One of the biggest concerns that homeowners have in the winter is how snow will impact solar energy. Snow is actually not the adversary of solar productivity and does not require you to perform any extra maintenance on your solar electricity system.
Panels installed on a flat-roof are usually installed at an angle and tilt in such a way that they face the sun. The tilt of the panel makes it difficult for snow to accumulate while enabling accumulated snow to slide off easily.
Like anything else, something that faces the sun will heat up, which is exactly what solar panels do. The heat of the panel melts any snow that may have accumulated, clearing the way for the panels to function as they normally would. Even if panels are installed flat on a roof, they will still heat up and melt the snow eventually.
Solar panels actually work better when it is colder out, so there may even be an increase in productivity on a sunny winter day!
Garry, one of the homeowners in our third SunBlock group was able to experience the first snow of 2016 with solar on his rooftop, and documented his system’s solar energy production in the days around the blizzard.
There are 17 SunPower 327 Watt solar panels with Solar Edge optimizers on Garry’s roof, a total capacity of 5,559 Watts. The photo below shows Garry’s system in the autumn. The panels are angled southward, and you can even see the sunlight really hitting the panels on the left side of the photo.
On January 23rd at 1:13PM after snow had been falling for many hours and accumulating on the ground, Garry’s solar panels on the roof were still producing energy-- 1.24 kWh, 7% of his average daily electric usage. That was pretty amazing considering that there was snow on the panels and there was no sun in sight!
The following day was bright and sunny with tons of 2 feet high piles of snow all around Brooklyn. By 3:57PM that day when the sun was already low in the sky, Garry’s system actually exceeded his average daily usage, producing over 19 kWh, over 100% of his daily average electric usage. That means that he would get a credit on his Con Ed bill for the extra energy his solar electricity system produced.
Garry's system actually produced more on the day following the blizzard than the days earlier in the week!
So instead of worrying about snow, play in it!