Do you live in snow-prone areas and have PV solar power system patched on your rooftop?
I can understand your frustration with waking up to a snow-covered solar panel.
You may wonder how snow on your solar panel will affect your output and what you can do about it.
This article will show you the best way to clean snow off your solar panels.
Forget about snow
Should you clean snow off your solar panels?
Now, how will this sound?
The best way to deal with snow off your solar panel is to do nothing about it. Yes! It may sound lame, but that is my SOUND advice. Just forget about the snow.
We usually install solar panels facing south. This best solar panel orientation ensures it receives maximum sunlight throughout the day. And, at an angle of 35 degrees, the snow-build-up melts off the panel.
It may take a day or two days after a heavy storm, but it indeed works.
Trying to remove the snow can be risky.
First, you could risk serious injuries. Rooftops are dangerous even without snow.
Snow and ice amplify this danger.
Yes, snow on your solar panels reduces the module’s efficiency, but not worth risking breaking a part of you if you fall off the roof.
But a long pole or brush will comb the snow off the panels.
I agree, but it is still risky. Imagine if 100 pounds or more of frozen snow or ice lands on your head.
Again, using tools to scrape the snow off may damage the panels. Scratching the module damages the solar panel, reducing the system’s efficiency.
What is the point? Get a powerful solar panel battery bank.
Snow is good
Finally, snow is good for your solar panels. As the snow melts off your solar panels, it provides a complimentary cleaning service.
Your production will go down, but your panels will be clean.
Clean modules are more efficient.
When You Should Attempt to Remove the Snow from the Solar
Now, if you still have to remove the snow off the solar panel for some reason, here are the best ways to do it despite the risks.
Sweep the snow
Sweeping the snow off the panel works best for ground or pole-mounted PV solar panels.
If you’re on the ground or a flat surface, cleaning or brushing off the panel’s snow is easier.
However, you can also do it on rooftop PV solar panels. While you can use a soft brush or squeegee-type device to sweep off the snow from the panels. Most homeowners use roof rakes.
Sweeping the snow off the panel using roof rakes, soft brush, or standard broom is more effective when panels are 35 degrees and greater. You only need to start the snow sliding and let gravity do the rest.
Since it involves climbing up your roof in wintery conditions, there is the risk of falling. Improper use of the roof rake can damage your panel.
So ensure the rake you use has a soft rubber head or a squeegee to avoid scratching the panel.
A standard broom can be used but may cause damage to your solar panels. So be very careful.
Also, I should mention that while this method works, it is tedious and time-consuming.
I recommend using a squeegee with a long and extendable handle to sweep off the snow while standing safely on the ground to avoid injuries.
Hose the snow off the panel.
Splaying your solar panels with a hose is another way to remove snow from the solar panels.
A fun and easy thing to do. The water dislodges the snow and speeds up the melting process.
A garden hose works fine. This method works, but it has its share of challenges.
First, you need to prepare and store a hose before the snowstorm. Store it in a well-shielded place so that it does not freeze up.
Secondly, the method isn’t suitable when temperatures are below freezing. Splaying the snow during such a time may cause it to turn into ice. More problems.
If you use too hot water, your panels may crack as they expand rapidly.
Note: If you use water to get the snow off, be cautious, and do so only when the temperature is high enough to prevent ice from forming.
Heat the Snow
By heating the snow, I don’t mean blasting your modules with fire. It can be fun for fire lovers, but be a bit creative.
I have seen some creative ideas, such as connecting a leaf blower to a long practice hose or PVC pipes to either blow snow off the panels or produce warm air that melts the snow.
The sun would have eventually done this in 1 or 2 days, but heating speeds up the process.
Maybe the battery bank for your solar power system is dead, and you need to catch your favorite show.
You can also install heating devices to melt the panels’ snow. These devices consume the power you produce, while others run off the power grid if you have a grid-tied solar power system.
For types of solar power systems, read this article.
These heating devices work much like driveway heating systems.
But they are good when your solar power can produce power despite the snow or when the temperatures are not sub-zero.
Note: Solar panel heating systems are used on systems installed in heavy snowfall and long winters. These heating systems use either a heated water line or an electric line to warm up the solar panel surfaces just enough to melt snow.
These devices may not be enough if you expect frigid climates accompanied by more snow and ice.
Such heaters may even date days to clear the panels in such conditions.
Note that the solar panel heaters’ role is to melt the snow when it falls on the panel, not letting it accumulate.
This may not always be the case, so consider using other methods mentioned in this article.
Use Nerf Balls
Maybe this is the most fun and exciting way to clean snow off solar panels.
Throwing things at your solar panel.
The wisdom behind this method is that a squishy foam ball will not hurt your solar panels but could knock snow off them. It is a game of chances. But fun.
Compared to other methods, knocking snow off your solar panel using Nerf balls is the most inefficient method, but worth trying if you are out of options.
It will only work if the snow on the panel is small. But I am confident that my son will love to go through anything at the panels.
Be careful when trying to knock off snow from your solar panel.
Only use soft items that will not damage the module.
Will the weight of snow hurt my Solar Panels?
A Solar panel can handle about two to four feet of snow, depending on the snow density, without breaking.
Except when the snow is too much, the snow’s weight cannot damage the panels.
Solar panels are built to withstand such abuse.
Most solar panels have a pressure rating of 5000 or more Pascals (Pa).
This pressure rating indicates the amount of static snow load the solar panel can withstand.
Can you walk on solar panels? Read this article to find out more.
Does snow stay on solar panels?
Yes, snow can stay on solar panels after a heavy snowfall.
However, considering that panels are mounted at an angle, the snow may easily slide off the panel.
Also, solar panels have a slick glass surface, making it hard for snow to stick on them for long.
Heat is another factor that discourages snow from sticking on your panel.
Have you ever noticed the dark silicone cells of your solar panels? The dark color helps the panel to absorb heat from sunlight.
Once a small portion of your panel is exposed to sunlight, the heat spreads throughout the panel melting the snow.
It is possible to see your solar panels snow-free, but the rest of your roof is still covered in snow.
Do solar panels work better in the cold?
Even on cold winter days, your solar panels will still turn sunlight into electricity. Solar panel depends on light from the sun and not the heat to generate electricity.
In fact, your solar panel is more efficient during cold climates than in hot climates.
Research has shown that the efficiency of your solar panel modules starts to diminish at around 77ºF.
Tips on Keeping Solar Panels Snow-Free
Snow removal from solar panels can be a tricky process.
The snow removal guide from solar panels provides safety advice and methods to ensure the snow piles up on the solar panels.
- Try putting a snow guard on your solar panels if you live in a region with a high volume of snowfall. It’s less about defending your panels and more about protecting you and your mates. Instead of allowing snow and ice to fall off solar panels in huge chunks, snow guards cause the snow to fall off steadily, protecting anyone from a sudden frozen surprise.
- Ensure the solar panels are mounted at a minimum 35-degree angle. That way, it will be easier for the snow to melt and fall.
- First, safety! Before using solar panels, ensure the risk of washing up is calculated. It can be a dangerous job, particularly in winter weather when you climb on your roof. Consult a specialist if it sounds scary.
How to clean snow off your solar panels: Final Thought
Snow on your solar panel could be significantly annoying if it reduces the production of your panels. This is a temporary problem, and we advise you to do nothing about it.
Any other expert in the industry will suggest you the same.
For your safety and the safety of your solar panels.
Causing damages to your solar panel voids the warranty. You do not want this.
However, suppose you must clear the snow off your solar panel.
We recommend sweeping it off using a soft brush, squeegee, or roof rake.
If your use a brush or standard broom, be cautious not to scratch the cells. Use warm air or water to speed up the melting process but ensure the snow does not turn into ice.
You may also use Nerf balls to knock the snow off the panels.