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How to deal with snow on solar PV modules

Posted by Chris Rudge on 7 January 2010 at 11:36 am

This past weeks little deluge of snow may have provided a nice seasonal blanket of white over your solar PV modules. While the glass in most modules has self cleaning properties, the adhesion of snow means it will cover the modules until the temperature rises. In the case of a ground mounted system, you can simply clean them off yourself.

Light is restricted through the snow, so output will be down, but you may be pleasantly surprised to see that on a sunny day with a covering of snow, the output is quite good. This is because the module temperature is really low, which improves efficiency, plus snow still transmits diffused light. Only when any layer of snow gets quite thick, will the output start to drop off dramatically.

Photo by Mike Weston

About the author: Chris Rudge is a qualified electrician who specialises in renewable energy.

If you have a question about anything in the above blog, please ask it in the comments section below.

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Comments

3 comments - read them below or add one

muymalestado

muymalestadoComment left on: 24 May 2012 at 10:37 pm

To save clambering in unsafe conditions the first bit of PV bling we bought was a snow shovel from Wolf-Garten; as in this link - 

http://www.microgen-database.org.uk/uploads/e7/35/e735a2beeb79913d453727b1a05f3eab/IMG_2178_SFW.jpg

(If the link works)

(edit - the link does work)

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Chris Rudge

Chris Rudge from Rudge EnergyComment left on: 7 January 2010 at 2:04 pm

Yes, if the modules are within easy safe reach, then cleaning off the snow is far better. However, dont risk your life clambering onto a roof!

Recently built roofs should be designed to take a loading of at least 100kgs per square metre plus snow loading. Slates weigh in at 25kg a sq metre, and Concrete tiles can be up to 75kgs a sq mtr. A PV array will be around 12 -14 Kg sqmtr maximum. 


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ePower-Solar

ePower-SolarComment left on: 7 January 2010 at 12:29 pm

I would always recommend to wipe the snow of the solarpanels. This is simply due to the decrease in efficiency and also the additional weight load it might imply on the mounting or suporting structure. Imagine your whole roof is covered with solar (adding about 14 kg per sqm) and than you add another 10 kg for 1m of wet snow. Thats distributed over a surface area of 120 sqm is quite some weight.

Regarding the temperature you are 100% right. This is why I always recommend customers to not overlook the temperature coefficient when buying a 12V-Solarmodul or any other solar panel.

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