How Does Snow Affect Solar Power?

Solar power — By on February 5, 2011 at 6:39 am

After the extreme snow and ice storms covering 30 states in the U.S., probably the last thing on your mind is solar energy.  But many people have solar panels on their homes or businesses which are responsible for some, if not all, the power used on a daily basis.  If you’ve installed solar panels on your rooftop, how does snow affect solar power?

solar panel snow How Does Snow Affect Solar Power?

Removing snow from solar panels

Solar power may, in fact, be more reliable than grid-based electricity in times like this.

The good news is that, even if the weather outside is frightful, it can still be delightfully warm and lit inside your solar-powered home.  In fact, with the installation of solar panels on your home, you may be the only place in your neighborhood that retains power in a winter storm.  No need for a generator, either!

Yet, when snow accumulates on solar panels, how do they continue working?  Experts advise that, in general, because panels are heated by the sun, radiant temperatures help melt ice and snow.  Additional tips from homeowners that have weathered winter storms with solar power include:

1.  Tilt the panels so that snow and ice do not accumulate, or will slough off more easily when the sun comes out.

2.  Toss a soft Nerf football at the panels to clear away a small patch – when the sun warms that area, the rest of the snow will melt away.

3.  Get out a garden hose and spray away the snow from the solar panels.

4.  Use heat tape around the edges of the panels.

Keep in mind that – snow or not – shorter winter days will usually reduce the amount of solar electricity generated.  When warmer, longer days return, that utility meter should start spinning backwards again!

If you do wish to remove snow and ice from your solar panels, be careful on ladders and rooftops.  In addition, use a soft rake or brush to avoid scratching the glass of your solar investment.   Many homeowners and experts advise simply waiting for the snow to melt and slough off, rather than risk harming yourself to save a few dollars on your electricity bill.

Snow on solar panels?  Yep – but it doesn’t have to mean you cannot rely on renewable energy!

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