Last Days of Winter

Winter is back again. 

Unlike the past few seasons, we have received plenty of snow this year in many areas, and cold temperatures are keeping it around.  Just when it looks like things are going to be warming up again, another storm has arrived, “bombing out” on the northeast.

With March here, sunnier days are just around the corner.  Throughout the season, we received calls and emails from customers who were concerned that their system cannot produce electricity when the panels are covered in snow. What should be done?  With the latest storm here in March, there are sure to be plenty of solar system owners wondering how they should maximize their system’s production.

The Recommended Option

Apex Solar Power does not recommend, condone, or encourage any home or business owners to physically remove snow from their system.  It is tempting, we know, but there is a very real risk that damage can occur to your panels if you’re swinging a snow rake around in freezing cold weather.  Would you be comfortable cleaning your car off with a big metal and plastic rake on a pole, while standing 20 feet away? Us either.  Snow rakes are hard to control.  Though the tempered glass of solar panels is extremely durable and damage resistant, slamming a hard corner down onto glass is never a good idea.  Like a car window, they will last a very long time, so long as you don’t smash it with a hammer.

What to do?

Be patient. The photo above shows one of our systems that has started to shed its snow, without any mechanical help. The “photovoltaic effect” that causes solar panels to create electricity also generates heat. Eventually, the snow will slide off the panels, and as more of the panels are exposed to sunlight, the heat they generate will expedite the process. It can be hard to wait, but the precautions are well worth it in the long run.

Remember- Your system production estimates include forecasted snow cover, and even then, the amount of energy your “missing” in December is less than 45% of what your production will be in April or May. We plan for winter when we size your system as it’s something that happens every year.

The Apex Solar Power Production Guarantee

Remember, Apex Solar Power guarantees the kWh production of your system for 10 years. If your system falls short over the course of a year, we will make it right. That’s peace of mind for you, and a much more comfortable alternative to swinging a snow rake around in sub-zero temperatures.  Its best to be patient, because we’ve got you covered.

 

The Rebel’s Path

***The following is NOT recommended by Apex Solar Power, and any damage that results will not be covered by any manufacturer, installer, workmanship, or production warranty. Apex Solar Power does not recommend physically removing snow from your roof yourself, ever.***

Alright, with the disclaimer(s) out of the way we can talk about something that people do to clear snow off their systems, and the critical precautions they take while doing so.

Some homeowners decide that enough is enough and the snows gotta go. To do so, they use a snow rake with an important modification. They know that the hard, cold, sharp edges can cause damage, so they cover them up. We’ve seen some clever solutions:
• Cutting a slit in a pool noodle, and affixing it along the edge of the snow rake. This makes a soft foam barrier, keeping hard edges away from the panel’s surface.
• using a large rubber or foam squeegee instead of the traditional roof rake end.
• Using a big soft bristled broom on ground mounts.
The important thing to do is to cover the hard edges of anything that could be in contact with the panels, and try not to swing the device around with reckless abandon. Also, all the snow does not need to be fully removed. Often, leaving an inch or so of snow on the panels not only makes it an easier job, but sunlight easily penetrates this layer, which heats up the panels, and melts the rest.

***Remember, to ensure the longevity of your system and its panels, it is always best to be patient, and let the sun do the work.***