Are you considering solar, but have some concerns about how your system will hold up in the winter or during a hurricane? If you are, you’re not alone. Here in NYC, we experience a broad range of weather throughout the year, and it’s an important factor to consider.

It’s normal to have some reservations about investing in solar if you’re unaware about how solar panels perform and tolerate seasonal changes in weather. The bottom line is that solar is for all seasons! 

We’re here to answer all of your questions about seasonal solar panel performance.

How do seasonal changes impact solar panel performance?

The changes of the seasons will no doubt impact solar panel performance, but not as drastically as you may think! The thought of seasonal variations in weather shouldn’t stop you from making the investment. Solar is an energy source for all seasons, regardless of the weather.

But when there are less daylight hours and more inclement weather in the winter, you may see slight downticks in energy production, and therefore slightly higher Con Ed bills

Plus, you’ll have to consider your energy consumption throughout the year as well. For example, you may have more visitors at your home in the fall or winter months due to the holidays than you do in the middle of summer. What this means is that you may not rack up as many net metering credits on your Con Ed bills, depending on how much people are using your electricity around these particular seasons.

This means it’s best to be more conscious of how much energy you’ll offset when it comes to seasons where there are shorter days (less sunlight) and more household members.

New York City solar panel owner's net metering summary on Con Edison bill showing seasonal solar panel performance
Here’s a local solar owner’s recent net metering summary. As you can see, this customer banked enough net metering credits throughout the year to cover all of their energy needs, except for the months of December and January.

What are the best months for solar production in NYC?

Needless to say, solar works best when there’s sunshine! So it follows that the best seasons for energy production are the spring and summer. These seasons are the best time for solar because there will be longer days and more sun for your panels to pick up direct sunlight.

Weather that Impacts Solar in the Fall and Winter Months 

Does cold weather impact solar performance? 

It’s a commonly held solar myth that solar panel systems only work in hot weather, where the sun is shining longer due to longer days. But this is a misconception: solar panels absorb sunlight to generate electricity, not heat from the sun. So even on a 30 degree day in the middle of February, your panels will still be producing energy. 

Fun fact: there’s a possibility that solar panels actually work better in colder months

Thanks to chemistry, electrons rest in cooler temperatures (low energy) and are activated by increasing sunlight (high energy). This causes better production of solar power due to the electron absorbing the energy and moving it to a higher energy state. 

How does heavy snow impact solar energy production? 

Heavy snow can reduce the amount of direct sunlight hitting the solar cells, but it does not drastically reduce solar power generation. A five-year study shows that snowfall only results in a 3% energy loss for solar panels, this means that snow and ice do not typically impact performance. 

This also means that solar panel maintenance does not include removing snow and ice. Your panels will be angled to allow snow to melt or drift off naturally.

Do solar panels work if they’re covered in ice? 

The chances of production problems arising from ice due to freezing temperatures are slim. Since ice is transparent, sunrays will simply go through them to reach your solar cells. 

Fortunately, solar panels are typically installed at an angle toward the sun. This means the ice will simply slide off the panels as it melts, preventing any damage. For this reason, residential solar panels do not need extensive maintenance from ice or snow. 
Want to learn more about how winter weather could affect your solar panels? We’re here to help. Get in touch with us!

Weather that Impacts Solar in the Spring and Summer Months

Does humidity affect the performance of solar panels?

Humidity can affect the performance of solar panels. It’s a common misconception that the hotter the weather is outside, the better the performance of your solar panels will be. Although all solar panels are created to produce energy, not all solar panels work the same under humid conditions. 

All solar panels come with rated output specifications, which are dependent on certain temperatures. Solar panel output specifications help you understand how your solar panels should work under normal conditions and how they will function under abnormal weather conditions.

Depending on the panel, location, and typical climate, high temperatures can reduce solar panel efficiency by 10-25%. For this reason, it’s important to work with a solar installer who uses high quality solar panels – REC is Brooklyn SolarWorks’s go-to provider.

How does rain impact solar performance?

Rain does not impact solar performance. Your solar panels will continue to produce, even on rainy days. 

However, if you live in an area where frequent rain or hurricanes occur, you should invest in a solar battery to store your power and provide energy security to you if there’s an outage. Batteries are also helpful if you’re experiencing low production on a day where the clouds are very dense. 

Unfortunately, however, installing residential batteries in NYC is currently not possible due to FDNY policy. But when that policy changes, Brooklyn SolarWorks can retrofit all systems to accommodate batteries.

What happens if my solar panels get struck by lightning?

If there’s a thunderstorm, there is a very, very small chance that your solar panels could get struck by lightning – about the same odds as anything outdoors getting struck by lightning. In the very rare case that this happens, your system could experience some damage to its electrical components, such as its inverter.

If any part of your system has been damaged or is malfunctioning, we urge you to call your installer for help with repairs and resolving the issue. In rare cases like this, it’s important to work with an installer who provides a comprehensive warranty package. 

At Brooklyn SolarWorks, we provide a 30 year umbrella warranty that covers all parts of your solar PV system. In the event that your system is damaged, we’ll be sure to repair it as soon as possible. 

To learn more about our warranty options and commitment to customer satisfaction, contact us!

Do solar panels hold up in strong winds? 

This is one of the most frequently asked questions when it comes to investing in a solar PV system here in New York City, as our hurricane season can be intense. But rest assured, the idea that your solar panels will fly away in strong winds is one of the most common misconceptions out there. 

When you work with a quality solar installer, you’re investing in a system that will hold up against hurricane-strength winds. Here at Brooklyn SolarWorks, our team ensures maximum stability by bolting the system to the roof’s underlying rafters using watertight connections called OMG. Our Solar Canopy can has been tested extensively and proven to withstand a load of 48,000 pounds. This is equivalent to winds speeds of over 120 mph, and far exceeds the city’s wind requirements.

The Brooklyn Solar Canopy was designed to secure solar panels on a flat roof even in harsh weather.
Our Brooklyn Solar Canopy undergoing a load test, in which it was proven to hold 48,000 pounds.

How do cloudy days impact solar energy?

Cloudy days will not be a great hindrance to your solar production. Sunbeams still reach the earth regardless of how cloudy the sky is, but the more dense these clouds are, the less energy your system will produce. Though production may decrease slightly, no need to worry – you’ll still have access to power even with some cloud cover overhead. 

Contrary to belief, there may be times where clouds increase solar production. On cloudy days, there may be brief moments when a phenomenon called “edge-of-cloud” happens. This is when clouds pass by the sun and their edges magnify sunlight which in turn causes intensified sunbeams to reach your solar panels.

Other Factors that Impact Solar Panel Efficiency

Angle of the Sun

The angle and direction in which your solar panels are installed are a huge factor in solar panel performance. For most of the United States, it’s best for panels to be at an angle of 30 to 45 degrees facing south. This is because we’re in the Northern Hemisphere, where the sun is always at the southern half of the sky; therefore, this is where you would receive direct sunlight. 

Time of Day

The time of day also plays a factor in when you’ll get the best production out of your solar system. But with that, we need to consider that these optimal times change with the seasons. For example, in the summer, we experience longer days and more sunlight compared to the fall and winter. 

When it comes to measuring the best time for solar, there’s a term called, “peak sun hour.” The peak sun hour is one hour where the sunlight reaches an average of 1,000 watts of energy per square meter. This is a lot of sunlight!

You’re most likely to receive this amount of sunlight only if your panels are directly facing the sun at its strongest, so the number of peak hours varies depending on the location and time of year. In New York, we see an average of 3 to 3.5 peak sun hours per day.

Temperature

Temperature can play a role in seasonal solar panel performance, specifically higher temperatures. All solar panels are manufactured with output specifications that determine efficiency in hotter weather conditions; at a certain point, panel efficiency begins to diminish with heat. So if it’s very hot one July day, you might see a slight downtick in energy production. However, this typically balances out considering the longer daylight hours in the summer.

On the other hand, cold temperatures do not negatively affect solar production – in fact, colder climates can be better for efficiency. Any decreases in production throughout the winter will mainly be due to shorter days and snow.

Solar Energy is for All Seasons

Although seasonal variations in weather can cause changes to your solar production throughout the year, it’s a reliable energy source for your home in all seasons. 

While it might seem like there’s a lot to think about when investing in flat roof solar, we assure you that we’re here to make the process as seamless as possible and take all the proper precautions when installing solar for your home. All you have to do is sit back, relax, and enjoy the savings!

If you’re considering going solar and want to know about how our systems operate throughout the seasons, we’d love to hear from you. Schedule a free consultation with us today!

Recent Posts

How to Be Sustainable in Brooklyn

Sep 30, 2022

The sustainability movement is alive and well here in Brooklyn, and for good reason – being sustainable in Brooklyn is important for the health of our neighbors, city, and planet. …

How long do solar panels last in NYC?

Sep 12, 2022

If you’re looking into solar power for your home, you may have questions about how long you can expect your solar panels to last. You may have heard that solar…

2022 Federal Climate Bill: What to Know

Aug 17, 2022

Signed into law by President Joe Biden on August 16th, the Inflation Reduction Act is a huge win for the planet and the renewable energy industry. Here’s what this landmark…