Green Inspirations Snowed in log cabin with solar power

Published on April 12th, 2012 | by Vivian Nelson Melle

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Is Solar Power Possible in Cold Climates?

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Rising utilities are leaving many homeowners wondering just how high their energy bills will get in the coming years. With solar power becoming more affordable, many are looking to the sun for energy. While it may seem logical that only sunny states can benefit from this natural resource, it’s actually a good choice regardless of where you live.

Solar power is possible in colder climates but there are important factors to consider and region-based decisions to make during the planning process. And according to Solar Thermal Panel maker, Poughcroft, you only need about five square meters of roof space which faces east to west through south and receives direct sunlight for the main part of the day.

snowed in log cabin with solar power

Snowed in log cabin with solar power

Using Solar Power in Colder Climates

While southwestern states definitely have an edge in the solar market, solar energy companies are enjoying increases in customers from all around the country, including northern states. The number one country in solar power, however, is Germany which falls 51 degrees north of the equator. That’s about the spot of Winnipeg in Canada. Germans receive about 64 sunny days per year and yet lead the way as one of the world’s pioneers of solar energy use. So long as the temperature gets to 32 degrees, the solar panels can warm up and melt light snow making them efficient. After heavy snows the owner may have to sweep off panels enough that the unit can melt any remaining snow.

And if you are worried about frost, no need to worry – at least in the case of  Ploughcroft Solar Thermal Panels, their solar hot water system has frost protection system.

{Cabin photo via Shutterstock}

sloped solar panels

Sloped solar panels allow snow to slide off allowing the system to perform efficiently

Maximizing the Sun in Colder Regions

The success of a system is determined during planning and installation when the slant of the system is conceived. In snowy climates a deeper slant will allow snow to slide off with owners only having to rake off excess snow after heavy storms. in the case of a home roof which hinders a good slope, ground installation may be desirable. Ground level installations often afford owners easier and safer access to panels for heavy snow removal. Specially designed rakes are used to clean panels and avoid costly damage. Simply using a plastic rake can and will damage the sensitive solar panels.

{Solar panel photo via Shutterstock}

wallet full of money

The ROI determines how fast your solar investment will pay for itself.

What’s the best ROI on solar energy?

The solar Return on Investment (ROI) looks at how long it takes for the investment in solar power for your home to pay for itself. While it may seem simple to calculate that southern, sunny states will make the money back faster that just is not the case. A helpful information graph at One Block Off the Grid shows that sunny Texas will payback in 14 years while colder (but greener) New York will only take 8 years. This is an important factor to consider and research thoroughly before deciding on solar energy.

And if you live in U.K.,  check out this calculator for solar thermal panel hot water system by Poughcroft, to see what your ROI is.

{Wallet photo via Shutterstock}

a family snuggles in front of a warm fire

A family snuggles in front of a warm fire

Your Utility History, Costs and Other Things to Consider

Time is of the essence. While federal and state rebate programs are high on the list of reasons to choose solar power, they might not be there forever. As solar systems become more budget friendly these rebate programs are less likely to survive. While it may be more expensive to initiate sun-powered utilities, the time to invest is now. How much you need depends on what you use, not the size of your home. It’s important to evaluate your energy use throughout the past few years and determine your needs based on your individual history. A couple living in a three-bedroom home will probably use less energy than a three-bedroom home with a family of four. It’s also important to know how to increase your energy efficiency. If a heater is your families sole method for keeping your home warm you may do well to utilize other methods like fireplaces and clothes layering for extra savings putting less strain on your solar unit.

{Fireplace photo via Shutterstock}

worker installing solar panels

Worker installing solar panels

Where to Start

Once your solar needs have been determined, finding a system is relatively simple. More and more companies are taking advantage of rising utility rates by offering affordable payment plans so homeowners can enjoy the benefits immediately rather than having to save up or take on loans. Costs differ from state to state. Louisiana has the lowest cost falling under $4,000 while a home solar power system will set you back upwards of $38,000 in South Dakota. Research several companies and talk to those who have units installed in your area. In colder climates you want to choose a company that specializes in snowy conditions and that has a history of meeting the needs of these climate specific considerations.

{Installer photo via Shutterstock}

Do you live in a solar-powered home in a colder climate? If not, is it something you are considering? 

This is a sponsored post by Ploughcroft that makes Solar Thermal Panels in U.K. 



MAKE SOLAR WORK FOR YOU!





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About the Author

Vivian Nelson Melle is a former educator and community counselor who decided to follow her dream of writing. She balances work to home school her daughter and enjoy crafting, photography, gardening, natural healing, cooking and anything that helps heal the earth and its inhabitants. She also writes for Green Living Ideas, Ecolocalizer, Mamita’s Creations and Phoenix Neighborhood Blogger. She is a writer for hire with a soft spot in her heart for non-profits and indie businesses.



  • http://jencrum.blogspot.com Jennifer Crum

    We would love to use solar energy but the costs are prohibitive. It would cost us more to start up than it would save us in the long run. I wish there were an efficient, cost effective way to install solar panels.

    • http://importantmedia.org/members/nelsonmelle/ Vivian Nelson Melle

      I agree, Jennifer. Hopefully the price will come down as it becomes a more common method for dealing with energy needs.

    • http://www.webosolar.com Chuy

      Hi Jennifer, there are companies like Solar City and Sungevity (USA) that will install a solar PV system on your roof for only $1000 down payment. This is via their lease program and you need to own your home. In most cases ROI is dependent on state and other financial incentives rather than the weather.

  • http://hofwriter.blogspot.com/ Ali Khan

    Solar panels will surely save a large amount of money which people pay for their electricity bills. I guess this form of energy should be used as it provides every benefit one seeks

    Ali Khan
    http://hofwriter.blogspot.com/2012/03/key-to-save-on-energy.html

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