Using Your Solar in Winter Shouldn’t Mean a Drop in Electricity Generation.
Winter is here, with shorter days and cooler temperatures. One of the best things about living the “lucky country” is our weather, especially as winter in Australia, is still ideal for generating Solar energy.
When it comes to solar in winter, there area few myths about performance. One of the most popular misconceptions is that solar panels work best on the hottest days. This fact is actually untrue. Solar panels actually need sunlight, more specifically ultraviolet light (UV). The UV light is the most effective at creating a direct current. The only difference is that during summer the days are far longer, with obviously more light. The temperature does not generate the solar power. In fact, in terms of the sun’s heat, 25 degrees is the optimum temperature for solar panels to perform.
It is also important to remember that not all solar panels are created equal and it’s the impact of heat that can really highlight the difference between brands. This is shown in a module specification is called “temperature coefficient”. If the temperature coefficient rating of a panel is -0.46%, this means for each degree over standard testing conditions (STC = 25 degrees Celsius) the module’s output is reduced by -0.46%.
It is this temperature coefficient that comes into play with solar in winter. The cooler weather is the friend of solar, as solar panels can become more efficient in turning the sun’s UV rays into electricity. A blue-sky winter’s day can see some amazing levels of power produced on an hourly basis compared with summer. It’s no secret that solar energy production is at its peak when the sun is highest in the sky, and that’s when you’ll have the greatest amount of renewable energy at your fingertips.
Where there is an impact on solar in winter is due to cloud cover and shorter daylight hours which can pull down overall electricity output. Add to this solar production can be slightly reduced as the sun is lower in the sky, so sunlight doesn’t hit the panels at the optimal angle. As a basic explanation on how solar works;
- Energy is created when UV sunlight hits your solar panels and a direct current of electricity (DC) is generated.
- This is then converted to alternating current (AC) by your inverter and it’s the AC current that we use in our homes.
- Download our Solar Power Consumer Guide to learn more about how Solar works.
When it comes to solar in winter, there can be some decrease in Solar panel performance of between 2% to 15%. This is dependent on a number of factors, such as where you live, the tilt of your solar panels and how much accumulated dirt there is on the surface of your panels. Autumn and or just after the Australian storm season is the best time to schedule maintenance on your Solar system to ensure you are getting optimal solar energy production during winter.
To get the best results from your solar in winter, it is best to use home appliances during daylight hours. As most solar energy is generated during the day. By scheduling the use of appliances to daytime hours a household is more likely to use their own solar power instead of paying for electricity. Of course, the absolute ideal scenario would be to run high-wattage appliances (consecutively) on sunny days instead of gloomy ones if at all possible.
Using the guide below will ensure you are getting the best out of your Solar in winter:
- Make a list of the power rating of the various appliances in the household. This is a quick way to find out which appliances to run and when. Just remember that some appliances, such as refrigerators, do not use electricity evenly.
- Purchase or get hold of a smart electricity meter so you can monitor any surges in power usage.
- Stagger the use of other high-energy appliances like the dishwasher and the washing machine. Ideally they should be run during the daytime and preferably on sunny days.
- Vacuuming and recharging appliances such as electric toothbrushes and laptops again should ideally be done during daytime when there is more energy being produced than used.
- Lighting is one of the largest contributors to an electricity bill. To decrease the use of evening electricity, change any high-wattage spotlights to warm white LED lights, which will help save energy.
- Finally be proactive in reducing your energy consumption. Replace inefficient devices, shut-off devices, not in use and shift as much of your Solar energy consumption to the daytime hours as possible
Following these simple steps will ensure you make the most of your Solar in the winter months and save money in the process. Still not sure if your system is working optimally? Contact us here for a Solar Maintenance check.
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