Now is a great time to install solar panels
Americans seem to grow more environmentally conscious every year. The trend toward greater sustainability can be seen in consumer habits, business goals and government regulations. One popular way U.S. citizens continue to go green is through solar panel installations.
Most people depend on reliable electricity on a daily basis, but more consumers are becoming increasingly concerned with the source of that energy. According to a Pew Research Center survey, the majority of U.S. adults are in favor of expanding solar energy efforts. Additionally, 44 percent of American homeowners have either given serious thought to installing solar panels on their own homes or have already done so.
Breaking this data down by region, Pew found that homeowners in the West have been the biggest adopters of solar so far, with 14 percent of Western homeowners having already installed panels. However, homes in the Midwest have some catching up to do: While 42 percent have given considerable thought to investing in panels, fewer than 1 percent have taken the leap.
Cold weather concerns
One possible concern these homeowners might have is the effects that snow will have on the solar panels’ performance. While it’s true that solar panels work their best on bright, sunny days, of which there are few in the Midwest during the colder months, snowy or cloudy days can still provide significant energy and cost savings.
There are actually plenty of benefits to having solar panels on your roof during the winter. According to the San Francisco Chronicle, colder climates are ideal for high-performance solar installations. On the other hand, warmer climates can be less than optimal. Hot temperatures can begin to rapidly reduce efficiency once the panel reaches a temperature of 107 degrees Fahrenheit. One study found that after this point, every increased degree decreases output 1.1 percent.
Additionally, snow isn’t always a hindrance to solar panel productivity. While a blanket of snow right on top of the panel will certainly block some sunlight and therefore lower output, snow banks surrounding the devices can actually help, according to Joshua Pearce, an associate professor at Michigan Tech University, AccuWeather reported.
“When snow is on the ground and the panels are clean, the snowy surface basically acts as a mirror and you can get higher output,” he explained. “In many cases, you end up with a small boost because of the reflection off the snow.”
Getting started early
As the temperature continues to drop and the days get colder, more people will be bundling up. It might sound counterintuitive to invest in solar panels immediately before winter, but consider this: If you get your panels installed now, you’ll be all ready come spring, when your neighbors will want to get started on their solar projects. You’ll already be one step ahead of the game. Also, with fewer people opting for solar at this time of year, it’s possible that finding a contractor to complete the installation could be easier now than it will be in the spring or summer.
Finally, while you may not reach top energy output during the shorter, darker months of the year, your investment won’t be completely moot — you’ll still get a fair amount of solar power out of them on those bright, sunny winter days.