All the folks at North American Solar Stores (NASS) know first-hand the many benefits of solar. From Springdale, Arkansas, to White River Junction, Vermont, and all NASS locations in between, we know that solar power is affordable, saves money on energy costs, and makes a huge contribution to a cleaner world. In our Wisconsin, New York, Pennsylvania, and other NASS stores, we frequently encounter consumers who have a lot of wrong ideas about solar photovoltaic (PV) systems. The more facts homeowners and business owners know about solar, the more they share our excitement about the greenest source of energy there is. The following are some common weather and equipment-related misconceptions about solar that we frequently help to dispel:
Misconception #1: Solar PV Panels Aren’t Effective in Harsh Winter Climates.
Solar panels, in fact, work very well in cold climates, including in snowy weather. The effectiveness of the PV system can be hindered if too much snow covers the panels, but it’s usually easy to remove the snow buildup with a squeegee. (Always follow manufacturer’s instructions for cleaning and removing debris from the solar system.) The dark solar panels help speed the snow melting process, particularly when the panels face south. Tests have shown that snow sometimes helps to increase the amount of electricity generated by solar systems, in a way comparable to snow skiers getting sunburned on bright winter days. Solar panels conduct electricity best in cold weather.
Misconception #2: Solar PV Panels Aren’t Effective in Cloudy Environments.
For solar PV systems to work effectively, UV light is all that’s required. Even the cloudiest places on earth have proven to be excellent for producing solar power. In fact, Germany ranks low on the number of sunny days they have every year, and Germany is the world’s solar energy capital.
Misconception #3: Solar PV Panels Aren’t Effective Without Southern Roof Exposure.
While south-facing solar panels are typically the most efficient, solar systems with east-west roof exposure are also effective. Ground-mounted systems are another workable option; all that is needed is an unshaded area that is relatively flat.
Misconception #4: Solar PV Panels Require Extensive Maintenance.
Once a solar PV system is installed, maintenance and cleaning are rarely required; and there are no moving parts. The average warranty on a solar system is 25 years, which is proof in itself that solar systems are incredibly durable. We recommend that the panels be inspected several times a year, to look for debris or dirt that may have collected on them. You can also schedule professional solar panel cleaners to periodically clean your solar panels.
Misconception #5: Solar PV Panels are Large, Bulky, and Unattractive.
Technological advancements in solar have contributed to the overall effectiveness of solar PV panels and to their appearance. Solar shingles are even available. Solar panels can be combined with roofing materials such as metal, asphalt, slate, and fiber-cement and look aesthetically pleasing.
Check back on our website for five solar misconceptions that involve costs, expenses, and efficiency of solar PV systems. Contact any of our NASS stores with questions about the benefits of solar power or for solar installation.