Do Solar Panels Work in Winter? Uncovering the Truth in Ireland'S Climate

Joe Brennan
Feb 24, 2023

Are escalating energy bills giving you a chill this winter? Imagine harnessing the sun’s power to warm your home and cut costs, even in the cold months. You’re probably thinking, “Do solar panels work in winter?” The answer might surprise you. This blog post is your guide to understanding how solar energy can be a game-changer for your home during Ireland’s winter season. Let’s explore the potential of solar panels, dispel misconceptions, and shed light on how you can leverage this sustainable power source all year round.

Understanding Solar Panels and Their Functionality

Solar panels, or photovoltaic panels, absorb sunlight and convert it into electricity. They comprise tiny units called photovoltaic cells, which facilitate this conversion. However, the question “Do solar panels work in winter?” often creates uncertainty, particularly in regions with harsh winter conditions like Ireland.

The Science Behind Solar Panels

Solar panels operate based on the photovoltaic effect. When sunlight hits the photovoltaic cells, it causes electrons to move, generating an electric current. The intensity of the sunlight determines the amount of electricity produced, but this doesn’t imply solar panels are ineffective during winter.

Do Solar Panels Work in Winter?

Yes, solar panels do work in winter. They generate electricity from light, not heat. As long as there’s daylight, your solar panels will produce power, even in freezing temperatures. Cold weather can potentially increase solar panel output as the conductivity improves in cooler conditions.

Effect of Temperature on Solar Panel Efficiency

Contrary to what one might think, solar panels work best in cooler conditions. While they do need sunlight to produce electricity, high temperatures can reduce their efficiency. This is due to the physical properties of the semiconductors used in the photovoltaic cells. Therefore, cooler winter temperatures can help solar panels work more efficiently as long as they receive adequate sunlight.

How Much Power Can a Solar PV System Produce in Winter?

The power output of a solar PV system in winter varies and depends on several factors. These include the size of the system, the angle and orientation of the panels, and, most importantly, the amount of sunlight they receive. On average, a 1kW solar panel system in Ireland can generate around 850 to 1,100 kWh of electricity annually. While this output would be higher in summer due to longer daylight hours and higher sun angles, a significant amount of power can still be produced in winter.

Factors Affecting Solar Panels’ Efficiency in Winter

While solar panels can work efficiently in winter, certain factors can impact their performance.

Sunlight Exposure

The amount of sunlight your solar panels get is crucial. Shorter days and lower sun angles in winter mean less solar exposure. In Ireland, daylight hours can drop to just 5-6 hours during the deepest winter, compared to 12-14 hours in summer.

Snow Coverage

Heavy snowfall can cover solar panels, reducing their ability to absorb sunlight. Fortunately, most panels are installed at an angle, allowing snow to slide off. Plus, the heat produced by the panels can help melt the snow.


Solar panels are designed to withstand extreme temperatures. They might even perform better in cooler conditions, as high temperatures can reduce their efficiency.

Optimising Solar Panel Performance in Winter

While winter conditions can pose challenges, there are ways to optimise the performance of your solar panels.

Proper Installation

Hiring a professional solar panel installation company like Going Solar ensures that your panels are installed at the correct angle for maximum sunlight exposure throughout the year.

Regular Maintenance

Keeping your panels clean and clear of snow and debris can significantly improve their performance in winter.

Battery Storage

Investing in a solar battery storage system allows you to store excess power generated during the day for use during dark winter evenings.

The Importance of Solar Batteries in Winter

Solar batteries play a crucial role in maximising the effectiveness of your solar panels, particularly in winter. They store your panels’ excess power during daylight hours, allowing you to use it as needed, such as at night or on particularly cloudy days. This not only provides you with a reliable power supply but also helps to reduce your electricity bills further.

Why Should You Get a Solar Battery?

A solar battery gives you power even when the sun isn’t shining. It stores the excess energy your solar panels produce during the day, allowing you to use it when needed. This means that even during the shortest winter days, you can still benefit from solar energy. Moreover, a solar battery increases your energy self-sufficiency and can provide additional cost savings by reducing the electricity you need to draw from the grid.

Solar Energy Requirements and Efficiency

How Much Solar PV Energy Do You Need to Power a House?

The amount of solar energy required to power a house depends on the household’s energy consumption. On average, an Irish home uses about 4,200 kWh of electricity annually. A solar panel system of around 4-5kW should meet this demand.

What Temperature Do Solar Panels Work Best?

Solar panels work best in cooler conditions. Although they need sunlight to produce electricity, high temperatures can reduce efficiency. Optimal performance is usually achieved at around 35°C (95°F), but they can function effectively in various temperatures.

The Benefits of Solar Energy in Ireland

Despite the challenges, solar energy offers numerous benefits for Ireland’s residents.

Reduced Energy Bills

Solar panels can significantly lower your electricity bills. Excess energy produced can either be stored for later use or sold back to the grid, resulting in additional savings.

Environmentally Friendly

Solar energy is a clean, renewable source of power that lessens reliance on fossil fuels, thereby contributing to a healthier environment.

Government Incentives

The Irish government offers incentives for solar energy use, making it a financially viable option for many households.

Going Solar: Tailored Solar Solutions

Going Solar provides comprehensive solar solutions tailored to your specific needs. We consider your location, energy needs, and local weather conditions to provide your home or business with the most effective solar energy system.

Quality Solar Panels

We use only high-quality, durable solar panels to withstand Ireland’s unique climate conditions, including the harsh winters.

Professional Installation

Our certified professionals ensure your solar panels are installed correctly for optimal performance throughout the year, including during winter.

Maintenance and Support

Going Solar also provides ongoing maintenance and support to keep your solar system running efficiently. This includes winter maintenance to clear snow and ice from your panels.

Embrace Solar Energy Today

Don’t let the winter blues get you down. If you’re wondering, “Do solar panels work in winter?” Going Solar is here to prove they do. We provide top-notch solar panel installations and offer expert advice to optimise their performance during winter. Contact Going Solar today if you’re ready to embrace the sustainable energy revolution and say goodbye to exorbitant energy bills. Let’s work together to harness the sun’s power, no matter the season.

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Frequently Asked Questions

Can solar panels work when covered in snow?

Yes, solar panels can still work when covered in snow, but their efficiency is significantly reduced. Snow can block sunlight, limiting the amount of light that reaches the photovoltaic cells. However, solar panels are usually installed at an angle, allowing snow to slide off. Additionally, the heat produced by the panels can help melt the snow.

At what temperature do solar panels stop working?

Solar panels do not have a specific “stop” temperature. However, their efficiency can be impacted by high temperatures. Solar panel performance begins to decrease at temperatures above 77ºF (25ºC). This is why solar panels can be more efficient in cooler temperatures, as long as there’s enough sunlight.

Are solar panels better in the summer or winter?

The efficiency of solar panels depends more on the amount of sunlight they receive than the temperature. In summer, longer daylight hours and higher sun angles can produce higher power output. However, in winter, cooler temperatures can improve solar panel efficiency, and as long as there is sufficient sunlight, they can still generate a significant amount of power.

What is the best climate for solar panels?

The best climate for solar panels is one with plenty of sunlight throughout the year. However, solar panels can still function effectively in various climates, including cold winters. Solar panels can be a viable and cost-effective energy source even in less sunny regions like Ireland. The key is to optimise their installation and maintenance to maximise their exposure to sunlight.

Do solar panels need sunlight or just daylight?

Solar panels primarily need sunlight, not just daylight, to generate electricity. This is because they convert the sun's photons into electricity, and more photons are available in direct sunlight than in diffuse daylight.

Do solar panels work without sun?

While solar panels are most effective in direct sunlight, they can still generate a reduced amount of power on cloudy or overcast days as they can utilize diffuse or scattered sunlight. However, they will not produce electricity in complete darkness, such as at night.

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*FYI, parts of this blog post were drafted by artificial technlogy. But rest assured, it's been thoroughly researched, edited, reviewed and me & my team.
Author Fahad Zahid
Founder @ Going Solar

Joe Brennan, the founder of Going Solar, is dedicated to making solar power mainstream in Ireland and meet SEAI objectives. With a focus on affordability and sustainability, he is bringing renewable energy solutions to homes, reducing costs & environmental impact.