What You Need to Know About Snow and Solar Panels

Posted by Wattson on Dec 15, 2015

solar panels and snow

Solar panels don’t require much maintenance to function properly. In fact, if you live in a perennially warm and sunny climate, like Los Angeles, solar panel maintenance may have never even occurred to you. But how does solar panel maintenance work for us New Englanders who get Nor’easters nearly every winter? Does our cold and snowy winter weather make the idea of having solar panels in New England an impractical one? Actually, rain, wind, snow, or shine, solar panels work exceptionally well in New England and require virtually no maintenance.

The scientific breakdown

Solar panels work with light, not heat. Don’t let a freezing seasonal climate deter you from adding solar panels to your home or business. Like most electronics, solar panels actually perform better in colder conditions. High-quality anti-reflective glass traps incoming light, which cannot escape regardless of the weather. Now you’re probably thinking, “Well, what if my panels are covered with 5 inches of snow? Can light still bypass?” Great questions.

Can solar panels tolerate winter weather?

Panels are designed to withstand extreme winter conditions, and that includes very cold temperatures, shorter days of the year when there is less light, and massive snow storms. During the winter, your solar panels work exactly the same as they do in the summer. Of course, the hours of daylight in the winter are shorter, so your panels will capture less energy during those months than they would during other seasons.

How to get the most from your solar panels in winter

To optimize your solar panels’ winter performance, you may need to perform a tiny bit of maintenance. When there is a thick blanket of fresh fallen snow covering your panels, you can easily remove the snow without damaging your panels. To remove snow from your panels, buy a roof rake. This tool will be your companion for the snowy weeks to come. To stay ahead of the accumulation, gently glide the roof rake over your panels, removing the snow.

Note: You may want to remove the snow from your panels because even though some light will penetrate the snow, your panels will produce only a fraction of the energy they could in optimal weather conditions.

‘Tis the season

Remember that your safety is the most important thing. Don’t put yourself in a potentially dangerous situation by using ladders or climbing roof to get snow off your panels. It’s absolutely not worth the extra 10 or 20 kwh of energy that you could hypothetically save. Do what you can to clean them safely and let nature do the rest. Remember that your panels were made to withstand severe weather and will continue to store energy no matter the weather conditions.

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