The cold weather is coming, and just as we start to change our clothes for the jumpers and coats, we need to know how to proceed with the maintenance of our photovoltaic installation. Surely there are doubts about whether it continues generating electricity during the harshest months of the year.
Well, we try to solve everything in this article, don’t miss it!
Does a photovoltaic system work in winter?
The answer is yes, of course. The panels are still exposed to UV radiation, no matter which season it is, the sun shines even behind the clouds. Photovoltaic modules produce electricity even when it rains or snows. The best thing you can do to obtain similar amounts of electricity produced during winter, is to make sure that there is no snow covering on your solar modules. We have to keep in mind that autumn and winter are the seasons when there is less sun than in spring or summer.
But we can, and should, take into account a number of certain maintenance operations to ensure that this loss of performance is as small as possible.
One of them is to shift our consumption to the central hours of sunshine, which will allow us to have a higher percentage of self-consumption, especially in the case of installations connected to the grid.
Another important factor to take into account is to know which devices are the most sensitive, as they may need more maintenance.
Most sensitive components of an installation
Those components are mostly exposed to the weather conditions, since they are usually located on the roofs and always outdoors.
Although their design and manufacture takes into account these details, it is better if we carry out certain care such as keeping their surface clean.
Another specific problem that may occur in winter is the presence of shadows. The snow or the leaves falling from the trees may cause a loss in electricity production. We have to keep in mind that a lower trajectory of the sun on the horizon causes shadows for a longer time as well.
If you live in a region where it snows frequently, or in winter there are more hours of shade, it would be a very good idea to choose to install optimisers on each panel.
The batteries are the most sensitive elements, and their ideal temperature is usually 20-25ºC.
In general, they react to the temperature badly. It is also important to be careful with the electrolyte especially during the significant dropping of the temperature. What needs to be done is measuring the voltage and density periodically and replacing every damaged piece of glass.
Locating the accumulators under cover is very simple and may remarkably help. When you do that, the electrolyte does not freeze so that the batteries function efficiently even during the hardest months of the year.
Another solution is to opt for gel batteries which do not freeze or directly make the leap to lithium batteries. We should consider such a solution especially when we live in the areas where the temperatures drop a lot. In addition, the mentioned lithium batteries are able to withstand low temperatures better.
So how do you have to maintain anything?
The losses caused by the lack of cleaning of the modules can reach up to 8% especially in dusty places, such as near the industries or main road areas. We can reduce these losses thanks to a proper and frequent cleaning of the panels’ surface.
To keep solar panels clean, you can simply use water with a small amount of soap to make rinsing easier. Be careful not to use harsh detergents or cleaning materials as they can permanently damage the surface of the panel.
The best way to clean the panels is to use a soft sponge and a small amount of dishwashing liquid as well as pre-wetting the dirt to make it easier to remove. Finally, it would only be necessary to rinse the panels with water without leaving soap residues.
It is recommended to carry out such cleaning about 3 or 4 times a year, or more frequently in dusty, dirty areas. During the winter it is also important to make sure that there are no snowflakes that may affect the panels’ efficiency.
We should also remember to check the different elements of the installation, from the inverter to the support structure, to verify that all components are working properly.
In LRP Energy we always seek to ensure the safety of our customers, so we recommend calling a specialist to perform the cleaning safely, especially if the panels are located in places difficult to access.
If you have any questions, do not hesitate to contact us so we can solve them.