The first snow of the season is a symbol of winter and Christmas. For solar system owners, it can be an unwanted guest that has to be dealt with quickly. Snow on photovoltaic panels will reduce the amount of power generated by the system, it also reduces its efficiency by reflecting sunlight back into space before it reaches your home or office. This post discusses how to deal with this problem effectively for maximum benefit.
Minus degrees, sunshine, and the photovoltaic system are covered with snow. Despite optimal conditions, this means for all photovoltaic system owners that no electricity can be generated because no sunlight can reach the modules.
Now the plant operators ask themselves not unjustifiably the question, should the plant now be freed from snow or not?
Opinions differ here because of the danger involved in clearing snow. Should one sit out the time when the snow is on the roofs or would it be better to remove the snow so that the photovoltaic system is functional again?
The biggest fear of photovoltaic system operators in winter when there is a lot of snow is the loss of yield. But the risk of damage to the roof or building from the snow load is many times higher.
If you look at the yields of a PV system in summer or in winter, you can see that the system produces three-quarters of the yields during the summer months. Only a quarter is produced in winter. This means that on a hot summer day as much electricity can be generated as on 7 days in winter. Nevertheless, the PV system should not be abandoned in winter to generate electricity.
As you can see, snow has a significant effect on the yields. We will show you in the following article how to best remove snow from your PV modules.
Snow removal on the PV modules – useful or not?
On a roof with a roof pitch of more than 30 degrees, are lucky. Because normally the snow slides off by itself at this angle of inclination. So the modules can further convert the sunlight into electricity. However, if you own a house that does not have such a roof pitch, either wait for mild weather or make sure that the PV modules are cleared of snow.
In the case of light snowfall, i.e. when only a few flakes are left on the PV system, the effort of clearing the snow is out of proportion to the benefit. It is best to wait until the next day when the snow has melted.
With a medium snow cover, it can already come to a total failure, if the solar modules are completely covered by snow. However, the average yield values for the month of January, for example, are around 20 to 25 kWh per kWp, while in June they are 120 to 138 kWh per kWp. The yield reduction is therefore comparatively small. Snow removal can be carried out but does not have to.
However, if the snow remains on the PV modules for a longer period of time, the total loss of power generation by the system is guaranteed. In addition, there is the risk of damaging the roof. Snow removal is absolutely recommended.
Possibilities for snow removal
To clear the PV modules from snow, there are several options. However, if you want to clear the photovoltaic modules of snow yourself, you should pay attention to a few things!
- Pay attention to your own safety! Basically, you should only climb on the roof with fall protection and safety lines. Due to the snow, there is an increased risk of slipping.
- Use suitable tools! When uncovering the PV modules, do not use shovels or other sharp tools. It is better to use a rake for solar panels to avoid scratching the modules.
- Use telescopic poles! You can use a telescopic pole (5-10 meters long) for snow removal.
- Remove snow regularly! It makes sense in the winter months to clear the PV modules of snow. This is because when the snow thaws during the day, a layer of ice often forms overnight from the slush, which is very difficult to remove. Therefore, it is best to remove snow from the PV modules immediately after a snowfall.
- Call in the experts! If there is too much snow on the PV system, it is recommended to have the snow on the PV system removed by a specialist. Although this involves costs, it can make sense, especially in the case of large amounts of snow. This is because high snow loads can damage the substructure under certain circumstances; especially in the case of a prolonged period of snow. The professionals have the necessary experience and the right tools.
Basically, if there is not too much snow on the PV modules, it is a better choice not to remove the snow. Since the winter months are a low-yield period anyway – the PV system generates three-quarters of its yield in the summer half-year.
Removing snow from the PV system is therefore controversial. There is usually only a really good reason for doing so if the roof has a low pitch and if the snow loads are enormous. Of course, this can only be decided on a case-by-case basis and is best done together with an expert. When installing and commissioning the system, you should definitely find out what loads the construction and overall the roof can withstand. If you absolutely want to take over the snow removal yourself, make sure in any case that there is sufficient accident prevention. It is advisable to use special clearing tools that make climbing around on the roof unnecessary. Moreover, these tools do not have any sharp edges and thus protect the photovoltaic modules.