During the winter months in parts of California, Colorado and the Northeast, snow buildup on your roof and your home solar panels is common. While snow will temporarily inhibit your home’s solar energy production, we do not recommend climbing ladders or getting on the roof to manually remove the snow from your panels. Getting up on the roof is always a little dicey, but when ice and snow are involved, the potential for an accident increases.
Fortunately, snow on your solar panels won’t stay for long. In most cases, roof-mounted solar panels are set at an angle and have a surface made of smooth glass, so snow – assisted by gravity – slides off under its own weight. With this in mind, avoid standing in areas where snow slides could occur overhead.
Snow on solar panels is also encouraged to melt by the panels’ dark-colored metal framing that warms up in the sunlight.
It’s also important to remember that solar panels are engineered and warranted to support a snow load of 50lb/sq. foot or more depending on the mounting system. But, just like on a roof without a PV system, excessive heavy snow (a foot or more of wet snow/slush) has the potential to cause damage and action should be taken to alleviate the load from the solar power system.
When it comes to snow on your roof-mounted solar panels, we recommend you:
- Only remove snow when significant accumulation is present. Removal can be time-consuming and small amounts of snow accumulation do not generally present any significant snow slide risk.
- Only use a modified snow rake that has a rubber scraper. Even hard plastic can scrape the anodization on the module frames. There are good commercial snow rake solutions designed for solar panels, awnings, aircraft, cars, and roofs.
- Only scrape off snow that easily comes with the rake while raking. Once the main load of snow is gone, the next sunny day should melt the rest!