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How to Keep Your Solar Panels Snow-Free for Maximum Efficiency?

snow removal from solar panel

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One of the popular myths that you may encounter is that solar panels don’t work during winter or in cold climates. It may be true to a certain extent, but the fact is solar panels produce more energy with the same amount of sunlight during cold weather.

Solar panels are a great source of sustainable energy. Still, the accumulation of snow during winter can be a significant drawback, as it may reduce the efficiency of solar panels by limiting the contact of direct sunlight. 

If you are wondering how to keep snow off your solar panels, don’t worry, in this blog, we are going to explore the various ways by which you can remove the snow buildup from your solar panels. Let’s get started. 

Effects of snow and ice on solar panels

We all have this question running through our minds, “Will the weight of heavy snow hurt the panels?” Well, all solar panels are designed to withstand a variety of weather conditions, and most panels have a pressure rate, which measures the amount of pressure a solar panel can possibly withstand. 

Most panels are manufactured with a pressure rate that could withstand the load of 5,000 or more Pascals(Pa), which is two to four feet of snow, depending on its density. However, the accumulation of snow could block the contact of sunlight, which may reduce or stop energy production. Even a light dusting of snow can decrease energy production by 30% or more. As snow depth increases, so does energy loss.

At around 2-3 inches of snow, solar panel output can drop by up to 70-80%. Anything over 3 inches can essentially cut power generation to zero. The snow’s density also affects efficiency loss.

Light, fluffy snow is less impactful than heavier, wetter snow that compact and adheres to the panels. Large snow drifts are especially problematic, completely burying panels under piles of snow. Until the snow is cleared, frozen-over panels are rendered entirely nonfunctional. This can mean days or weeks of greatly reduced solar energy capture during peak winter weather.

How to keep snow off your solar panels?

There are several methods for keeping snow off solar panels. They can be broadly categorized into preventative measures and removal techniques.

1. Tilt the solar panels at a steeper angle

The ideal angle is between 45 and 60 degrees, which allows snow to slide off naturally. This helps to minimize snow accumulation on the panels, thereby improving their efficiency in generating solar power. However, it is important to find the optimal angle to avoid shading other panels on your roof. Shading can significantly reduce the power output of solar panels. You may need to consult with a solar installer to determine the best angle for your roof and location.

2. Apply hydrophobic or anti-stick sprays

These sprays create a slippery surface that repels snow accumulation. This can be a good option for preventing snow buildup on your panels, especially in areas with light snowfall. Be sure to use coatings designed specifically for solar panels. These coatings are typically applied to the surface of the panels and can last for several years.

Focus on spraying the edges and frames where snow accumulates first. Snow tends to accumulate on the edges and frames of solar panels first, as these areas are typically cooler than the center of the panels. By spraying these areas first, you can help to prevent snow from accumulating on the entire surface of the panels. You may need to reapply the spray throughout the winter, as the coating can degrade over time and with exposure to the elements.

3. Brush off light snow regularly

Use a soft brush or roof rake to remove light snow before it compacts and becomes heavier. Brushing off light snow is a quick and easy way to prevent it from accumulating on your panels. It is important to use a soft brush that will not scratch the surface of the panels. A roof rake can also be used to remove snow from the panels, but be careful not to apply too much pressure, as this could damage the panels.

4. Remove heavy snow carefully

If you must remove heavy snow from your solar panels, use a plastic scraper or squeegee. It is important to avoid using metal tools or applying too much pressure, as this could damage the panels.  If the snow is too heavy to remove safely with a plastic scraper or squeegee, it is best to leave it alone and let it melt naturally.

5. Install solar panel heaters (for very heavy snowfalls)

Solar panel heaters are embedded heating elements that melt snow accumulation. This is a good option for areas with very heavy snowfalls. However, they can be expensive to install and operate.

What should you not do? The dont’s 

The real question now is how you can remove the snow off the solar panels. The best thing to do to get the snow off your panel is to do nothing. Yes, you heard it right—zip, zero. 

There are several reasons why you shouldn’t do anything because it works, believe it or not. Just leave it to the winter sun. It does a great job of melting the snow off the panels. It may take a day or two, but it’s worth your patience. 

Secondly, and perhaps the more important reason, is that it could be risky and can cause some serious injuries. Freezing temperatures can create slippery conditions, making for a hazardous situation. You might be thinking of buying a long pole squeegee to combe the snow off the panel, but still, it holds some risk factors. Imagine hard, frozen snow falling on you! The snow that you are trying to remove may weigh around 100 pounds or even more; it may be dangerous. 

Finally, consider that improper cleaning may damage your panel. If you have decided to remove the snow, take great care to avoid scratching the panels. If you find ice buildup on the glass, do not try to remove it by scraping it. 

What should you do about the snow on your panels? The do’s

It is not recommended to remove snow on your own as it may void your panel warranty, or worse, it could harm you. Instead, hire a professional. A professional snow removal service may have the experience and necessary equipment to remove the snow without causing any potential damage to the panels. Moreover, professionals can also check for any damage or issues that may arise from freezing on the panels over long periods, 

Wrapping up

Solar panels are a great investment, but it’s important to take care of them, especially in the winter. Snow and ice can block sunlight and reduce the efficiency of your solar panels. However, it’s important to be careful when removing snow from solar panels, as improper cleaning can damage them.

If you have a lot of snow on your solar panels, it’s best to hire a professional snow removal company. They have the experience and equipment to remove snow safely and efficiently.

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