Should I Buy Solar in the Winter? Pros and Cons

November 7, 2023

As the crisp chill of winter sets in, homeowners may find themselves mulling over the decision to invest in solar energy. It’s a common misconception that solar power is a seasonal affair, best left for the sunny stretches of summer. But is that truly the case?

Let’s dive into the considerations of purchasing and installing a solar system during winter, weighing the pros and cons, to see if it’s the right choice for you.

The Pros of Buying Solar in Winter

1. Take Advantage of Federal Tax Credits

One of the most compelling reasons to buy solar in the winter (before the end of the year) is the potential tax benefits. With a federal tax credit of 30%, investing in solar before the year's end could be financially savvy. If you owe taxes to the federal government, this tax credit can significantly offset your tax liability, providing substantial savings.

2. Off-Season Discounts

Solar companies often experience a decrease in business during the winter months. To keep their operations running, they may offer discounts or incentives for customers willing to purchase and install solar systems during this time. This off-season pricing can lead to savings on your initial investment.

(Talk with us about our seasonal discounts!)

3. Preparation for Peak Production

While your new solar system may not reach its peak production during winter's shorter days, installing in winter means you'll be fully set up to harness the longer, sunnier days of spring and summer. This foresight ensures you're generating maximum energy when production potential is at its highest.

4. Energy Independence Sooner

Starting your journey to energy independence as soon as possible is always beneficial. With each passing day, the energy your solar panels could be generating is energy you're buying from the grid. By installing in winter, you begin saving on utility bills earlier, even if the savings are more significant in sunnier months.

5. Less Waiting Time

Since winter is a less popular time for solar installations, you may benefit from shorter waiting times for both the planning and the installation process. This means your project could be completed much quicker than during peak season.

The Cons of Buying Solar in Winter

1. Lower Initial Production

The most obvious downside is that solar panels produce less energy (temporarily) in the winter due to shorter days and lower sun intensity. Your system won’t operate at peak efficiency immediately, which means it will take longer to start seeing the return on your investment during these months.

2. Potential Installation Challenges

Winter weather can create obstacles for the installation process. Snow, ice, and cold temperatures can make the installation slower and more difficult. Moreover, safety concerns for installers working in adverse weather conditions can also lead to delays.

3. Efficiency Concerns

Solar panels operate less efficiently in cold temperatures, although this is somewhat offset by the fact that they actually convert sunlight into electricity more efficiently when they are cold. It’s the reduced hours of sunlight in winter that have the biggest impact on efficiency.

Making the Decision

When contemplating solar panel installation in winter, consider your geographical location. In areas with mild winters, the drawbacks may be minimal. However, in regions with harsh winters, the cons may carry more weight.

Furthermore, installation prices don’t fluctuate much during the year, but the cost of solar technology trends downward over time. Delaying your purchase with hopes of lower prices can be a gamble with both prices and tax incentives potentially changing.

Final Thoughts

Purchasing solar in the winter might not bring the immediate gratification of watching your electric meter spin backward on day one, but solar energy is a long-term investment. Over the span of 30+ years, the few months of lower production in the initial phase become relatively insignificant.

Considering the potential financial benefits from tax credits, the likelihood of off-season discounts, and the opportunity to be prepared for high-energy-production months, buying solar in the winter can be a wise decision for many.

Before making your choice, it’s wise to consult with a professional solar professional who can provide detailed insights based on your specific situation. With a clear understanding of both the pros and cons, you can make an informed decision that brightens up your winters for decades to come.

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