The Effect of Snow on Solar Panels

There is no doubt that solar panels generate less power in winter than during summer.  By their nature, solar panels react less to changes in temperature than by the amount of exposure to sunlight.  But winter days are shorter, with less time for absorption of the sun’s rays.  Also, while a dusting of snow is easily blown off, a foot of snow can shut down power production.  There are other factors preventing snow build up on your rooftop solar panel array, making the effect of snow on solar panels a positive one.

Effect of Snow on Solar Panels

Effect of Snow on Solar Panels

Research supports the validity of solar power even in snowy northern winters. You can read one such  paper by Pearce and R. W. Andrews, “Prediction of Energy Effects on Photovoltaic Systems Due to Snowfall Events,” published in proceedings of the 2012 38th IEEE Photovoltaic Specialists Conference. pp. 003386-003391. The paper is freely available at

Faster Warmup

One of the factors that make solar panels a good investment, even in snowy northern states, is the accelerated warmup.  When a small corner of a solar panel is free of snow, the panels silicon warms the whole panel.  Soon that snow buildup is sliding off the panel to the ground where it no longer impedes power production.  Many solar panels are installed on south facing roofs, inviting heavier does of sun to clear the panels more quickly.

Solar Panel Tilt

The tilt of your panels is important, especially when the sun is in lower position during the winter.  Not everyone can afford a racking system that allows you to achieve optimum efficiency.  Still this may not actually be a problem for many in the north.  If you live in a snowy climate, it is likely that your roof is already tilted to reduce snow build up.  That steep tilt is especially advantageous for your solar panels  in the winter.  It allows your solar panels to absorb more of the low sun’s rays.

The Effect of Snow on Solar Panels

We have emphasized snow because we recognize snow is a concern to many potential solar customers.  But it is not as much of a problem as it may seem.  Snow is not generally heavy enough to have much of an effect on solar panels.  Even a heavy wet snow will not remain on solar panels for long enough to do any damage.  This is because solar panels are designed and installed to allow maximum snow to slide off.  As far as electricity production goes, once the panels are uncovered, snow begins to enhance the sunlight your panels absorb.

In a phenomenon known as the Albedo Effect, the snow’s whiteness reflects sunlight, like a mirror. This same phenomenon that sunburns skiers on a sunny winter day also ramps up solar panel electricity generation.   So, contrary to common beliefs, the effect of snow on solar panels is increased exposure to photovoltaic rays.  Your electricity generation increases on a sunny winter days when snow is on the ground.

Get Informed

Renewable Solar Resources is a family run renewable energy firm focused on helping customers understand, design and implement clean affordable energy solutions.  The professionals at Renewable Solar Resources look at the whole home or business and analyze its efficiency.  Their solutions provide customers an affective, long term solar solution with a measurable return on investment.  Solar energy systems cost less than ever, which offers a faster return on your investment.  With a Renewable Solar Resources designed system, you can begin enjoying clean energy returns even in the winter, as you begin to save.

Are you considering a solar energy system for your business, home or community?  Renewable Solar Resources delivers expertise, knowledge and professionalism with no pressure.  Contact Randy at or call (888) 432-9024 today to set up your free consultation in the Plymouth and Vicksburg Minnesota area.