Residents of wintery areas often wonder about the effect of snow on their solar panels. They often fear that snow will accumulate and it will interfere with energy production. They also worry that snow will add weight to the panels, which can cause to the roof and system. These are legitimate concerns, but there is also a low possibility of that happening. Yet, even if the chance is small, it could. If snowfall becomes a problem, you want to be aware of how to keep snow off solar panels.
Table of Contents
Snow Collecting On Solar Panels Is Rare
Solar panels do not need direct heat to work. They depend on the energy the sun gives off rather than the sunlight itself. That energy is all around us. Plus, as long as the sun remains, the solar panels will stay warm. So a light film of snow gathering on the solar cells is not a major issue.
That being said, it is not very easy for snow to collect on solar panels. That’s because the panels stay warm, and that warmth helps to melt the snow. They also have a smooth, slick surface that will help the snow slip right off.
So, on days with light snowfall, there is no reason to worry about keeping snow off your solar panels.
Look out for heavy snow fall
Heavy snowfall could create a potential problem. In this case, your panels may end up completely covered for a day or two or three. That blanket of snow will block out the sun.
Up to three days of snow coverage can hinder solar energy production. You should have some sort of power back up. You can have back up from the grid, solar battery storage, or a generator.
Is It Safe To Remove Snow From Solar Panels?
Industry experts advise against cleaning snow off solar panels. Doing so could void your warranty. If you are not careful, you may damage the panels. Worse yet, you could injure yourself.
These experts recommend leaving the snow melts on its own. The panels trap heat so they stay warm for a long time and will begin melting the snow. When the storm breaks, the sun will contribute to the melting process. The snow will disappear.
When Should I Remove Snow From My Solar Panels?
If you have a grid-tied system, interruption to your solar panel energy supply is not an issue. You can fall back on the grid to supply your energy needs.
Persons who live off the grid do not have the backup power the grid provides. A two or three-day interruption to your solar supply will deplete your energy stores. You could end up dealing with a blackout.
So, if you live off the grid, you may not have the luxury to wait.
It is always a good idea to have a backup power source if you live off the grid. You may want to consider a generator.
How To Keep Snow Off Solar Panels
If you do find yourself needing to remove snow from your solar panels, there are a few methods you can use.
Pay A Professional
Roof-mounted solar panels sometimes make access difficult. Climbing onto a rooftop is dangerous. That’s why hiring professional help is the best and safest way to clean snow off your solar panels. But these services are often expensive.
Many of us are firm believers in doing it ourselves. If that’s you, here are a few things you can do.
Install Winter Solar Panel
Solar panels have a long way. So now, there are solar panels made to repel snow accumulation. If you live in a wintery zone and plan to go solar, this is a good option to consider.
Sweep The Snow Of The Panels
To do that, you can use a roof rake. With a roof rake, you can stand in your yard and reach the panels on your roof. If the handle is long enough and your solar system small enough, you should be able to get all of it off. Sometimes, that is not always possible.
You may be able to access the lower portion of your solar panel system. The upper part could remain encrusted with snow.
If you have a ground-mounted system, sweeping the snow away is even easier.
Use Warm Air
Some people recommend using a blow dryer to do this. You will need a long extension cord. If there is a lot of snow accumulated on your panels, you will also need a lot of time to get rid of it.
Using something like a leaf blower will give you faster results. Depending on the layout of your house, getting a leaf blower onto the roof could be dangerous and difficult.
Rig a system made up of PVC pipes or plastic air hoses. Connect them to your leaf blower. This contraption will blow heated air beneath the panels, which will melt the snow. It can also blow the snow away.
Use The Nerf Ball Method
The idea here is to toss a soft ball onto the snow-covered panels. The ball will loosen the snow, making it easier for it to slide off. Depending on how many inches of snow are on the system, this method may be ineffective.
Use Calcium Chloride
Feed some calcium chloride into something shaped like a sock. You have to create more than one. Place these items on top of the snow covering your panels. The snow and ice should melt quickly.
Tray A Heat Tape
Attach heat tape to parts of your panels before a storm. Some people suggest putting them on the back of the panels. Depending on how hot heat tape gets, you could create a fire hazard. It might be a wise idea to use heat tape on the frames of the panels instead.
Fire Up The Garden Hose
This is one of the easiest ways to keep snow off your panels. There is no need to climb on your roof. All you need to do is stand in your yard and open the water.
But, I do not advise doing this in freezing temperatures as you may make the problem worse. The water may turn to ice.
Use A Tarp
Before a snowstorm hits, cover your panels with a large enough tarp. After the storm passes, pull the tarp away. The snow should come down with it.
Keeping Snow Off Solar Panels – No Need To Worry
Because solar panels need sunlight to work, you may think the hotter, the better. But that is not the case. Solar panels do their best work in cooler temperatures.
On a clear, sunny winter day, your panel will work near or at full capacity. But, you still do not need to worry too much about snow fall affecting your panels. If it does, there are a lot of options to get rid of the buildup.