If you’re considering getting a solar thermal system, one of the first things that comes to mind is the possibility of the system functioning properly during the cold months. The short and simple answer to this question is yes, a solar thermal system works in the winter. However, the downside here is that it’ll be a lot less efficient when compared to how it operates during the warmer months or summer. As a result of this fact, you’ll likely need to rely more on your boiler, immersion heater or any other backup heating system during this period as your solar thermal system will fail to contribute as much as it does during the warmer months. So what exactly is the reason why solar thermal is less effective and less efficient in the winter period? Let’s have a look!
As you know, solar thermal system banks on the sun’s energy to heat the water for your home’s use. During the cold months or winter, the sunlight becomes a lot less available when compared to the warmer months, as a result, there’s less sunlight that’s available to be used for its solar energy. And even more so at the periods when the days are shorter or skies are clearly overcast.
Also having a great impact on a solar thermal system’s output is heavy snow. Flat plate collectors normally have the capacity to cope better during snowy conditions as the light that’s able to travel through the snow will heat up the absorber plate - thereby making the snow slide off more quickly. However, the case is contrary with evacuated tube collectors which possesses a form of vacuum insulation that’s crafted to minimize the loss of heat, meaning they can’t generate heat to melt and cause the snow to slide off in a similar way.