Solar in Winter: Still worth it
The snow seen here seems to suggest this 15 KW solar array by Wind and Solar LLC is in the wrong place. A very common question we get is "how about the snow, will it affect my solar installation?". The short answer is: "Yes, but no".
When a solar estimate is provided, we give the projected average production figures for a year. That means that the decreased production for the winter months (including average snow days for the region) and the increased production during longer summer days are all taken into consideration. This information is readily available from government agencies such as the National Renewable Energy Laboratory, as well as from private sector manufacturers. We also speak from experience, our installations always produce the yearly average we predict within a +/- 5% range.
Typically snow will slide off the array on its own within 1-3 days, depending on how cold it is. Solar panels tend to warm up quickly, and they have a hydrophobic glass surface. This means that the snow will slide off as soon as the sun starts to heat up the environment and surfaces around the array. Solar panels are typically the first surface to rid themselves of snow after a storm.
However, our customers tend to be very passionate about producing clean and free energy! Any time a solar panel is covered in snow it will not produce any electricity because no sunlight is reaching the cells in the panels. So if you wanted to wipe the snow off immediately following a snow storm, you will begin producing energy asap.
Fact: During days where there is no snowfall but it is still cold, panels actually run more efficiently! The amount of energy produced by panels on frigid days when its still sunny out is relatively higher. There is less energy lost to heat transfer.
Will the weight of snow damage your solar panels? Solar panels are typically installed at an angle, so the snow will slide off due to gravity before it can ever become an issue. Even so, solar panels are sturdy enough to hold a significant amount of weight. Each panel has a rating of over 100 pounds/ square foot, that's a lot of snow!
In conclusion; Solar energy will be a great investment for your home, business or farm regardless of the snowstorms you might get in a year.