The amount of energy produced by solar panels is a byproduct of a number of factors. One common misconception is that solar panels produce better in the heat. In reality the opposite is true. Cooler temperatures can yield greater output whereas very hot temperatures can cause overheating and the loss of efficiency.
Geographical location is a major factor. Because the earth rotates around the sun on a tilted axis, higher latitudes – areas farthest from the equator – will yield lower levels of production. That’s why systems installed in the southwest produce higher amounts of energy than those installed in the northeast.
Weather conditions such as precipitation, pollution, and fog also impact efficiency. But although clouds reduce production, they don’t eliminate it. Just like it’s possible to get a sunburn on a cloudy day, solar panels can produce energy even from indirect sunlight.
Here in the northeast, snow creates variations in production, but not necessarily in one direction. Panels covered in snow will produce significantly less or no energy. That’s why many solar farms build snow removal into their maintenance plans. On the plus side snow reflects light and can in some instances help performance.
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