More and more households are considering generating electricity at home by installing solar panels. In fact, in 2022 twice the number of domestic solar arrays were expected to be installed compared to 2021 – due in no small part down to the huge rise in wholesale energy costs.
This article looks into how effective solar panels are in the winter; whether now is a good time to get them installed; and what you can do to get the most out of your solar panels at this time of year.
How effective are solar panels in the winter?
Solar panels work by reacting to the visible light spectrum. This means, if it’s light enough to see, it’s light enough to generate some electricity.
Late spring and summer in the UK brings around 14 hours of daylight every day, with strong overhead sunshine and fewer overcast days. It’s when households with solar panels see the biggest savings on their energy bills and are exporting the most back to the grid too.
In the winter, we have fewer hours of daylight, and the sun is lower in the sky. We get more overcast days and we may even get some snow. Electricity generation from your solar panels in the winter might be around 10-25% of the power you would expect to generate in the summer months.
How can I get the most from my solar panels in winter?
Schedule your appliances
If you already have solar panels, you will know that you need to use the electricity in your home as it is being generated, otherwise it will feed into the national grid. The winter gives you a shorter window where solar panels are generating electricity, so you need to make the most out of this time by scheduling your appliances to run in the middle of the day, or when the light levels are greatest.
Washing machines and dishwashers are easy enough to schedule while you are out. If you are at home, you could also consider batch cooking in your electric oven or using a slow cooker to make your evening meal.
Keep them clean
It’s recommended that you regularly clean your solar panels to keep them clear from dust, dirt and debris that will affect how much sunlight can hit the panels. If you can access your solar array safely, for example if they are at ground level, this could be something that you do yourself in accordance with the manufacturer’s instructions. You can use low pressure water, a soft brush and a squeegee. Alternatively, you can find a supplier to clean your solar panels – a good start is asking your installer for recommendations. You can expect to pay around £250 for a professional clean.
Reduce shade on your solar panels
If your solar panels are very obstructed by shade or fallen leaves from trees, they will not be working as efficiently. Late winter is a good time to prune back vegetation in your garden – always ensure you have permission to do the work, and get a professional to do it if you can’t safely do it yourself.
Combine your solar panels with other green technologies
Combining your solar panels with other green technologies is a good way to use as much of the power you generate at home as possible. This could mean charging up your EV in the daytime when the sun is shining, or using your solar panels to help power your heat pump heating system. You could even look at investing in a home battery to store your home generated energy to use when the sun goes down.
Is winter a good time to get solar panels installed?
You can get solar panels installed at any time of year and you will start seeing savings on your bill in the very first month.
Reaching out for quotes and choosing your installer this winter will mean that you can benefit this year from the most efficient months for solar generation, which fall between April and September.
Good Energy are developing our very own solar panel installation service, based on our decades of experience in renewable electricity generation and supply.