Solar panels should be kept free from obstructions to absorb the most sunlight, and if you live in an area with snowfall, the buildup can definitely stand in their way. Without a solar panel defrosting strategy, you’ll need to manually remove snow from your panels. And when a big storm hits, energy can be disrupted.
Thus, keeping your solar panels clear is key. Luckily, this is an easy task that you can complete before your morning coffee gets cold. And you should! Letting snow cover your solar panels for days on end can completely shut your system down.
In this article, I share the easy methods you can use to remove snow from your solar panels and how solar panel technology has advanced for automatic defrosting.
The Best Way to Melt Snow on Solar Panels
While it may sometimes be necessary to melt the snow on your solar panels, they’re designed so that they’ll mostly self-clean.
Solar panels are made from tempered glass, which is an excellent heat conductor. Paired with the angle they’re typically mounted at, they can melt and remove snow without any help from you.
The black silicon cells also draw in the tiniest rays of the sun, so even if it seems like none is reaching your panels, they’ll build up enough heat to clear the snow in no time.
When you look at houses with solar panels, it’s common to see panels clear of snow while the rest of the roof is still covered.
Reasons Why Clearing Snow from Solar Panels is Necessary
Heavy snow and frost can be bad for your solar panels. Here’s why you should clean them when you notice a build-up.
- Snow may insulate your panels and reduce their efficiency.
- Heavy snow build-up left on panels can affect their lifespan.
- Frost can damage your solar panels and significantly impact their energy production.
How To Clear Snow From Solar Panels
Cleaning snow from solar panels is an uncomplicated task, but whenever you do so, be careful. Snow-covered roofs will be slippery, and you can sustain a significant injury if you fall.
Wait It Out
If you’ve had a little snow, but the sun is on its way out, you can wait for your panels to heat up.
The snow will melt and fall off on its own if your panels are angled the right way. If not, you’ll have to remove the water accumulated on your solar panels.
Use a Hairdryer
Using an extension cord and hairdryer will take some time, but it’s an efficient way to clear snow from your solar panels.
If you’re expecting cold weather for a few days, you should melt and remove any snow on your panels to avoid a build-up.
Use a Hose
Hosing snow from your solar panels is a great way to clear the build-up while also cleaning any residue stuck on them.
The temperature difference between the water and snow will cause it to melt and slide off.
Use a Broom
You can clean snow-covered solar panels with a broom. Gently sweeping it usually works.
Use a soft-bristled brush to prevent scratching your panels and ensure that it’s clean before starting for a streak-free result.
If you want to give your solar panels a shiny coat while clearing the snow on them, you can use antifreeze.
Remember to wash any product residue from your panels to avoid potential future problems.
Use a Leaf Blower
If the snow on your panels is light and fluffy, you can use a standard leaf blower to remove it. Use a ladder to reach your panels or find a secure spot on your roof that isn’t slippery. Also, keep electrical cords away from where the water will puddle.
Once you’re in position, you can blow the snow off your panels as though it’s leaves.
Advances In Solar Panel Defroster Technology
With the current design, solar panels don’t really need advanced technology to help clear snow in areas where light snowfall is frequent. However, more solar panel systems are being installed on mountaintops and in regions with frosty winters, making innovations in solar panel defroster technology a necessity.
You can add a warm water line to your solar panels. This heated water will increase the temperature on your panel, causing the snow to melt and slide off with ease.
If you have an electrical heater installed within or underneath your solar panels, the energy harvested from the sun will power this heat source up. Your panels will warm, and the snow will melt.
Using heat tape is a do-it-yourself option, and you can buy it from your local hardware store. To upgrade your solar panels and make them more efficient at removing snow, simply tape the heat tape along the panel edges.
You don’t need any of these options if you live in an area with light snowfall, but where extreme storms and drawn-out winters are common, they certainly help!
Do Solar Panels Have Defrosters?
Most solar panels don’t have defrosters, and you’ll have to ask your supplier to custom build or install yours with one. If you live in an area with light snowfall, doing so isn’t necessary, but long winters and snowstorms might warrant a heating source next to your panels to help with defrosting.
Typically, solar panels are heated with a water or electrical line.
Do Solar Panels Have Heaters to Melt Snow?
Some solar panels have heaters to melt snow, but those readily available at hardware stores won’t. Solar panels are made from glass and solar cells that catch even the slightest bit of sunlight. When the panels warm up, snow melts.
To Sum it Up
Solar panels do an excellent job of removing snow build-up, but advanced technology is necessary for areas where heavy snowstorms are common.
You can ask your installer about advanced defroster technology or use heat tape for a DIY solution if removing snow from your panels is a task you’d rather avoid.