Do Solar Panels Work In The Snow or Cold?

Short answer: Yes! Solar panels are actually more efficient in cold temperatures and lose only a small amount of their yearly power production potential when covered in snow. However, keeping your panels clear of snow can increase your yearly production by up to 5.3%.

Long answer: Many Canadians may be uncomfortable about switching to solar power because they are unsure about whether or not their solar panels will work during the Canadian winter – particularly when it’s snowing.

Well, lucky for you the Northern Alberta Institute of Technology (NAIT) has been researching the effects of snowfall on solar panels since 2014.

Here are some photos of their solar panels and snow research setup:

Solar Panels After Snowfall

Solar Panels Covered In Snow

Solar Panels In Summer

Solar Array for Snow Experiment

Solar Panels After Snow Clearing

Solar Panels Cleared of Snow

You can view LIVE data from this ongoing experiment by clicking here.

Solar Panels and Snow: Research Summary

  • If you clear snow after a snowfall, a 4/12 pitch roof (18.43°) will produce 5.3% more energy per year than if you don’t clear the snow
  • If you clear snow after a snowfall, a 6/12 pitch roof (26.57°) will produce 4.1% more energy per year than if you don’t clear the snow
  • On a yearly basis, solar panels at 53° generate the most energy with or without snow clearing
  • On a yearly basis, fluctuations in cloud cover can change your system’s energy output by 17% (regardless of snow clearing)

What This Means For You

This means that natural fluctuations in the weather cause 3x more variation in energy output than can be saved by clearing snow. Thus, snow should not be a major deterrent when considering solar panel on your home, but clearing your panels of snow after snowfall would still be a good idea.

Want to read more? Click here to check our your province’s Complete Solar Power Guide.

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