Unlocking the sun’s secrets: is there a perfect season for installing solar panels?
While people are out enjoying the (somewhat?!) late summer sun, savvy homeowners are multi-tasking: contemplating how to better equip their homes to handle the coming winter. In this blog, we explore the resiliency and longevity of solar panels in all kinds of weather, throughout all four seasons, and examine the most popular times of the year for installing solar panel systems.
Britain’s infamous unpredictability when it comes to weather conditions presents little challenge for solar panels, which pull their weight come rain or shine (or snow!). Due to the nature of our climate, however, their output levels fluctuate throughout the year.
Longer days and clearer skies create the perfect conditions for solar panels
As you’d imagine, summer is the peak season for solar power. The clear skies and long days create the perfect conditions for solar panels, giving them more sunlight to absorb and more time to absorb it. As a result, more solar power is produced overall during the summer months than at any other time. This is unsurprising when you consider that, between April and September, there are more than 12 hours of daylight every day.
While it’s true that the photovoltaic (PV) cells in solar panels convert a slightly lower proportion of sunlight into electricity during a heatwave, the difference in performance is marginal. When temperatures exceed 25 degrees, performance drops by a minuscule 0.34% per additional degree. According to Solar Energy UK, even at close to boiling point, power output would only be around 20% lower, all other factors being equal. In an article published on 13th June 2023, they referred to live PV generation data from the University of Sheffield to illustrate this point, arguing that “if solar power failed to function properly in the heat, it would not have been serving 25-30% of the UK’s power needs each lunchtime for the past week.”
Spring is not far behind summer when it comes to solar energy production, and it takes the edge for efficiency, bringing the slightly cooler temperatures that solar panels like. While more power is produced overall during the summer, peak power output is said to occur at midday in April or May. And, while showers might not be enjoyable when you’re caught without a brolly, they do your solar panels a favour by washing off any light-blocking dust!
Crisp, cold mornings create cracking conditions for operational efficiency
During the cloudy, overcast days typical of autumn, solar panels continue to operate well (after all, a bit of cloud doesn’t block the sun – as anyone with a fair complexion who’s been sunburned on a cloudy day can tell you). And, while winter’s snowy spells might seem like a threat to the efficiency and output of solar panels, this isn’t actually the case. If you’re wondering how the sun’s rays can get through a thick blanket of snow, the answer is: they don’t have to! At Thrift Energy (and any good solar panel installer for that matter), we install solar panels at an angle that encourages snow to slide off, taking any dust or debris with it and leaving your panels crystal clean.
While solar panels are said to generate around a fifth of their usual energy production in the winter months, as long as there is daylight, they will continue to capture the sun’s renewable energy.
Cold, sunny autumn and winter mornings are actually great for solar panels, providing fantastic conditions for operational efficiency. The only downside to these seasons are their shorter days, which curb the number of daylight hours available. But this can be mitigated easily through the installation of a solar battery, which stores unused electricity for you to use once the sun has gone in, whether you’re snuggling on the sofa watching TV or putting your electric vehicle on charge overnight.
Winter and spring remain popular seasons for solar panel installation
Over recent years, there have been high numbers of solar panel system installations during winter and spring. According to industry figures (and reported by The Guardian), more than 50,700 households installed solar panel arrays between January and March this year. That’s more than double the number in the same months last year and the highest figure since late 2015. While this may have been driven by people’s desire to take control of their energy bills during a prolonged period of volatility, the January to March installation period makes good sense in terms of timing, too.
Winter is one of the best times of year to get solar panels. This is because, from October to February, we’re in the trough of the Solar Bell, which we’ve explained in depth here. In a nutshell, it’s a model that indicates when solar panels typically generate the most energy, looking at output over a 12-month period. When plotted on a graph, it creates a bell curve, as solar panels produce more energy in the months that fall in the middle of the year – from March to the end of September.
That said, the sooner you install solar panels, the sooner you’ll start making savings on your energy bills. Installations can take place all year round, delivering immediate benefits beyond the savings, including dramatically reduced CO2 emissions and an improved EPC score.
Solar power – it’s a win/win for landlords and tenants
Installing solar PV panels, according to gov.uk, instantly raises your EPC rating to B83, which means landlords are far beyond the minimum energy efficiency standards (MEES) barrier. Moreover, as of 2028, the government will require that all landlords have an EPC score of at least a C, so making sure your property has this high of a rating is crucial. While 2028 may seem far, it would be advantageous for landlords who do not yet exceed this score to take action as soon as possible, because the installation process of solar PV takes time, and failure to comply with the new EPC regulations would result in a fine as a hefty £30,000.
To find out more about the benefits of solar PV, get in touch with our team today.