As regions across the Northeast and Mid-Atlantic are facing longer and unexpected periods of snow cover, owners of solar energy installations are wondering how the snow will affect their energy output.

Snowy conditions have both negative and positive implications for energy output. The negative side is that when snow builds up on solar panels, energy production sharply declines, even with only partial snow cover. The snow will not damage solar panels, as they are built to handle snow and even hail.

The positive side to snowy and cold climates is that solar panels themselves function better at lower temperatures. Also, snow’s reflective qualities can result in more sunlight reaching the solar panels, as long as the panels themselves are clear of snow.

Returning to the problem at hand; how to remove the snow from the solar panels. One solution is to use a snow roof rake (available at Sears and most hardware stores;). Using a roof rake is an effective solution to the problem, even if the snow can only be partially cleared. On a sunny day, the partially exposed surface will heat up and a current will form, not only producing some energy but more importantly heating up the rest of the panels, causing the snow to melt. After a few hours of sunlight, most of the snow should melt.

When using a snow roof rake, it is important to be aware of mini-avalanches of snow falling from the roof. Also, ensure that the roof rake does not have sharp edges that could potentially damage the panels. If the rake has sharp edges, a simple solution is to attach a soft, absorbing object to the end of the rake (such as a sponge, squeegee, or soft cloth). Lastly, be careful when using ladders in icy conditions.

If your system was damaged in any way during the storms, feel free to contact one of our installer partners to help get your system running at peak performance for the upcoming sunny spring days.

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