So Jack Frost paid your property a visit and now your array is covered by a beautiful (and annoying) blanket of snow. You’re stuck wondering if you need to be worried about snow on your solar panels. Will they hurt your array’s production and leave you stranded with an expensive electric bill?
The Bad News: Snow on solar panels will hurt production
When a solar panel is covered by a thick layer of snow, sunlight is unable to get through to the cells. Since the sunlight is blocked, the cells are blocked from sunlight and unable to generate energy.
However, in the larger picture of your energy savings, snow actually has an insignificant effect on your solar production.
The Good News: It won’t affect your overall savings
When you consider an array’s yearly energy production, winter days are significantly less important than summer days.
Most solar systems are “Grid-Tied.” This means your solar array is not only connected to your property, but also to your local power grid. During the summer months, solar arrays often produce more electricity than your property uses during daylight hours. The excess electricity is sent back to the grid, which you can be compensated for by your utility. Most utilities measure compensation through a process called “Net Metering.”
In this scenario, a meter on your property measures how much energy is sent to the grid. Your utility rewards you for that energy by awarding you credits. The credits are used to pay for the electricity you pull from the grid when your array doesn’t generate enough to cover your energy needs (like when the sun has gone down).
As a result of Net Metering, you don’t need to rely solely on the production of your array in the winter to reduce your winter electric bills.
Also, solar professionals design arrays for a specific purpose—which is often completely offsetting your electric bill. They take special measures to ensure your array will accomplish your goals. Simpleray, for example, factors your region’s typical snowfall into our calculations to ensure your array is achieving your objective.
The Best Part: The snow will be gone soon
Because of the design of most arrays, the snow on solar panels will often be gone before any on the roof. The dark silicone cells of solar panels are designed to absorb heat from sunlight. Once any portion of a panel is exposed to the sun, heat spreads throughout the panel and melts the snow. Then, thanks to the sharp angle, the rest will easily slide off. This is why it's common to see a home with uncovered solar panels while the rest of the roof is covered in snow.
So sit back with a warm cup of hot chocolate and enjoy the snow! Your array will be back to generating clean energy in no time at all.