When it comes to how solar panels operate day in and day out on top of the roof of your home, there are few common misconceptions. We thought we’d clear up those myths with some facts about how solar works in all kinds of weather conditions.
MYTH 1: Solar only works in hot weather.
You need plenty of sunlight to generate solar energy and there are more hours of sunlight during the warmer summer months. It’s the light — not the heat — that solar panels use to generate clean energy. Solar panels actually work more efficiently when it’s not too hot outside. In fact, there are many instances of solar panels working in extreme cold, such as the Antarctic, or even to power satellites in outer space.
MYTH 2: Solar doesn’t work during the winter.
The Solaria solar panels used in GAF Energy roof-integrated solar systems have been subjected to extra reliability testing to expose the product to a variety of stresses, including severe heat and cold cycles and cyclic humidity and freezing. And, as we explained in Myth #1, solar panels work more efficiently in cooler temperatures, so while they may collect less overall sunlight in, say January, the panels will generate electricity any time there’s light — as long as they’re not completely obscured by snow.
If it does snow, due to the pitch of most rooftops, as soon as the sun comes out the snow usually melts and slides off the glass panels. It’s also worth mentioning that, depending upon where you live, thanks to a policy called net energy metering the excess solar energy you generated during the summer can be used as a credit with your utility when your solar production naturally decreases during the winter.
MYTH 3: Solar panels can’t withstand a heavy wind or rainstorm.
What’s amazing about the new GAF Energy solar system is that you’ll be getting a roof from the most trusted roofing company in North America and a solar system that’s designed to be part of that roof, similar to the way a skylight fits seamlessly into a roof. This avoids having to risk the integrity of roofing materials by puncturing them to install a traditional solar system, potentially causing leaks. A GAF Energy solar roof is a product that has been tested in lab conditions to withstand winds of up to 110 mph. That means it’s certified per building code regulations to be installed in areas with prescribed wind speed ratings of 180 mph. The wind test also includes wind-driven rain at a rate of more than 8 inches per hour — twice the rainfall rate of the worst rainstorm in history.
MYTH 4: Solar doesn’t work in cloudy areas.
Today’s solar cells are more efficient than ever, meaning they’re able to capture the sun’s rays even in low-light situations. In fact, cities such as San Francisco, California and Portland, Oregon have plenty of foggy or overcast days, and plenty of happy solar customers. Up and coming adopters of solar energy, such as cities on the East Coast with similarly overcast weather like Boston, Massachusetts and Newark, New Jersey.
MYTH 5: Installing solar causes rain to leak through the roof.
As we mentioned in MYTH 3, you’re getting a solar system that has been designed to be part of your roof. Because the GAF Energy solar system is a direct-to-deck installation, similar to a skylight, its seamless, waterproof set-up avoids leakage problems associated with conventional rack-mounted solar panels. Rack mounting or “retrofit solar” requires puncturing your shingles and roof to install the lag bolts that hold the rack onto the roof. This sometimes disrupts the shingles and waterproofing, causing leaks and potentially accelerating the degradation of your roofing materials. By comparison, DecoTech® is installed onto a fresh roof deck along with a new comp shingle roof and flashed in to ensure that the building envelope is maintained.