How Does Snow Affect the Efficiency of My Solar Panels?

Snow and Solar Panel Efficiency

There are several questions that often come up in regards to solar production this time of year.  RETHINK ELECTRIC solar panel systems are designed with this in mind.  Though we have less sunshine in the North and an occasional snow dump, there are several factors that ensure your panels will still keep you feeling warm at the thought of going green.

How Does Snow Impact the Efficiency of My Solar Panels?

Before we discuss the snow, let’s talk about the cold.  Something that the Chicagoland area is notorious for.  Surprisingly, the cold actually increases the efficiency of your panels and electronics in general.  The real enemy of electron flow is heat.  “Luckily” that’s not a problem right now.

Does Snow on Solar Panels Stop Electric Production?

With a dusting of snow on your array, light still penetrates the snow and you still have energy production. In addition, the sunlight that gets to the dark surfaced panels will heat them up. This in turns helps melt the snow, getting you back into a more productive state. These light dustings that melt also help keep your panels clean by giving them a bit of a wash.

Once the snow accumulates deeper than a few inches its a different story. 

That much snow blocks the sun, halting production. However, the surface of the modules is a smooth glass which makes it hard for anything to stick to them, and the panels are at a steeper angle in the North to capture the lower solar angle and helping to shed snow.

That being said, there are occasions when it will accumulate.  Do not let this thought consume you. 

When Rethink Electric designs systems, we take into account these Winter months and their unpredictable nature. Our calculations for annual solar electricity production are still on target even with the snowstorms.  These “slow” days are made up for by the high production days of the Summer months.  Thank goodness for Net Metering!

Should I Remove the Snow to Help my PV System’s Potential?

You absolutely should NOT climb on a roof in Winter. 

If you are really concerned about getting every last drop of solar production, you can hire a professional for solar panel snow removal.  Alternatively, just wait and let Mother Nature take care of it for you. 

Remember, the characteristics of the solar modules help them reduce, shed, and melt any snow load.  Bonus: When you have a snow-covered landscape and roof, but the panels are clear, your system can produce over 100% of their potential from the reflectivity of the surrounding snow.

Remember, the leader in solar production (Germany) sits at a much higher longitude than the Chicago area, and gets a healthy dose of snow.

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