How Do Solar Panels Handle Oregon Winters

How Do Solar Panels Handle Oregon Winters

Are solar panels even a good investment in the Pacific Northwest? Like many Oregonians wanting to make the switch to clean energy, you may be wondering if winter weather affects how well solar panels produce electricity. 

Although we do get rain in Oregon about 8 months out of the year normally, there’s no need to bundle up or prepare kindling for the winter months. Unless you prefer the real thing over a TV fireplace for winter holidays. 

Professionally installed solar energy systems, like those from Purelight Power, will still produce enough energy to keep you cozy all year round.

Continue reading to learn exactly how solar panels work in colder, wintry weather. You might actually be surprised to learn how solar panels can function better in colder climates than our sunny neighbors to the south, and that rain and snow can help your panels perform better.

Solar panels are designed to adapt to whatever mother nature throws at them.

Winter solar panels in Oregon

Do solar panels work in Oregon during the winter?

Many people believe that solar panels mostly generate energy from the sun’s heat, but that’s actually not the case. To create the power you need, all your panels need to do is absorb the sun’s rays. 

When sunlight strikes the cells in solar panels, the process generates an electric current. It’s then routed to your home’s electric distribution box, and used to power your appliances, devices, and even that 12 foot inflatable snowman in the front yard.

But solar panels still need sun, so they definitely can’t work well in the rainy, grey winters Oregon is known for, right? That rain and the chilly mornings can actually help! 

When the temperature drops during the winter, photovoltaic (PV) technology in solar panels converts sunlight to electricity more efficiently. Like anything electronic, the components of a panel can overheat, so cooler weather helps to actually keep them at a temperature that is ideal for making the most of even just a few hours of partial, winter sun.

But what if the snow covers my panels?

You are right that if the solar panels can’t get sun at all, that does mean they can’t generate energy.

However, you’ve probably noticed that the majority of solar systems you see are sloped.

While this helps capture more sunlight, it also aids in the removal of snow. With just a little sunshine, your panels will generate enough heat to create a slippery surface that will send the blanket of snow sliding off your panels like a slip-n-slide.

Another unexpected perk: snowfall will help keep your solar panels clean and clear after a hot Oregon summer, and months of accumulating dust and dirt. Rain works this way too. 

We can’t help with the winter blues but we can help you get clean power for your SAD therapy light.

For readers in snowier areas like Bend, know that snow on your roof is unlikely to cause significant damage to your solar panels. Before they’re allowed to be sold, solar panels have their performance determined through a series of pressure tests. The higher the pressure rating of the panel, the more resistant it is to heavy snowfalls.

Snow is not something new for the experts at Purelight Power. Our panels are rated at 5400 Pa, meaning they can endure more than 110 pounds of snow per square foot. 

Just an FYI: attempting to clear your panels is not recommended; instead, relax with your favorite local brew (coffee or beer) and let the Oregon sunshine do its thing! If you take matters into your own hands and inadvertently damage the system, your warranty might not cover it. 

Although Oregon weather throws a wide variety of weather conditions at you throughout the winter months, or even each day, solar is still a good investment for Oregonians looking to save money and reduce their carbon footprint. 

In part because of net metering.

Oregon Solar Panels in Winter

Net Metering

Don’t you just love how the sun is out all day and the days seem to drag on forever in the summer? Solar panels love that as well. While you soak up all of those moments by the pool, your solar energy system is soaking up the summer sun and storing it back on the grid for wintertime. 

When energy goes back onto the grid, your meter actually runs in reverse. This may sound strange, but it just means that you’re creating extra electricity. Which the power company is required to pay you for with a credit to your account with them. 

You’re no longer in debt to the utility company, they’re in debt to you.

This process is known as net metering. Besides helping to make solar affordable for homeowners, net metering also means that during months of low power production, when you’re consuming more electricity than you’re producing, you have the ability to tap back into this energy supply.

Investing in a solar energy system for your roof means clean energy from the sun year round, day and night.

Solar panels in winter infographic

Stay Cool. Stay Cozy. Go Solar.

So now you know. You don’t have to live in Death Valley to save money and help the environment by going solar. Despite rain, snow, shorter days, or below-freezing temperatures, Oregon remains a solar panel hotspot. 

By working with a reputable solar installer like Purelight Power, you can ensure that your panels are installed to withstand Oregon’s harshest weather conditions.

Sounds too good to be true? There is a catch: not every roof qualifies our program that helps homeowners go solar for nothing out of pocket. To determine whether your roof is a good candidate for solar, this quick 30 second quiz can help you check to see if you qualify today!

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