Winter is coming…so what does that mean for your residential solar panels (and your wallet)? 

Here in New York City, the winter months bring more than just cold weather – they also bring snow. Luckily, snow on solar panels doesn’t have as big of an impact on energy production as most people think! Read on to learn about the effects snow has on solar panels, how to take care of your panels this winter, and how winter compares to the other seasons.

Do Solar Panels Work When They Are Covered In Snow?

Do solar panels work with snow on them? Short answer: if your solar array is ever fully covered by anything (including a thick layer of snow), solar production will be limited. 

When it comes to snow, if the layer is thick enough, it could cease energy generation for a short period of time. But even if this happens, the snow’s impact on your energy generation is pretty insignificant in the grand scheme of things. If you find that your solar panels are fully covered, you now have two choices: you can take the snow off yourself or let Mother Nature do the work!

Do I Need to Clear Snow From My Solar Panels?

Your solar panels are covered by a layer of snow, what should you do? Our recommended method of snow removal is to simply let the snow melt off naturally. Our solar systems are made to withstand extreme weather conditions, including heavy snowstorms. So you don’t have to worry about how long your solar panels will last or how much energy they’ll produce even when there’s heavy snow cover on top of them. 

Remember: the power you may miss out on during a snowstorm is minimal. It’s not worth risking a trip up to an icy rooftop. 

Solar cells are designed to attract and trap sun rays. With their dark and reflective surface, solar panels are about 36°F warmer than the outside temperature. With this generated heat, snow tends to melt at a faster pace than usual. Pair this with the angle of your solar panels and the snow should slide off relatively quickly without any help at all! Since the snow doesn’t stay as long, you should see very little impact to your overall electricity generation.

Another added benefit to letting the snow melt naturally is that your solar panels essentially get a free cleaning! Any dirt that is stuck on your panels will bond to the snow and wash away as the snow melts. Pretty cool, right?

Can The Same Amount of Solar Energy Be Generated in the Winter?

A solar myth that goes around every winter is: solar doesn’t work when it isn’t sunny.

Seasonal solar panel performance is a common question, and the short answer is that each season has its pros and cons for energy generation. Even though the days are shorter in the winter, solar panels tend to work more efficiently in the cold. This is due to the solar panels’ “peak temperatures.” What this means is that if a solar panel goes over its peak temp (about 77°F) their efficiency for producing electricity decreases. This is less likely to happen during the winter months. The lack of direct sunlight and rise in solar panel efficiency tend to balance each other out! 

New York residents also have the advantage of net metering! Net metering takes all the unused energy you create and sends it to the grid for others to use. When this happens, you’re rewarded with energy “credits” from your utility provider. Net metering is a great way to keep your electric bill balanced all year-round.

Want to learn more on how you can be rewarded with energy credits this year? Schedule a free consultation today.

Are Snow Guards Necessary for Solar Panels?

Solar panels have a glass surface which is essentially frictionless. This can cause snow to release and slide off your roof. Having heavy snowfall can be a hazard to your gutters, landscaping, and people just passing by. In areas that have moderate snowfall, solar panels tend to melt the snow off before it collects enough to become dangerous. 

To prevent this, many folks opt to use a snow guard on their roof. This is a device installed above the edge of a sloped roof to block snow from falling. One of the main considerations here is the slope of your roof: pitched roofs are the most common roofs for solar panels to be installed, and most likely to have this issue. 
But in NYC, there are also a lot of flat roofed homes with solar as well. For flat roofs or low sloped roofs, snow guards are generally not necessary.

Solar Panels Are A Great Renewable Energy Solution Year Round

Even in a winter wonderland, the advantages of solar panels are endless. Energy is generated through sunlight, not the heat the sun produces. So as long as there’s sunlight hitting your panels, your home will be generating solar power! 

Generating energy, improving your home, and reducing your carbon footprint are just a few of the excellent benefits of solar. Not only are solar panels a cost-effective solution anytime of the year but, solar panel maintenance in the winter weather is easier than anyone gives them credit for as well.

Don’t let a little snow get in the way of your savings! Schedule a free consultation today to start your journey towards energy independence.

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