Of course, as you know, some of us love snow. Most of us probably hate it. Well, if you’re a resident of the Mid-Atlantic US states, you know that the phenomenon is simply inescapable during the dreaded winter months!
Have you installed a solar system in your home? Then something could silently be worrying you: What will happen during winter when snow falls on your solar panels? And of course, what can do you to forestall future troubles with snow?
These questions must be intriguing since you know that you’ll not get the much-needed energy when the panels are completely covered. At such times (during winter), should you remove the snow so that the solar system can continue producing power? Such uncertainties can leave you confused.
Here are the tips on how to handle the situation effectively.
Tips to Remove Snow from Your Solar Panels
There’s always a real threat of snow covering your solar panels. Yes, snow can shut down the solar system for endless days, even when the sky is blue, and the sun is up. Happily, there are a few excellent methods of caring for snow-covered solar panels.
Consider these few:
Let it Melt
Just wait for the snow to melt. This is an excellent idea for those with rooftop solar systems that are 35 degrees and above. Why? Because snow is likely to melt quickly. However, make sure the roof is steep enough.
Build a System on Racks
Such a system should put the panels at an angle of 35-degrees. Make the tilt angle greater- this will make the snow slide off the panels quickly. Be cautious; if you make the angle too shallow, it will rarely slide off.
Also, note that if you use a rooftop on a tilted rack during winter, it’ll shed the snow faster. In fact, it will be more effective during the non-snow months. Consider using a hydraulic rack system that you can tilt to shed snow and move down again.
Use a Heat Tape
Affix a heat tape to several parts of the solar panels. This might be effective, but beware- it could come with a fire hazard.
Microinverters typically allow individual panels to give the highest possible energy levels. This is the case, regardless of the surrounding panels’ situation. This method is recognized as a partial solution to the snow- covering –solar panel problem.
Some have reported using this system to clear snow from a large percentage of the solar panel. Others say the method is less effective since other panels remain covered with snow (fully or partially).
Employ a Pulley-Operated Tarp System
Some of those who have grappled with this problem suggest that you should build a pulleys system, attaching them with a large tarp. Next, pull the tap over the panels and then pull the tarp down (with the snow on top). Do this after the storm, and you’ll usually get your panels free of snow. However, be prepared for a few logistical challenges while setting up the system.
Ice Melt Sock
This method may have some advantages and disadvantages. For instance, why might it be ineffective? Well, it could cause corrosive damage to the roofing and panel system. Why? You’re expected to put a calcium chloride compound in a sock-like device and put it at the topmost part of the system. The calcium will melt quickly through ice and snow, creating a channel for a water flow-down. Some say these conditions are ideal for making the snow slide off, melting swiftly.
Self-Cleaning Solar panels
Solar cleaning technology can create a sand and dust-repellent electrostatic field, carrying it outside the surface. It can also determine whether the surface is snow-covered. Furthermore, it will start a heating element to melt down the snow. Well, doesn’t this sound intriguing and exciting?
The Nerf Ball Approach
Essentially, this involves throwing a spongy ball on the system. It will usually speed up the snow-melting process. This system might not work for all roofing systems. Regardless, it’s still worth giving a try; who knows? It might be far more effective than anyone imagines.
Snow Melt for PV Panels
This s another viable solution.
You can learn about this by doing a simple search on Google. Essentially, this method involves using some soft materials (equipped with heat nodes). These are attached to the solar panel back. Doing this may be costly. It’s also not clear where the needed equipment can be bought. Others worry about the safety of using this kind of equipment.
Note: Some users say that hosing the panels off with water is an excellent idea. You can try it out to see how it works. Those who use it when the snow covers the panels at about two inches report that it’s a promising method. Regardless, it’s advisable to determine how the method works when the snow covers the panels a little deeper. For best results, try experimenting with the idea soon after a snowstorm.
Spray off the Snow with a Garden Hose
Some say this is the simplest method to get the snow off your solar panels. Make sure the hose is conveniently kept in the garage for this purpose. It’s also a safe place since the hose is protected from freezing up. Avoid spraying your panels with water in freezing temperatures. You realize-of course-that this method may not work for everyone.
Sweep Your Solar Panels
Yes, sweep the panels. Do so until they’re free of snow. But, take care- this can be dangerous, tricky, and perhaps impossible. Nevertheless, for most rooftop systems, it’s still worth trying.
There are, clearly, various ways of dealing with the problem of snow covering solar panels. One option is to hire a professional to come and safely remove the snow. This can be the wisest thing to do after extreme snowstorms. Regardless, hiring a professional means spending considerable cash. In fact, it might be more costly than installing the solar system itself!
If you use a ground-mounted system and your panels are installed lower (near the ground), try keeping the ground in front of the panels bare. In this way, the snow won’t pile down off the panels as it falls off.
All in all, there’s an excellent option that will cost you nothing: Just do nothing about the problem. Obviously, this works best if the problem is less disruptive and generally manageable.
Yes, you can take the easy way out; let the sun melt the snow for you- it cost nothing. Moreover, you’ll keep safe and have your panels working properly. Before long, your solar panels will start producing electricity!
Now, it’s time to take your pick.
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