Published on April 12th, 2012 | by Vivian Nelson Melle4
Is Solar Power Possible in Cold Climates?
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.