Snowfall and Solar Systems

If you’re considering going solar, you might be wondering if cold and snowy midwestern winters should affect your decision. This is one of the most asked questions we get.  Third Sun Solar has 19 years of experience installing systems on all types of buildings across Ohio. To date, our portfolio includes nearly 900 installations in the mid-west. These folks didn’t let our cold winters or snowfall discourage them from going solar, and you shouldn’t either!    

Can my solar panels produce energy if they are covered in snow? No, a solid covering of snow all but shuts off production.  The good news is that overall production loss from the snow is very small when looking at performance on an annual basis. Losing a day of production in January is a fraction of a day in July.  Here at Third Sun Solar, our team takes winter’s shorter days, snowfall and the orientation of sunlight all into account when estimating the output of your system. 

Residential Solar System Covered in Snow

Depending on the tilt of your roof and the slant of your panels, snow will typically slide off on its own. Even in the heart of winter solar panels give off a small amount of heat, which helps to warm and melt the snow. Additionally, snow on the ground can reflect light, amplifying the sunlight absorbed by your solar panels. During sunny winter days, the sun will warm the dark solar panels and the snow will melt and snow will typically slide off the smooth surface. An added bonus? Cleaning the panels won’t be necessary, snow can get this job done easily!  

Are cold temperatures bad for my solar panels? Unless covered in snow, solar panels are actually more efficient in cold conditions.  Like most electronics, solar panels function better at colder temperatures than under intense heat.  Most arrays hit their highest power generation of the year on cold clear winter days at noon.   

Should I try to clear the snow off my solar panels? Snow will usually melt quickly off your panels. There is the occasional blizzard, however, that leaves snow lingering on rooftops for an extended period of time. Overall, yearly production loss from snow cover is very small. At Third Sun, we do not recommend trying to clear the solar panels. Getting onto a roof in inclement weather is dangerous and using any type of tool on the panels themselves can damage the panels. Snow falling off of the panels can be a nuisance, and if the lower edge of a roof mounted array is close to the edge of the roof, we will recommend “Snow Guards” over doorways or areas with pedestrian activity. 

Remember that, living in the Midwest, the worst of the winter months and the short days only last for about three months. Time with reduced solar output is limited. In the sunny summer months, your system can generate more solar energy than you use, which will be reflected in a surplus energy credit. At the end of the year, our customers are happy with their overall annual production.   

Now that you know this, consider…  

2019 is the final year to get the full 30% federal tax credit before it drops. Ohio homeowners are realizing the savings and the return on investment will increase when you go solar before the end of 2019.   

If you would like a quote for your home, business, or non-profit please sign up for a free solar estimate or call 877-OWN-SOLAR today.