How to Clean Snow off Solar Panels

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I’ve never much liked winter, the cold, the lack of sun. But this year I discovered a new reason to loathe it: snow on solar panels. It’s bad enough when you have to clean your roof off because you can’t see out of your windows, but cleaning solar panels is no fun at all and is still as necessary. 

Yet it is a task that many folks don’t know how to do. I know snow to be the worst. It’s slippery and wet, and it makes everything look like a frosty winter wonderland.

But snow on solar panels, disastrous! Knowing how to clean them is important because you need to make sure your panels are clean and will produce the maximum amount of power they can. Snow can do serious damage to your panels, decreasing efficiency by up to 30%!

Luckily for us (and our electric bills), there are some very easy ways to keep snow off solar panels and here they are. 

Why Do Solar Panels Need to Be Cleared of Snow?

Snow can be detrimental to solar panels for several reasons. It can insulate the cells in your panels and keep them from producing energy. It blocks the light that hits the solar panel and without it, your solar panels cannot produce electricity.

Even a thin layer of snow can reduce solar panel output by up to 30%. That’s enough to cause a serious problem, especially if you live in a northern area where snow can accumulate fast.

Letting the snow pile up on your panels not only produces less power for you and deteriorates the lifespan of the solar panel itself. It ruins the look of them too! For those of us who like our homes to look neat and tidy, solar panels covered with snow are an eyesore.

Now we know snow accumulation isn’t good for any kind of roof, but it can be particularly harmful to solar panels because of their fragile nature and lack of insulation. When snow falls on your roof, it’s cushioned by the shingles that protect the layers of plywood underneath. With solar panels, there are no shingles to act as insulation so ice can form between your panels and get trapped. The result is a panel that becomes brittle and crackable.

Easy Ways to Remove Snow Off Solar Panels

Now that you know how much snow can harm your panels, here are some easy ways to remove it.

Wait for it to melt or fall off

If you can, simply wait for the snow to melt. This might be difficult if your panels are in a spot that gets little sunlight or they’re not mounted at a favorable angle. But if they are, in that case, just wait until the height of it reduces and the snow slides off on its own accord.

Raise the temperature

You can also use a hairdryer to thaw the snow and ice off your solar panels. This is especially useful because you avoid damage that could be caused by physical contact with a snow shovel or a broom. This method is proven to be 97% efficient in melting away snow and ice buildup on solar panels without any damage done to them.

Hose them down

You can also use a hose to spray off the snow. This is much easier since you won’t need to worry about how to get within arm’s reach of them or how you’ll hold onto that hairdryer. The only drawback with this method is it’s not practical if your panels are at an angle where they’re safe from rain but not accessible for hosing down.

Sweep it

A broom works well to sweep off ice and snow buildup on solar panels. Just make sure you give it a quick wipe before sweeping so there’s no excess water build up and the panel doesn’t get dirtier than it should be. You can also choose to use a soft-bristled brush instead if you’re concerned about scratching the surface of your panels. Try not to use anything hard or abrasive like wire brushes because they might damage the glass covering of your solar panels over time.

Use a natural antifreeze

There are many organic products available in the market which offer an antifreeze solution. They work well at removing snow from solar panels, giving them a shiny new look while increasing their efficiency in generating electricity for your home. Just make sure to scrub the panels well after using any of these solutions so no residue from their chemical components lingers behind and cause harm later down the line.

How long does snow stay on solar panels?

Source: Drews Solar

Snow can stay on solar panels for a few days to a week. This of course varies depending on the intensity and length of time it falls in your area.

There’s nothing that can be done about dealing with snow buildup except wait until your panels get hit by sunshine and heat again or wait for strong warmer winds to blow it off right?

Wrong! There are simple ways to clean snow off solar panels, like using the aforementioned tips and tricks. Hope you were paying attention. 

How To Protect Solar Panels from Hail

Proper installation and site selection is the first step towards protecting solar panels against hail. It’s important to take precautions because even one strike can damage your solar panel system, causing hundreds or thousands of dollars in repairs.

Make a Wire Gauge to Protect the Solar Panels

Since hail is like a bullet for your solar panels, a good way method is to install wire gauze over them. A wire gauge can increase their resistance against hail and impacts from high wind. The most efficient wire gauge you can install on your panels is a diamond pattern since it’s hard for hailstones to pass through without hitting any of those wires.

By adding a layer of Methacrylate

Using this method you can protect the solar panels from debris, leaves, ice and snow. A good source for Methacrylate is Plaskolite. A curtain of Plaskolite is a great way to protect the panels from hail and snow. It’s a very tough substrate, withstanding hailstones up to 2″ in diameter falling from as high as 20′.

When using Plaskolite you’ll want to apply it all over your exterior surfaces, some people who have tried this method had mixed reviews. But if done right, Plaskolite can offer great protection for your solar panels.

Use Solar Panel Protective Covers

Installing a protective cover for your solar panels is another way to protect them from hail. Solar panel covers are designed to guard the surface of solar panels from ice, snow, leaves and debris while protecting them from hail as well. It’s an easy fix that you can have up in just a few minutes by using self-adhesive fasteners or by screwing down the top rail (if your panels come with one).

A lot of companies offer solar panel covers. Solar panel protective covers keep all components safe inside and prevent rusting during winter months when there’s lots of moisture present in the air. They also help expand the life span of your solar panel system if they’re made out of high-quality materials.

Follow the Weatherman’s Recommendations

The NOAA (National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration) provides information about how to protect your home from hail by following their weatherman’s recommendations.

They have a lot of helpful hints when it comes to what you should do before, during and after a storm hits so check them out here if you’re interested in protecting your solar panels.

Perhaps you live in a state where hail storms are common. In that situation, you should position the solar panels in a movable manner. Instead of putting them on the roof, consider making a stand to hold the solar panels. When a disaster warning is issued, you may move the solar panels and store them in a more secure location.

If you want to create a cover, go with durable materials like metal. You may also add strength to your cover by installing it on the side of the house with a steeper pitch.

Buy Solar Panels That Are Right for You

In order to make sure your solar panels are protected from hail storms, the best course of action is to buy those with a lower risk of getting damaged by hail. This means you should be cautious when choosing between polycrystalline and monocrystalline photovoltaics. While monocrystalline cells have a higher initial cost, they’re more durable against hailstones. 

They’re made out of blocks that consist of a single crystal so there’s no need for cutting, grinding or polishing which would yield defects in them. In fact, most traditional silicon modules used for commercial interconnection is the same as monocrystalline cells but just cut into small wafers instead of being cast into bigger slabs. 

On the other hand, polycrystalline cells are made out of silicon particles which form larger crystals when heated so they need cutting and grinding which makes them more susceptible to damage from hail storms since their makeup is different than monocrystalline modules.

For Hail to Slide, Position Panels at an Acute angle

One great way to protect solar panels from hail storms is to fit them at an acute angle. It’s a very common engineering feature and it can successfully protect the modules by deflecting ice and hailstones. This means that all debris will slide off instead exerting greater force upon impact and then piling up like a blanket of snow, which could cause permanent damage to your system.

The angle should be between 30 and 45 degrees and the straight side of the module should face towards the approaching storm. You may want to use a bubble level to make sure you’ve got it right because even a few degrees off could cost you dearly in terms of efficiency.

Make a Habit of Regular Inspections

Once you’ve done the necessary preparations, all that’s left is to regularly inspect your solar panels. This means checking them regularly so you can fix anything if it gets damaged or even clean them out once in a while so they work at optimal levels throughout the year.

When inspecting your system for damage, always start on the edges first and then go towards the center of each module to see whether there’s any visible impact. The last thing you want to do is touch anything immediately after hail hits your solar panels because you may end up causing further damage to them.

Inspecting your solar panels regularly can help reduce the chances of damage and keep you in good standing when it comes to energy efficiency.

Use Cleaning Robots to Save Time

Since you’re probably very busy when it comes to your daily routines, time management is essential when it comes to protecting your investment in clean energy. 

Fortunately, there are special robots designed for cleaning solar panels so you won’t have to do the dirty work yourself. They’ll come in contact with your photovoltaic system and provide a thorough cleaning without causing any damage at all.

Cleaning robots need only an hour of sunlight to recharge themselves so they can go on with their job throughout the day until everything’s spotless once again. Some cleaners may even detect which modules are dirtiest and spend more time on them while others will prioritize certain areas like south-facing surfaces where they receive most of the sun’s rays.

This is the simple way to protect your solar panels from hail storms without having to invest in expensive monitoring systems or take too much time on regular inspections. Cleaning robots are a great investment if you want them to work for you so you can keep up with all of your other responsibilities while still taking advantage of clean energy.

Frequently Asked Questions 

Do solar panels work in the cold?

Yes, solar panels work very well at lower temperatures so you don’t have to worry about them not performing their duties during winter or on cloudy days. Generally speaking, the colder it is the more power they produce since low temperatures mean shorter wavelengths of light coming from the sun which can also be used more efficiently through monocrystalline cells.

Do solar panels work in rain?

Yes, solar panels work very well during rainy days as long as the precipitation does not damage them. It won’t be enough to protect photovoltaic modules from hail storms since this type of weather involves much larger ice particles but rain should pose no problem as long as you keep your system clean and maintain a proper acute angle.

So, in conclusion to our article, we hope you enjoyed it and learned something new about keeping your solar panels clean during hail storms. Now that you know what to do when there’s a storm coming, you’ll be able to save time and money in the long term while simultaneously reducing the negative impact on our planet by using clean energy!

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