Solar panels seem to get better and more popular every year. One thing that remains unchanged is that solar panels absolutely need to be exposed to sunlight to generate electricity. This means, they are also exposed to dust, pollen, rain, snow, and ice. Anything that crowds the surface of the panels will worsen their performance. Below we will dwell on how snow and ice effect the solar array and the benefits you would reap after the installation of snow guards for solar panels.
The Pros & Cons of Solar Panel Snow Guards
It is a good addition to have solar panel snow guards mounted at the point of solar panel installation. There are basically no downsides to having solar panel snow guards to protect the sun system.
A solar panel snow guard is an obstacle installed in between solar panels. It is aimed to avoid the dropping of snow and ice that occur after installation of solar panels. Solar snow guards prevent snow dropping all at once from the roof. In this case snow guards keep snow and ice on the roof to let it melt.
The numbers show that solar panels are covered with snow for only a several of weeks a year, but the difference in electricity generation on an annualized basis compared to cleaned batteries is around 3-5%. If the drop in output by 3-5% per year does not seem large enough, then you can leave the things as they are. However, if you really want to maximize the efficiency of your solar power plant, then here are some tips to help remove snow and give solar panels as much sunlight as possible.
There are many ways to remove snow manually. If you are lucky and the solar panels are located at a height low enough, or if you have good, safe access to the roof, then you can monitor the snow and simply brush away the snow. If it is not so easy to get to the batteries, then you can buy a brush with a retractable handle quite cheaply. If you prefer something even more ingenious, or if your batteries are too high to reach them safely, then use a soft object, tie it with rope, and carefully throw it over the batteries. Whichever method you choose, remember that although solar panels are durable, they are still destructible. To save you the trouble the engineering advances came up with the idea of snow guards which fence the panels from the snow or ice.
Having snow guards for metal roofs is the easiest way to prevent damage from large snow slides and ice crashing, or anything getting onto the solar array. If the panels are secured near the eaves, a snow guard goes over the top edge of the panels. This does not allow snow to accumulate underneath the panel bottom. The gap beneath the panel lets the air circulate underneath and thus keep the panels cool, while the snow guards make sure the snow does not cluster here and there. So, on top of having the snow guards installed, it is important to have the appropriately positioned brackets which hold the solar panels above the roof surface.
What happens when snow gets on solar panels?
Depending on the volume, snow will often influence the performance of the solar array and the power generation. Below we will explain the details you need to know to prevent the damage to the property or to the solar system.
Does snow cover affect solar panels?
While thin layer has hardly any impact, the heavy snows can be a challenge for solar panels. The production of energy is blocked by thick layer of precipitation settled on the surface of the panels. To large extent the panels are designed to stay as much as possible clear of any precipitation, foreign bodies and the like all the time. Otherwise, the energy production system often fails. The great news is that once the snow begins to slide, the power generation will gradually start over again. Moreover, even the smallest area of exposed dark silicone patch may contribute to absorption of heat and to spreading it over the whole panel as well as to making the snow melt in no time. The potential problem can be avoided by the use of snow guards on the roof. The installers usually clamp the snow guards in place to protect the rooftop, the property and the solar system. There could be other options for securing the snow guards though.
Do solar panels work if covered in snow?
Sun panels cannot absorb light if they are covered with a substantial layer of snow during winter. In this case the property will not get as much energy as the solar panel could have produced. The thin layer however will soon melt or slide away (as the panels are usually installed at an adequate angle).
Do solar panels work when it is snowing?
The insignificant snow flurry would barely have any affect on the performance, however heavy snow storms and avalanches can have a drastic impact on the solar panels system. If the snow starts to build up it causes many problems to the safety of the panels, the property, and the people around the building. While the roof surface is more or less fractured, the surface of the solar panels is much smoother, and the accumulated snow may avalanche from it at an impressive speed and damage everything it meets on its way.
What is the best way to place the solar panels?
Solar panels are almost always recommended to be installed at an angle, and usually this angle is enough for the snow to gradually fall off the solar batteries without assistance. Typically, a 35-degree angle will be enough to give the snow a push to slide. That is, gravity itself will remove all the snow from your solar panels. During snowfall, the batteries will not be left without snow for long, but it will constantly accumulate and slip throughout the day. Of course, the steeper the angle, the easier the snow will slide. However, when choosing an angle, one should not overlook the fact that a very steep angle will prevent snow from lingering, but the batteries will receive less sunlight, which will have a negative impact on the performance of the entire solar power plant.
How does the snow guard for solar panels work?
The tubular snow guard works by slicing the snow and ice into little chunks thus preventing the massive slide. Such snow guards can be mounted mechanically with the help of clamps. Each of them can withstand up to 3,500 pounds of snow.
We recommend to see to installation of solar panel snow guard if the area is known for harsh snowy winter. Usually, the solar panels installer does not offer them because it increases the upfront cost. However, investing in your safety and the protection of your building could spare you much trouble from of snow-related issues in future.
If you already have several solar panels on the rooftop, you can still add on snow guards above.