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Snow on Solar Panels: Everything you Need to Know

In Colorado, snow on solar panels is simply a part of owning a PV system. Every year, solar panels may be affected by snow all winter and well into the spring during a good “ski season.”

As a local solar company in Denver, Colorado, Apollo Energy answers solar panel snow questions constantly, so we have developed this quick guide for everything you need to know about snow on solar panels.

Snow on solar panels in Denver already melting near the roof vent mid-snowstorm.

Does snow cover affect solar panels?

Yes, snow cover affects a solar panel’s ability to generate electricity. When there is snow on your solar panels, they will not be able to harness the direct sunlight necessary for efficient energy production.

What many people don’t know is that for solar panels, snow also has an undeniable positive effect. Once the snow melts and slides off of the panel, any debris that has built up over time is washed away along with it. Essentially, snowfall provides a free cleaning service that allows PV solar panels to continuously capture as much sunlight as possible.

Should you remove snow from solar panels?

Despite the fact that it temporarily hinders energy production, in truth, you should not remove snow from solar panels. Not only is this a safety issue (watch out for falling snow!), but you could also potentially damage your system in an effort to clear the snowed-in area.

How long does snow stay on solar panels?

Thankfully, snow typically only stays on solar panels for 12-48 hours after a storm. Solar panels are slick and installed at an angle to capture direct sunlight, which plays to their advantage in the winter.

With a little bit of sunlight, snow is able to melt and slide off of the panels long before any other exposed parts of the roof. Here in Colorado, it’s no secret that overnight snows are usually already melted off of solar panels by the early afternoon.

How cold can solar panels get?

High-quality solar panels are designed with operating temperatures that reach below freezing. In fact, like many electronics, solar panels actually work much more efficiently in colder temperatures.

Although sunlight hours are limited in the winter, increased efficiency and reflection of sunlight off of snow keeps solar panels working well, all year round.

Learn more about how solar panels work in the winter.

Wrapping Up

To sum it up, snow on solar panels is both a blessing and a temporary inconvenience. In Colorado, we receive enough sunlight in the winter that solar panel systems can still be an effective way to generate electricity and lower the cost of utility expenses throughout the colder months of the year.

Did you know that January is actually the best month to buy solar panels? If you plan to go solar in 2021, purchasing a system at the beginning of this year will ensure that it is installed and operating in the summer, when electricity bills and sunlight are typically at their highest.


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