we’ll be elaborating on today is how to keep your solar panels in good condition during the cold and cloudy winter months.
To this end, here are some tips to help you maintain your solar panels and maximise their performance throughout the year.
- Adjust The Angles
During the winter, your solar panels may not receive as much direct sunlight as they do in the warmer months. This happens because the angle of the sun shifts remarkably during the summer.
Therefore, to maximise the amount of sunlight getting to your panel’s power-converting solar cells, you should adjust your panel’s angle to match the sun’s position in the sky.
Ideally, you should tilt your panels at an angle equal to your latitude plus 15 degrees. For example, say you live in London and want your panels to capture more sunlight and generate more electricity. London has a latitude of about 51 degrees; hence, you should tilt your panels about 66 degrees in the winter to help optimise their output.
- Remove Heavy Snow
One factor that significantly reduces solar panel output and efficiency is snow accumulation. Snow, especially when piled up into ice sheets, blocks sunlight from reaching solar cells, preventing the required heat energy that solar crystals need to convert to electrical power. To prevent this, try removing any heavy snow from your panels as soon as possible.
You can use a soft brush or a broom to sweep off the snow gently or spray some warm water on the surface to melt the snow away. However, be careful not to use sharp tools or hot water as this could damage your panels or, even worse, cause electrical hazards.
As a precautionary measure, it would be wise to avoid walking on or climbing onto your solar panel when located on your roof, as doing so may prove hazardous and even slippery. Instead, delegate this task to professionals for safekeeping purposes.
- Reduce Energy Usage
Even with proper winter maintenance, your solar panels may still produce less electricity than in the summer. Why? Winter typically comes with fewer daylight hours and more cloudy weather.
This means you may have to rely more on the grid or a backup generator to meet your energy needs. To avoid paying more for electricity during winter, you should try limiting your energy usage by using energy-efficient appliances, turning off devices when not in use, and setting your thermostat to a lower temperature.
- Proper Battery Insulation
Batteries can suffer irreparable damage when exposed to low temperatures, like those commonly experienced during winter. Therefore, if you use solar batteries as storage for excess solar energy, make sure they are adequately insulated against cold weather conditions by providing proper insulation and coverings to shield it.
Keep your batteries stored in an enclosure with proper ventilation and insulation that maintains an ambient temperature between 20-22deg Celsius, as well as checking them frequently for signs of corrosion, leakage or other forms of damage.
- Monitor Battery Discharge
Another thing to watch out for when using a solar battery is battery discharge rate. The lower the discharge, the longer your batteries will last.
What is discharge exactly? Assuming you use less solar production or demand from heaters to recharge, discharging batteries more frequently may shorten their lifespan and diminish their effectiveness.
You can avoid this by minimising power consumption to keep your battery discharge below 50%.
The Bottom Line
Solar panels offer an eco-friendly energy solution to power homes or businesses alike, yet require routine care and attention in order to work as intended. Following are a few maintenance tips we discussed that may ensure your solar panels remain operational throughout winter season – providing clean energy while saving resources!