The average solar panel supports hundreds of points of snow load. This means that, while it does stress the support structure, the weight of the solar panel snow isn’t usually a problem. The real issue is that solar panels hibernate and don’t produce any power when they are covered in snow. It’s important to clear the panels quickly and safely before ice forms and prevents snow from sliding off the panels.
The panels have delicate surfaces that would be damaged by harsh brushes, hard roof rakes, or metal-edged shovels. The snow removal tools that work for pavement, shingles, and car windows will damage panels and put a stop to generating power.
Businesses, retailers, and consumers with solar arrays remove snow from solar panels using solutions like these:
Wait It Out
The most common method for removing snow is generally to just wait until it melts, blows away, or slides off on its own. Roof mounted panels will create snow banks at the bottom of each panel that quickly grow and block new snow from sliding off the panels. This can put the panels into hibernation for long periods of time and lose their owners significant amounts of money.
Significant snowfall can also create a risk of an avalanche that lands on objects below. Be prepared on the ground and move lawn furniture or block walkways that could be damaged by a sudden slide—or use another method to remove snow from solar panels.
Foam-Headed Snow Broom
If the panels are covered with snow, they are not producing energy. Traditional roof rakes, shovels, and brushes aren’t safe. You could damage the panel or void your warranty with improper care. The best solution is a soft, foam-headed snow broom, which won’t damage the delicate surface of the panels as it removes the snow.
Our favorite is the SnoBrum line of snow removers (SnoPro, ProEdge or SnoBrum) with their gentle, non-abrasive heads made out of durable cross-link polyethylene foam. SnoBrum has earned its place as a preferred option for businesses and consumers over more than 25 years. Each of the foam heads features a standard Acme thread so any extension handle will fit the product. You can purchase the right length handle for your situation at any home center.
Solar panels are in safe hands with a tool that received the highest possible ratings for non-abrasiveness in independent laboratory testing and approval for use on “Class A finishes.”
Many folks rely on foam snow brooms like the SnoBrum for clearing vehicles, but it’s got a robust market for use on clearing delicate surfaces like solar panels, awnings, and spa covers, too. There’s a reason it’s stocked year-in and year-out in stores across the USA.
Install All-Weather Panels
This fix is part of a pre-installation plan. There are specially made solar panels that can use a small amount of gathered energy to heat the panel’s surface and melt solar panel snow before it builds up. In a snowy climate, this is a great investment.
Re-Orient Your Array
If a storm is coming and you have some ability to adjust the solar panels (angle, orientation), or if you’re thinking ahead during the initial installation, it’s possible to mitigate some risk of snow accumulation. A southward-facing array will get more sun during the winter months, which helps accelerate melt-off as the panels soak up more warmth. A steeper angle would also make it harder for the snow to build up and encourage it to slide off before there’s too much.
Hire a Professional
It would take a bit of an investment, but should the situation grow serious, there are snow removal services that will know how to remove solar panel snow safely. Trust professionals to have the right tools to handle it without damaging the panels.