Believe it or not, winter is typically a good time for solar panels because they function better in colder weather, producing more energy. Being surrounded by snow can lead to solar panels intaking a record amount of energy because of the albedo effect.
However, solar panels can’t benefit from that effect if they are buried under heaps of snow. This guide includes everything you need to know to keep your solar panels protected from the elements, uncovered, and working properly all season long.
Keeping Snow Off Solar Panels: Everything You Need to Know
When Should You Try to Remove Snow from a Solar Panel
Honestly, the best way to deal with snow on solar panels is by doing nothing. That’s right: nothing. Typically solar panels are installed in a south-facing spot with a high amount of sunlight, which means that snow build-ups should melt within 2-3 days of falling.
Removal efforts typically have some risk involved for you and your solar panels, so sitting and waiting is the safest but slowest removal method.
Of course, snow can temporarily limit the energy your panels produce, forcing you to rely on your neighborhood’s power grid as a back-up, which may not be ideal for some people.
If you live in a frigid climate or endured an unusually heavy storm from which the snow will not melt any time soon, you may want to consider removing it using the solutions below.
Keeping Snow Off Solar Panels: Removal Methods
Use a Roof Rake
One of the most popular ways for homeowners to remove snow from solar panels is using a roof rake. This method, while time and work-intensive, is the most effective snow removal method.
Ensure that the roof rake you purchase has a soft rubber head that will not damage your panels. Also, be safe when using a roof rake to remove snow. Typically this task involves you climbing up on your roof in wintery conditions, which can be dangerous.
Blow Warm Air at Your Solar Panels
Another interesting method is applying warm air to your panels to speed up the snow’s melting process.
The trickiest part of this method is figuring out how you are going to do it. One unique way is rigging up a long line of plastic air hoses to your leaf blower. That way, you can simultaneously blow snow off the panels and speed up stubborn snow’s melting.
Spray Your Solar Panels with a Hose
Similar to the blowing warm air method, this snow removal method involves spraying your panels to dislodge snow and speed up its melting process. It’s much easier to set up than the warm air method but has its fair share of downsides.
For starters, you have to know before a snowstorm hits that you want to use this method. That way, you can store your hose in your garage so it doesn’t freeze up.
Of course, if temperatures are below freezing when you are trying to remove snow from your solar panels, absolutely do not use this method or you risk making the problem worse.
Throw a Nerf Ball
While this is the most surprising method on this list, it’s not the most effective one. The idea behind is that a squishy foam ball won’t cause any damage to your solar panels but could knock snow off them, freeing them up to absorb the sun’s rays.
The downsides of it are that it’s not professionally tested and will only work with smaller amounts of snow that you might as well just let melt on their own.
Tips on Keeping Solar Panels Snow-Free
Removing snow from solar panels can be a tricky process. These tips include ways to prevent snow build-up on your solar panels and safety guidance for snow removal from solar panels.
- Make sure that your solar panels are installed at an angle that’s at least 35-degrees. That way, it will be easier for the snow to melt and slide off of them.
- Consider installing a snow guard for your solar panels if you live in an area that gets high amounts of snowfall. This has less to do with protecting your panels and more to do with protecting you and your family. Instead of letting snow and ice fall off solar panels in big chunks, snow guards allow snow to fall off gradually, saving someone from an unexpected icy surprise.
- Safety first! Make sure to assess the risk of cleaning off your solar panels before you do it. It can be a dangerous task, especially if you are climbing up on your roof in wintery conditions. If it seems risky, consider consulting a professional.
Overall, when it comes to clearing snow off your solar panels, the best method is to do nothing and wait. If you feel compelled to clean the snow off of them, follow the tips and techniques outlined in this guide.
If you found this guide helpful, be sure to share it and comment below with any solar panel snow removal questions.