How Does Snow Affect Solar Panels?

by | Aug 8, 2012 | Efficiency, Snow, Tips and advice

All solar panel owners are concerned with achieving the best efficiency from their system, and a big worry for many as the winter approaches, is how the snow will affect their solar panels.  As professional solar panel cleaners, this is a question we come across often and we have a few pointers for you.

Snow and winter conditions can affect solar panels in a number of ways.  Firstly, and perhaps most obviously, by limiting the light reaching the solar panel.  This can happen in three ways.

Short Days

With dark mornings, and early sunsets, the amount of daylight hours in winter are drastically reduced which severely impacts how much light your solar panels have to operate on.  It’s even more important that your panels are working as efficiently as possible for the few hours a day that they receive direct sunlight.

Cloudy Skies

With snow comes clouds, so even during those few daylight hours, your panels may not be receiving as much light as on a nice clear day.  Proper maintenance of your solar panels ensures that they take full advantage of whatever light is available to them.

Accumulated Snow

Finally, snow can accumulate directly on your solar panels and this will have the biggest impact on your electricity production.  Even as little as half an inch of snow resting on your solar panels can put them in permanent darkness, hardly producing any electricity at all.  Removing the snow as quickly as possible, while avoiding any damage to your panels, is the only way to maintain electricity production.

How else does snow affect solar panels?

Many solar arrays have all the panels wired into a single inverter and all panels act as a single unit. This was done because inverters were too large and costly to practically add one to every panel. One of the downfalls of this system is that all the panels default to the lowest common denominator output so, for example, if a single panel is affected by snow, the output from the whole array will be reduced, even from those panels that are still clear.

Solar micro-inverters help to ease this problem by allowing each panel to operate individually, but as long as you are still running an older solar array, it is important to keep every single panel clear for the efficient performance of the whole array.

With our solar panel cleaning equipment, we know how to safely remove snow from solar panels, even heavy snowfall can be removed with no damage to your delicate solar panels.  You will be producing electricity, even when your neighbours are not, maximising the financial gain from your solar panels.

Clean snow-free solar panels will often produce more electricity hour for hour on a clear, sunny winter day with snow on the ground than on a clear sunny day in summer! Like all electric items, they function better in low temperatures, and the reflected light from snow on the ground helps to maximise the amount of light entering the panel … if only there were more daylight hours! But clean solar panels in winter may even help them to generate electricity at night! How can solar panels produce electricity at night?  Read our recent article to find out.

So, if you are concerned about keeping your solar panels clean and snow-free, just contact Clean Solar Solutions Ltd for a free quote on our professional solar panel cleaning service.