Solar PV Power Output During The Winter Months

Solar = sunshine.  And sunshine = warmth.

So you’d think that hotter climates would have an automatic advantage when it comes to generating clean and free electricity from the sun.

But this isn’t necessarily the case.  In fact, the opposite is true.

If you take 2 regions with comparable sunshine but dramatically different temperatures – the colder climate will produce more total solar (photovoltaic) PV output than the warmer one.

Let’s review.

Cold Weather and Solar PV Power Output

It’s a bit counterintuitive, but colder temperatures are actually better for solar panels than warm temperatures are.

This relationship holds true across most types of solar panels – and has nothing to do with the installation process itself.  Studies conducted in laboratories all over the world clearly show that increases in temperature have an inverse effect on the total solar output of the panels tested.

In other words, the hotter it gets, the less efficient your solar PV system becomes.

This helps to explain why Ontario and Germany have had such tremendous success with solar power.  Despite being relatively cold, these 2 regions of the world are renewable energy leaders.  [For more information about Ontario and Germany, read our earlier post on solar PV output during cloudy days].

So if anything, you should be more concerned with how your solar panels will perform during the summer months.

All things being equal, your monthly utility bill savings will be less during June, July, August than they will be in December, February, and January.

So Why Is California Such a Major Solar Hotspot?

You might be wondering – if colder climates are better suited for solar PV output, why is California such a major player in the industry?  After all, our state is quite warm – especially in the south (i.e. San Diego County).

Well, what we sacrifice in temperature – we more than make up in pure sunshine.  It’s true that San Diego is relatively warm.  But we also receive way more solar rays than Ontario and Germany do.

In addition, California has expensive grid electricity (and the cost keeps going up).  This trend helps to make the “relative” cost of going solar way more affordable.

Why pay increasing amounts of money to SDG&E when you can invest in a power source that delivers clean and free electricity for decades?

In other words – warm or cold – San Diego is ideally suited for solar energy.  We have unbeatable sunshine, expensive electricity, and tons of green incentives (ex: rebates, net metering, tax credits).

To begin exploring your solar options today, contact us for a free consultation.