Solar Panels work by absorbing LIGHT from the sun, not heat

Ignorance is a very, very bad thing. Last week, as North America suffering from extreme cold weather because of a phenomenon called “polar vortex“, Jim Hoft, founder of the American far-right news and opinion website The Gateway Pundit has tweeted that: “It’s a bit cold outside this morning in middle America… Aren’t you glad you aren’t heating your home with a solar panel like nitwit socialist @AOC is demanding?” (@AOC is the American politician and activist Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez here.) What Jim Hoft says is flat-out wrong. Solar panels DO work in the cold. They work by absorbing LIGHT from the sun, not heat.

Tweet of Jim Hoft about solar panels
Tweet of Jim Hoft about the cold weather and the solar panels

In fact, solar panels are more efficient at cooler temperatures. Furthermore, white snow can act like a mirror to reflect more light on them.

You’re likely to produce less energy in the winter months, but that’s not because of the cold – it’s because the days are a bit shorter, especially in the northern latitudes.

NASA has put a few rovers and landers on Mars in recent decades, and they were all solar-powered (with the exception of Curiosity rover – which uses an RTG – a Radioisotope Thermal Generator, which converts the heat from a decaying 5-kg slug of plutonium into electricity using Peltier devices). And Mars is an extremely cold place with an average temperature of -63 °C (210 K; −81 °F). Actual temperature measurements at the Viking landers’ site range from −17.2 °C (256.0 K; 1.0 °F) to −107 °C (166 K; −161 °F).

What’s depressing is that this guy has a big reach on social media. So many people are getting misinformed by nonsense like this.

How do solar panels work?

In the video above, physicist Nick Lucid, also known as “The Science Asylum” explains how do solar panels work (by turning light energy into electrical energy). Photovoltaic modules use light energy (photons) from the Sun to generate electricity through the photovoltaic effect.
Coal? Wind? Solar? Which ACTUALLY Works Better in Winter? (feat. The Space Gal, Emily Calandrelli)
Last week was the #polarvortex and during the chill out more than a few conservative commentators were losing their minds. A few even claimed SOLAR PANELS don’t WORK in the WINTER! Is that true? How DOES #renewableenergy perform in the coldest months of the year compared to coal and natural gas? What’s better? I was curious, so I looked into it, and was quite surprised with the result.
Solar Panels on top of the Roof
Solar panels work by absorbing light from the sun, not heat. Image source: PXHere

Sources

M. Özgür Nevres

I am a software developer, an ex-road racing cyclist, and a science enthusiast. Also an animal lover! I write about the planet Earth and science on this website, ourplnt.com. You can check out my social media profiles by clicking on their icons.

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