Grid-tie Solar, Solar Panels, Weather

Snow and Solar Panels. They are not mutually exclusive.

Solar Panels covered in SnowIt’s true that if your solar panels are completely covered in snow, they won’t generate power. If your system is grid-tied, it will draw power from the utility company instead. Solar panels don’t stay covered in snow for long, however. They are usually set up an angle to best capture the sun’s rays. When the sun comes out and warms the solar panels, the snow slides right off.

You can always help it along. Just take a broom and wipe off the bottom layer of snow, the rest of the snow will slide off. That’s what Ellen Coleman, Wholesale Solar’s CFO, used to do when she lived off the grid. She needed the extra two hours of morning sun to power her home. Just be careful to stand clear of the falling snow.

The Albedo Effect
Sometimes snow actually helps solar cells,” says Michigan Tech’s Joshua Pearce. He’s referring to the albedo effect, when sunlight reflects off snow. It can make a panel generate more electricity in the same way that it gives skiers sunburn on sunny winter days.