Should I remove snow from my solar panels?
We don’t recommend it. Some people choose to clear their arrays in order to maximize production after a storm or to reduce snow load. We caution anyone doing this to be very careful. Be sure not to scratch your panels by using a soft roof rake instead of a metal one, be careful not to bump the electrical components by staying away from conduit and the underside of the solar panels (the 25-year panel warranty doesn’t cover damage caused by the homeowner). Plus, getting up on a snowy roof would risk you getting hurt, which nobody wants. Take care of yourself too! In most cases, when the sun comes out after snowfall, the tempered glass black surface of the solar panels will heat up and clear itself much faster than the rest of your roof. We design our solar systems with heavy snowfall in mind. All our arrays (roof, ground, and canopy) are engineered to withstand the worst that Northeast winters can throw at them.
But aren’t my solar panels supposed to be making electricity?
Your production will decrease in the winter when your solar is covered with snow. (Don’t worry, this is more than taken care of by the long sunny summer days.) When SunCommon’s engineering team designed your system and determined how much electricity it would produce, we factored in the amount of sunlight your home receives over the course of a year and took snowfall into account. Not to worry if you have snow on solar panels, you’ll catch up when the sun again shines brightly.
Is it true the solar panels produces more efficient electricity on clear, snow less winter days? And why?
Yes. Solar panels do produce better at cooler temperatures! Heat is hard on electronics in the summer, so the winter months provide more efficient energy production. Even with that fun fact though, the shorter days, snowfall, and less direct sunlight are real factors in determining winter PV potential. We calculate year-round production so that you can count on your over-production during the long, summer days helping carry you through the winter.
HOW NOT TO REMOVE SNOW
Hot water should not be used to melt ice from your solar panels. The temperature difference can cause rapid expansion in the glass frames which could lead to severe cracking. If cracking occurs, melting snow will leak into the solar panel housing causing shorting and serious panel damage.
If your solar panels are on a second story roof, we highly advise you to wait for the snow to melt. Accessing your roof is especially dangerous throughout the winter, and without proper tools and safety equipment, you should not risk an accident.
If you have easy roof access from the ground, perhaps all that is needed is a snow rake or a large broom. However, if your roof is hard to access, especially in the harsh weather, you should not risk getting on top of your roof.
The soft and rubbery snow rake is attached to a long telescoping pole to quickly clear snow off the solar panels without damaging or scratching the surfaces. The system is ideal for single story homes and makes the whole clean up process go by quickly.
If you are able to do so, sweeping off those snowy panels with a broom means not requiring any special equipment and is the most cost-effective option. However, be aware that this obviously poses some serious and dangerous safety issues because of having to place a ladder on the snowy and wet ground and having to work on a wet roof.
WHEN TO REMOVE SNOW
Most of the time you will not need to remove snow from your system. If the sun is out and shining, it will more than likely melt the snow build up on your solar panels. The angle in which your solar panels are mounted will also help your system stay snow free. The smooth solar panel surface will easily slide any snow build up off. The deep blue and black colors also help the panels absorb the sunlight’s heat to melt the snow. You should remove snow when it has built up for consecutive days without melting. When snow sticks around for consecutive days it will start to build an ice layer just on top of your solar panels. When this starts to occur you may need to consider clearing your roof of snow