Solar Blog

How Solar Panels Produce Energy During the Winter in Montana

by | Jan 20, 2022

The last best place regularly sees snowy winter weather. So you may be wondering if solar energy in Montana will generate enough power to keep you and your family warm through to spring. 

There’s no need to worry or postpone making the switch to solar. Your panels will still get the job done and keep you from having to rely on log fires and lanterns during the cold weeks of winter.

Below we’ll cover everything you need to know about how solar panels are affected by winter weather, and how they continue producing electricity despite harsher, snowy conditions.

Can Solar Energy Work in Montana During the Winter?

You don’t have to live in Arizona or Nevada to take advantage of solar energy. Some of the most popular solar states include New York and Massachusetts, two of the top ten most popular solar panel installation locations in the country.

Even during snowy winters, solar panels can continue to produce energy. But there are some important ways a solar energy system installed in Montana needs to be put installed on your roof. A professionally installed system like those from Purelight Power will be placed on a slope. Because solar panels absorb both heat and light from the sun, and have a slick glass surface, the panels slough off snow. 

You don’t need to hightail it out the front door with a broom at the first sight of snow. Clearing snow from solar arrays is actually best done by a professional or with specific tools so you don’t damage the panel, so having your panels installed right matters.

Montana Solar Winter CTA

But What If We Have a Blizzard?

Solar panels are all designed to withstand a certain amount of weight – and snow on your roof is rarely heavy enough to cause serious problems. How do we know? All solar panels are subjected to pressure tests to determine their performance. Pressure ratings vary according to panel, with higher pressure ratings indicating that your panels can withstand the weight of heavy snow.

Snowy weather is nothing new to Purelight Power. Our panels are designed with a 5400 Pa rating, which means they can withstand more than 110 lbs of snow per square foot.

With solar you can let the weather run its course and not worry. As long as your system was installed by experts like our team at Purelight Power, your array should withstand the worst that Mother Nature has to offer.

But does any of this even mean panels are still a good choice for homeowners in colder states? 

Yes! The percentage of total annual production lost during the winter is surprisingly small, making solar a reasonable and dependable investment for people looking to go green. Even if their state is covered in white for several months out of the year.

But Does Solar in Montana Make Enough Energy in the Winter?

Many people are under the assumption that solar panels collect energy from the sun’s heat. However, that’s not the case. Electricity will be generated as long as the sun’s rays make contact with the solar panel. Even though cloudy, rainy, and snowy weather may slightly reduce how much power your panels produce, it isn’t enough to be a problem.

Even during the coldest winter in Montana, your panels can work at top efficiency. You may be surprised to learn that cold weather actually helps solar panels to convert sunlight more efficiently. Plus, snow on surrounding trees and your roof will reflect sunlight, which the panels can capture, possibly increasing the amount of sunlight that the panels collect.

For the days where you want to crank the heat while it snows outside and gets dark at 3PM, you’ll have net metering.

How Net Metering Keeps Montana Homeowners Cozy

In the summer, solar generates more electricity than your home can use. That extra electricity is fed back into the power grid and stored there, and through the process of net metering you get a credit on your account with your power company. 

When you use more electricity than your solar panels can produce, like at night or during a Montana blizzard, you draw that stored power from the grid. With net metering, you can still wipe out your electric bill without needing year round sunny days. Your solar panels power your home year round.

Net metering is key to making home solar affordable for homeowners in the Big Sky state. Fortunately, despite power companies trying to get net metering phased out, net metering remains an option in Montana for now. 

Before Montana does eliminate net metering, you should consider going solar and reap the benefits!

Purelight takes into account the typical weather patterns in Montana when designing and installing your system. If you want to power your home with clean energy and save money on your electric bill, a little snow won’t stop you. Purelight’s solar panel energy systems designed for your home produce enough power to keep your home running and comfortable year round.

How to care for your solar panels during the winter

There is no better way to clear snow from your rooftop solar array than to do absolutely nothing. Zip. Zero. Zilch. Nada! You don’t need to lift a finger; just let mother nature do her thing!

Like a slip-n-slide, the snow that flurries down onto your solar panels will make its way off your array in a matter of days. Snowfall will actually help keep your panels spic and span, especially after a hot Montana summer and 4 months of dust and dirt buildup.

Why don’t we encourage homeowners to clear snow from their solar energy system? When you do, you risk potentially damaging your panels. Which might mean a less-than-fun call to your solar company about needing a repair. Most solar companies don’t cover damages from homeowners doing something they shouldn’t under their warranty.

It sounds weird, but not doing anything when it snows is the best option for your solar panels. 

Montana solar panel production during winter

Want to go solar and have a cozy home with clean energy?

Now that you know solar still produces energy during the winter, you should also know that winter is the best time to purchase solar. 

You can go green, save money, and power your house while taking advantage of the federal tax incentives before the rate decreases and you’ll get less back in the new year.

When you work with a reputable, local company like Purelight Power, you can be confident that your solar panels are made to last and properly installed. You can rely on us to get you through the long, snowy Montana winters. Take the first step, find out if your roof qualifies now!

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