Outdoor lighting can enhance your home décor significantly. Hence, choosing solar lights that look and work great in outdoor settings can be effective options to enhance your home décor essence.
These lighting options come in different styles and different settings. But, if you choose the one that is rated for outdoor usage, they will work well in your yards and rooftops without fearing the battery damage.
Cold temperatures such as snow, wind, hail, or rain can affect the battery condition of solar lights if they are not meant for outdoor usage. But, that doesn’t mean solar lights don’t work in winter.
Stay tuned with us if you want to know more about these lights and their effectiveness during winter.
How Solar Lights Generate Electricity From Heat?
Solar lights have solar photovoltaic cells, which contain semiconducting materials like silicon that create a chemical reaction as they come into direct contact with the sunlight.
This reaction releases electrons, which contain an electric charge, and flows through the panels to generate electric current.
This electrical current flow is then transferred into a battery, where we store it as chemical potential energy. It works better at night when the photocell (a light sensor) allows power to flow through the circuit containing LED light.
This light burns through the night until daylight emerges once again. When daylight appears in the sky again, it turns the photocell off and starts storing light.
To put it simply, the solar panels cause electrons to flow from their conventional stable positions. This flow also compels the silicon layer to pass through the electric circuit and generate enough electricity.
In most cases, a heat-transfer fluid is stored in between the solar cells that cause them to generate electricity from heat. Once the fluid is heated, it is circulated in the receiver to produce steam. The steam is then converted into a power generator that produces electricity.
However, not all solar cells have this system, and in those cases, the lights generate electricity in the ways mentioned above.
Do Solar Lights Work In Snow?
Snowfall affects the performance of solar panels positively and negatively. If the weather is windy during the winter months, it helps the solar lights generate better electricity. However, when snowflakes are present in the sky, they help reflect and scatter the sunlight.
Thus, photons are stored in the solar panels, and the wind ensures that snowflakes falling on the panels are clear. If this consideration is taken into account, solar lights will work in snow and will not hamper their power generation capacity.
However, if the snowfall is little to moderate, it doesn’t necessarily impact the solar lights. That’s because these snowflakes can be removed from the solar panels with a few windy blows, and that will help the panels function properly once again.
Another advantage of snowfall is it can take the dust particles away from the solar light panels, which are stored there from time to time. Heavy snowfall, on the other hand, can impact the solar lights’ performance negatively.
When the panels are completely covered under the snow, they cannot receive sunlight and cannot generate electricity. Thus, their efficiency levels will drop.
Moreover, if the solar lights are made of weaker materials, they may not be able to bear the heavyweight of snowfall. The mounting structure of these lights has to be strong enough to bear the weight. Otherwise, they will collapse when the snowfall is too much to handle.
Operating And Maintenance Tips Of Solar Panels
You can ensure the optimum performance of solar panels in winter if you follow a few tricks with the solar panel angles’ position and cleanliness.
1: Locate The Panels Differently
In places where snowfall is heavy, raising the panels by increasing the mounting angle could be an effective way to ensure the superior performance of the lights. If you locate the panels in a slightly tilted manner, you can ensure that the snow will fall off the panels pretty soon. However, this tip will only work if the snowfall is little to moderate.
2: Clean The Panels Daily
We know that cleaning the solar panels daily is a tough job, but if you want to ensure they work effectively during the winter months, this is the only way. Try to shovel off the snow from the panels with a rake or a broom, but you must do it carefully so that the panels are not damaged in the process.
3: Place Them In A Dry Place
Changing the location of the solar panel is indeed tough, but if you place them in a dry place during the winter months, you can save a lot of money on their future repair and maintenance costs. You can also wrap the lamp heads with a bubble wrap so that heavy snowfall can’t damage that area.
4: Maintain Your Battery Bank
Even if your solar lights are installed outside, make sure the batteries are installed indoors. If the batteries are also installed outside, make sure they are properly insulated to withstand the heavy snowstorm or wind blows. You should also keep on checking the batteries. If the temperature falls below 12 Volts DC, you need to recharge it again.
5: Conserve As Much Energy As You Can
- You should turn off the solar lights when you don’t need them.
- Make sure your house is insulated because if the house isn’t properly insulated, it will put more load on your solar panels, causing them to deteriorate faster.
- Exchange all your lighting source for energy-efficient bulbs, and you can also use thermal curtains to insulate your windows.
- You can also put a damper on your fireplace when you are not using it.
- You must check the air ducts for any leakage before turning the heater on.
Which Factors Impact The Productivity Of Solar Panels In Winter?
There are three main factors affecting the productivity of solar panels in winters such as temperature, panel cleanliness, and light availability. Let’s take a look at them here:
Solar panels tend to work better during the colder months. It is because there is lower heat resistance to cope with during this time that the solar panels tend to operate effectively. Colder temperature zones reduce the chance of overheating the panels, which is another factor that determines the productivity of solar panels in winter.
(ii). Panel Cleanliness
During winter, your solar panels have a higher chance of being obstructed with dirt, snow, and grime. If there is too much snow piled up in front of your panels, it can reduce the power production and reduce the efficiency of solar lights. However, this isn’t much of an issue since most of the snow can slide off of the panels if you just tilt them a little.
(iii). Light Availability
Solar panels catch the sunlight and convert them into electrical energy. Since the days in summer are longer, they perform more effectively in warmer temperature zones. However, winter months have a shorter span of daylight, which means they receive less light during this time and have lesser heat to convert them into electrical energy.
Can You Leave Solar Lights Out In The Snow?
If the solar light you’ve bought is rated for outdoor use, you can leave it in the snow. Each solar light package contains an indoor or outdoor package rating, so you must take a look at that before you leave it out in the winter.
Even if the light is rated for outside use, its performance can be hampered if there’s too much snow falling. Solar lights’ batteries work best in room temperatures, but their lifespan can be shortened if there’s too much heat exposure.
These lights perform the best if you leave them at an outside temperature of 68–72 °F. The days are usually shorter in winter than in summer. It means the solar lights get less time to recharge their batteries and power the gadgets during the winter months.
On top of that, if these lights are left outside in the snow, their batteries could be hampered. It can survive in these extreme conditions for 8 hours max. Their internal parts need to be more efficient to survive the tough climate, which is supposed to retain more heat than reflect them back.
It means you can leave solar lights out in the winter, but you have to check their packaging carefully if they are meant for outdoor usage or not. Even then, these lights can survive in the coldest temperature if you take proper precautions to maintain them.
If you live in a place where the skies are gray and the temperature is cold, you may face some problems with your solar lights.
The snow can cover the panels, which will obstruct light from going in. It means colder temperatures can reduce the efficiency of solar panels, and you may want to consider another lighting option.
These lights work best in warmer temperature zones. So, if you need further information on them, reach us in the comment section below. We will get back to you with a reply shortly.