Written by Nani Pradeepan, P.Eng.
The top ten warmest years on record worldwide have all occurred since 1998, and the world has experienced an increase in heavy precipitation and extreme temperatures in recent years. This year winter being dramatic with record low temperatures, it’s hard to deny the rising trend of extreme weather patterns in our planet.
Due to record low temperatures, pile of snow is still on the roof covering everything including solar panels and leaving many solar power system owners wondering whether they should shovel off the snow from solar panels. So we want to provide some tips about snow and solar power system, so people can focus on more important things like staying safe and warm during extreme weather.
Don’t worry about shoveling snow off your solar panels; once the temperature is back to normal range snow will slide off the solar panel faster.
Passing through the snow some rays of sunlight always hit the dark surface of the solar panels. When this happen solar panel produces electricity and during this process some heat also generated on the surface of solar panel. This heat melts the snow closer to the solar panel surface and create hydro plane between the solar panel and snow. Hydro plane formed this way causes the snow to slide off the smooth solar panel glass surface faster. As we all know this winter temperature has been record low consequently heat generated on the solar panel surface is not enough to create a hydro plane, hence snow has been piling up on the panels. With the temperature returning closer to normal ranges, last few days we have already started seeing snow sliding off from solar panels on more inclined roof planes and soon it will propagate to solar panels on low inclined roof plane as well.
Trying to rake off snow from solar panels surface not only could harm the panels by scratching them but also could harm you, were you to slip and fall or be caught under snow and ice falling from your roof. Don’t worry about solar energy production either. Accumulated snow can cover panels and temporarily reduce the production; in general, solar power system doesn’t produce as much solar energy during the winter months due to shorter sunlight days.
After the snow clears from solar panels they may perform better due to lower temperature and additional reflected sun light solar panels receive from snow on other surfaces and on the ground. Over the years we have also observed that Mother Nature has her own balancing act and you will actually see an increase in production in coming months which will results in similar annual production as past years.
If you have any questions or comments, let us know in the comments below or feel free to give us a call!