Snow on solar panels

Do Solar Panels Work in Winter in Ontario? Yes, But There’s a Catch!

The question of whether solar panels work in winter, particularly in Ontario, is common. The short answer is yes. Solar panels do work in the winter. However, the efficiency and performance of PV panels during the winter months are influenced by several factors. This article will delve into how PV panels function in winter, the impact of snow and cold temperatures on solar production, and the benefits of using a solar power system in Ontario during the winter months. So let’s get started.

Understanding How Solar Panels Work

maintenance work on a solar panel

Solar panels, also known as solar modules, convert solar radiation into electricity. They do this through solar cells, which can capture sunlight photon particles and convert them into electricity. The photovoltaic effect is the name for this conversion process.

Solar panels’ function is to absorb direct sunlight, both direct and indirect, and then convert it into electricity. Again, this means that even on cloudy days, PV panels can still generate electricity, albeit at a lower rate than on sunny days.

Solar Panels and Winter Weather

In Ontario, winter brings shorter days, colder temperatures, and snowfall, which can impact how solar panels work in the winter. However, it’s important to note that solar panels require sunlight, not heat, to produce electricity. Therefore, even in cold temperatures, as long as there is indirect sunlight, PV panels can generate electricity.

The Impact of Snow on Solar Panels

Snow can affect solar output in two main ways. First, snow covering the PV panels can block sunlight from reaching the solar cells, reducing the amount of electricity generated. However, the smooth surface of most PV panels allows snow to slide off easily, especially if the panels are installed at an angle.

Second, snow can cause physical damage to the solar panels. However, high-quality PV panels can withstand the weight of snow. It’s also worth noting that snow damage to solar panels is relatively rare, especially if they are correctly installed and maintained.

The Effect of Cold Temperatures on Solar Panel Efficiency

Interestingly, solar panels are more efficient in colder temperatures. Besides this is because solar panels perform best when they are cool. High temperatures can reduce the efficiency of PV panels. Therefore, the cold winter temperatures in Ontario can improve the performance of your solar power system.

The Benefits of Solar Panels in Winter

Despite winter’s challenges, there are several benefits to using solar panels during this season in Ontario.

One of the main benefits of PV panels is the potential to reduce energy costs. By generating your electricity, you can significantly reduce your power bill. It is particularly beneficial in winter when energy bills can skyrocket due to increased heating needs.

Another main benefit is net metering. In Ontario, net metering allows you to send excess electricity from your solar array to the grid in exchange for credits.

One can use these credits to offset your energy costs when your PV panels are not producing enough electricity, such as during winter.

Maintaining Solar Panels in Winter

solar panels covered with snow in winter on several houses

Solar panels require maintenance, especially in winter. Maintaining your solar panels during winter is crucial to ensure optimal performance and longevity. Here are some key considerations and steps to follow:

Snow Removal

Snow accumulation on your solar panels can hinder their ability to absorb sunlight and generate electricity. While most solar panels are installed at an angle that helps snow slide off naturally, sometimes manual removal is necessary, especially after heavy snowfall.

However, removing snow from your PV panels is essential to avoid causing damage. Never use metal tools or stiff brushes that could scratch the surface of the panels.

Instead, use a soft broom or specialized snow rake for PV panels. If the panels are too high or the roof is too slippery, consider hiring a professional to do the job safely.

Regular Inspections

Winter weather can be harsh, and high winds or heavy snowfall can cause physical damage to your solar panels. Regular inspections can help you spot any issues early and address them promptly. Look for any visible damage, such as cracks or chips in the panels.

Also, check the mounting equipment to ensure the panels are securely attached and haven’t been loosened by strong winds.

Monitor Solar Energy Output

Keep an eye on your solar power system’s energy production. A significant drop in output could indicate an issue with your panels, such as snow coverage or damage.

Monitoring systems can provide real-time data on your solar panel efficiency and alert you to any significant changes in energy production.

Professional Maintenance Check

Consider scheduling a professional maintenance check for your solar system before winter. A professional can thoroughly inspect your solar panels, mounting equipment, wiring, and inverter to ensure everything is in good working order.

They can also provide specific recommendations for winter maintenance based on your particular solar array and location.

Preventing Snow Damage

While the high-quality solar panel can withstand the weight of snow, it’s still essential to prevent excessive accumulation. If you live in an area with heavy snowfall, consider installing solar panel covers or shields to protect your panels from the weight of the snow.

In conclusion, maintaining your solar panels in winter involves regular snow removal, inspections, monitoring of solar production, and professional check-ups. With these steps, you can ensure your solar panels function efficiently throughout the winter. Equally important, it maximizes your solar electricity production and savings on your energy bills.


In conclusion, even in the heart of winter, solar panels continue to function effectively, including in regions like Ontario, known for their cold temperatures and heavy snowfall. The performance of solar panels, or solar performance, is influenced by various factors during winter. Such factors include the availability of sunlight, the presence of snow on the panels, and the ambient temperature. However, with diligent maintenance and system monitoring, solar panels can still generate significant electricity throughout winter.

While winter does present particular challenges, such as potential snow damage to solar panels, one can effectively manage these hurdles. Regular maintenance can mitigate the risk of snow damage to solar panels, and high-quality solar panels can further enhance resilience. Reduced daylight hours in winter can impact solar performance, but the benefits of more excellent operating conditions and net metering offset this.

Therefore, investing in a solar system in Ontario is a beneficial and practical option, irrespective of the season. The key to reaping these benefits lies in understanding how solar panels function under different conditions and optimizing their yearly performance.





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