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  • Solar Panels and Shedding Snow

    Anyone have any experience with treating solar panels with silicone spray or Rainx to improve the snow shedding? Our remote cabin in the winter gets quite a bit of snow and often does not shed the snow very well. The panels are set during winter to a very vertical position to help shed the snow.

    Before closing up the cabin I cleaned all 4 panels and treated one with Rainx and the other 3 with spray on Silicone spray (easier to apply than Rainx!). I don't get back often during winter, but will be curious if the coating makes any difference.

    Experience from others?

    BTW - last couple of winters were especially tough with early December wet snows that brought around 30 inches of snow over a few days. See picture below to get an idea of how much snow we had by late December.

    Last edited by Panamapat; October 7th, 2009, 21:49.

  • #2

    Re: Solar Panels and Shedding Snow

    Re: Solar Panels and Shedding Snow

    you may want to consider having the pvs vertical or nearly vertical to prevent the build up and mounting them high enough that the built up snow runoff won't shadow the bottom of the pvs. i can't say if the sprays hindered or helped you, but i personally would not put something on the pvs that may hinder some collection during clear times.
    NIEL

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    • #3

      Re: Solar Panels and Shedding Snow

      Re: Solar Panels and Shedding Snow

      Rain-X only works if there is air flow; it is a surfactant. I'm not sure putting silicon spray on PV's is a good idea either; it can be sticky for dirt and leaves.

      Most of us in the frozen climes find that near-vertical tilt + enough space for the snow to fall off to = sufficient measures. Especially if you don't use them in Winter: no big need for maximum Watts.

      Tony (Icarus) has at least one mounted full vertical to keep charge in wintering-over batteries.

      Other than "sticky wet snow" adhesion isn't a problem. Usually changes in weather, including bright sun on panels, is enough to keep them clear.

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      • #4

        Re: Solar Panels and Shedding Snow

        Re: Solar Panels and Shedding Snow

        This is how I treat them in the picture. Every night they go vertical!
        http://members.sti.net/offgridsolar/
        "we go where the power lines don't"

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        • #5

          Re: Solar Panels and Shedding Snow

          Re: Solar Panels and Shedding Snow

          As Marc mentioned,

          I keep two panels mounted on hinges on the wall instead of the roof. This way when I go away there is always some Pv getting to the batteries. Other than that, I sweep the roof mounted panels after a big snowfall, mostly because I am greedy and want the power. If I wait a day or so they will clear themselves (12/12 pitch). Warm wet snow is the biggest problem. Below about -5 and the wind keeps them clear, although if we get a huge dump they can drift over.

          I would doubt that any "spray" or what have you will give you much advantage.

          Tony.

          PS. If your cabin is un-occupied for the bulk of the winter, consider a couple of wall mounts just to keep the batteries in float. If you are there on the week ends say, then just sweep them off.
          Please note, being a moderator does not add any weight to my opinions 300 watts Siemens/BP panels,plus a Sun 90,, making ~400. ~30 amps into Rogue MPT-3024, 450 ah of Trojan T-105, Morningstar ts300 inverter, a Tri-Metric meter.a collection of antique generators, plus 2 Honda eu-1000i's (also a BS2512 IX controller) and assorted other stuff!

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          • #6

            Re: Solar Panels and Shedding Snow

            Re: Solar Panels and Shedding Snow

            I ran into a study one day from a group in Canada who wanted to come up with options for keeping the snow off pole mounted PV systems on remote sites. Their concept was to install black panels on the back of the PV panels. The theory was that when the sun comes out on a snow covered day, there is quite a bit of diffuse sun reflected back from the snow even at the back of the panels. By hanging the black material directly behind the panel, this reflected sunlight would slightly raise the temperature of the surface of the panels making them melt off quicker.

            I have observed this in the past that just a bit of heat (the palm of a hand) on the back of a panel is all it takes for the lump of snow on the front of the panel to slump off.

            I wish I could find a link to the study to see how well it worked.

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            • #7

              Re: Solar Panels and Shedding Snow

              Re: Solar Panels and Shedding Snow

              Originally posted by icarus View Post

              PS. If your cabin is un-occupied for the bulk of the winter, consider a couple of wall mounts just to keep the batteries in float. If you are there on the week ends say, then just sweep them off.
              I've got one of my 55 watt panels mounted vertical and up very high so the snow cannot get to it in the winter. 4 of the panels (~300 watts total) are mounted with the panel bottom around 3 foot above ground at around 65-70 degree angle. I mounted them on what looks like a large erector set made of 2" pipes.

              I may find the Rainx and Silicone spray experiments will not do anything to help shed snow. But not having the luxury to regularly sweep the snow off the panels in the winter, I figured I'd try and experiment. Interesting to note that after Rainx and Silicone treatments, the panels were crystal clear but with a very very slippery surface. Will report back when I'm up there again.

              Pat

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              • #8

                Re: Solar Panels and Shedding Snow

                Re: Solar Panels and Shedding Snow

                Pat I hope you update how the rainx worked for you. I am going to try some on my panels And after winter is over I will report on it too. Solar Vic
                16 KC 158G & 3 KD185GX-LPU panels on Fronius IG PLUS 3.0-1 inverter and 14 SHARP NDU3A & 1 KD185GXU panel on FRONIUS IG-3000 inverter. All mounted on pole top racks. Retired and enjoying it!!

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                • #9

                  Re: Solar Panels and Shedding Snow

                  Re: Solar Panels and Shedding Snow

                  Solarvic/Panamapat..... any report on the rain-x? Here in Vermont, ice is my biggest problem, even with a 62.5 tilt.
                  -Thanks
                  Last edited by reedsnvt; December 9th, 2012, 8:22.
                  Xantrex 4048, Flexmax 60, 12 Canadian Solar 250 W, 16 Rolls s-600's, Trimetrix TM-2025, Generac Ecogen.

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                  • #10

                    Re: Solar Panels and Shedding Snow

                    Re: Solar Panels and Shedding Snow

                    I think we have a thread where rain-X specificly does NOT recomend using it's product on solar panels. I have used their windshield wiper fluid on my panels, hoping to prevent dust from settling on them, and it seemed to work somewhat.
                    Home system- 20 - 200W Evergreen blems, 2 Classic Lites, E-Panel, 2 Prosine 1800 watt inverters, 800AH 24V forklift Batt, up and running 1 Classic Lite and 14 Suntech 185W in spare room.
                    Experience with Pulse/Trace PC250 Power Center, Original Rouge CC, 80-4/5watt 6v panels, Odds and extras,

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                    • #11

                      Re: Solar Panels and Shedding Snow

                      Re: Solar Panels and Shedding Snow

                      I would think that the main concern would be the chemicals de-bonding the glass to cell and letting water to get in over time? Most panel mfg's recommend only mild soap and water for cleaning.
                      Operating 20ea Trina 230W panels,(4600W, 3838W CEC) Zantrex GT3.8 inverter, IronRidge rails and 6 in standoffs, 08/2010. Added 20 ea ET 250W (5000W, 4315 CEC) Conext TX3800 inverter online 07/2013. Installed with IronRidge rails and 7in standoffs. Monitoring with TED 5004C, & Conext ComBox. 47+KW to date 06/22/15 100% Owner installed, Permitted and PG&E Net metered, NEMS H. New MPPT60-150, XW4024 Grid support Added with Battery Monitor 07/2014, 370AH Batteries 4@6V Duracell Tall Case (L16).

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                      • #12

                        Re: Solar Panels and Shedding Snow

                        Re: Solar Panels and Shedding Snow

                        I'm tempted to try RainX. I don't quite understand how it could damage the glass on the panels or how it could get under the glass to damage the bonding to the pv cells, etc. Seems like many have tried it. Did it work? Any actual reports of damage to panels or is this just a RE myth?

                        I wish Midnite would get their snow melt feature implemented.
                        Array 1: Sanyo HIT225 X 8 on Wattsun tracker. Array 2: Evergreen ES-E-225 X 12 on shed roof. Midnite e-panel with Outback GVFX3648, FNDC and Classic 150 X 2. 436 AH AGMs. Honda eu2000i X 2. Outback PSX-240 autotransformer. Remote monitoring and control with HP netbook running UltraVNC, Wattplot, Midnite local app and Cumulus weather station software. Waiting to be installed: PowerSpout ME120 microhydro turbine and 3rd Midnite Classic 150.

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                        • #13

                          Re: Solar Panels and Shedding Snow

                          Re: Solar Panels and Shedding Snow

                          Perhaps they are just worried about liability, but, About 3rd from the bottom on their FAQ's;

                          http://www.carid.com/images/rain-x/info/rain-x-faq.html

                          They have been using a coating to aid in light transmision (non reflective?) on solar panels so pehaps it effects that.

                          I was using the rain-X windshield washer fluid on mine to help keep dust from settling on it, and I think it helped a bit.
                          Home system- 20 - 200W Evergreen blems, 2 Classic Lites, E-Panel, 2 Prosine 1800 watt inverters, 800AH 24V forklift Batt, up and running 1 Classic Lite and 14 Suntech 185W in spare room.
                          Experience with Pulse/Trace PC250 Power Center, Original Rouge CC, 80-4/5watt 6v panels, Odds and extras,

                          Comment


                          • #14

                            Re: Solar Panels and Shedding Snow

                            Re: Solar Panels and Shedding Snow

                            i'd be curious why none of you just didn't bypass the controller and put the battery power straight to the pvs? the pvs will drain a tad of current from the batteries and that would translate to a bit of heat to melt the snow/ice with. if you have a gt system then obviously that method won't work, but you could string up some heat tape if you really are desperate to just get the melting started thinking of directly on top of the glass, but for a more permanent heat tape install it would need to go underneath the pvs and that sounds a bit shaky to implement.
                            NIEL

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                            • #15

                              Re: Solar Panels and Shedding Snow

                              Re: Solar Panels and Shedding Snow

                              I decided not to use the rainex. Someone mentioned it might ruin the factory coating on the panels that help the absorcation of the light that helps to make electric. Just went to home depot and got an aluminum extendable handle and squegee that is for cleaniing windows. solarvic
                              16 KC 158G & 3 KD185GX-LPU panels on Fronius IG PLUS 3.0-1 inverter and 14 SHARP NDU3A & 1 KD185GXU panel on FRONIUS IG-3000 inverter. All mounted on pole top racks. Retired and enjoying it!!

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