Winter Solar Panel Maintenance Tips
Solar panels are designed to help power your life year round, but, like all great designs, even the best solar panels need proper maintenance. To keep your solar panels functioning at an optimum level through the harsh Denver winters, there are certain precautions you should take, just like when you winter-proof your home and shovel the driveway.
Reduce Your Home’s Energy Consumption
Solar panels, despite what you have heard, are entirely capable of pulling power on cloudy days, just at a slightly reduced rate. Overcast conditions increase during the winter and the days become shorter, giving your system less time to collect the light that it turns into electricity. Additionally, the light going through the clouds becomes diffused and hits the panels at unfavorable angles. This reduction means that you have to take precautions to stabilize your energy consumption during the frigid months of the year.
Energy Saving Tips
There are many things you can do to reduce your energy consumption during the winter — and your carbon footprint in general.
- One of the first things to tackle is your home’s insulation. Moderate to large sized homes expel lots of energy when poorly insulated, and heating a house with inadequate insulation is a futile, power-wasting prospect. Check your insulation to make sure your solar panels don’t have to work hard to keep you warm.
- One simple thing you can do is to make sure to shut off all the lights in your home when they are not being used. This trick cannot only substantially reduce your energy usage (and save you money on your bills), it also fosters healthy habits for everyone in the home.
- Consider investing in energy-efficient bulbs. In some cases, these bulbs can cut power consumption by as much as half.
Remove Snow from Solar Panels
Some parts of solar panel maintenance are more hands on, and making sure that snowfall does not interrupt energy collection is one of them. When panels are installed professionally, the specialist tries to position them in a way that ensures they collect as much energy as possible without interruption by things like falling or accumulating snow. They do this by installing the panels so that they face south, west or southwest. During the course of a normal snowfall, snow doesn’t stick to the smooth surface of solar panels as it does to wood and roof shingles. That means that you won’t have to worry about clearing snow unless you have been dealing with something like an unusually heavy snowfall or a blizzard.
Remember that solar panels are durable enough to stand things like sleet and rainfall, and are engineered to withstand maximum snow loads for your area but they are not able to deal with the impact of a shovel that swings wide as you try and clear snow. You could easily crack the panels, which would render them useless. Carefully remove the snow with a soft broom or brush
Luckily, it typically doesn’t take long for the sun to come back out after a Colorado snowstorm. Typically, the sun will quickly soften the snowpack and snow will shed off your panels, giving them a good cleaning. Depending on the location of your panels, some homeowners may wish to install a snow guard on a portion of their system to ensure that the snow shed is gradual and controlled. Snow guards are small pieces of equipment that are installed on the bottom edge of your solar array to break up and catch cascading snow as it sheds from your solar panels. Snow guards can be particularly useful when your solar panels are over top a door or walkway.
Once you have an understanding of what it takes to care for your solar panels, you will recognize that the benefits of consistent clean energy far outweigh the effort involved in proper maintenance.
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