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Should I clean snow off my solar panels?

Best practice is to wait for snow to melt in warmer weather.

It’s tempting to take action when your solar array is covered by snow and ice. If you consider an insurance agent’s advice to reduce risk of injury or property damage, an exercise in patience is preferable.  Before reaching for gloves, parka and ladder, think about this …

What’s the risk?  Most rooftop arrays are not easily accessible from the ground. A man died recently after falling from a ladder while working on outdoor lights. After finishing a job, missing the bottom rung of the ladder and injuring his neck, a past roofer is paralyzed. Medical bills can be expensive.

What property damage?  The manufacturer warranty can be voided by owner negligence. Although solar modules are protected from hail by tempered glass, the vulnerable part of the system is the interface between materials around the edge with sealant to prevent water intrusion that could corrode the electrical components. The sealant is susceptible to being cracked when frozen, if during snow removal it is struck by a scraper or brush,

What’s the value?  Most solar energy is produced in the summer. The cost for a week of solar snow and ice is maybe $10 to $20, depending on array size and electric rates.

Only six percent of annual energy is produced in January when days are short with few hours of blue skies; that’s about 400 kwh, averaging 13 kwh daily, for a five kilowatt array.  Loss of solar energy, thereby increasing consumption of grid energy valued at about $0.12 per kwh, would be $1.50 per day.

This is why net metering is important for customers of Duke, IPL, I&M, NIPSCO and Vectren.  Solar energy produced in summer is credited on your bill and carried forward to offset lower production in the winter.

Better to stay inside, enjoy a cup of coffee or tea while not spending your cash at Starbucks.


Category: Solar Basics

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