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Thread: Keep snow off solar panels!

  1. #1
    alex@aspenlog Guest

    Default Keep snow off solar panels!

    I am researching starting a new company selling solar panels in Utah, and very quickly realized that there is nothing developed to keep snow off of the panels in winter. I have since started development of a simple device to do just that, but wanted to get some feedback before starting production. How big a problem is keeping snow off of the panels?

  2. #2

    Default Re: Keep snow off solar panels!

    tell us more about your device? there may be something in the works for snow melting but we will see. i am curius about your device does it melt it or sweep it or what?
    16 Trojan L16RE-B @ 48v XW6048 Inverter with ComBox. 3250 watts of Suntech panels wired 5 in series running 300 feet to a Classic 200. 3000 watts of solar world modules wired 2 in series running 120 feet to a Classic 150. Bergey XL1 on a 90ft tower running to an AC Clipper and then to a Classic 250. Lister Clone spinning a 120v gen rectified and fed to a Classic 200. Electric hot water heater and induction cook-top (Replaced the propane unit. Good riddance)

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Feb 2003
    Location
    Green Bay, WI
    Posts
    591

    Default Re: Keep snow off solar panels!

    In our last house I never had an issue. I wasn't thinking about wind where we are now. I mounted the panels on a south facing roof, but the house continues further south of the garage. So to the west of our panels I have the east facing house roof, the panels sort of start in that valley and continue further east. The problem is the snow blows from the Northwest and drops in the southeast corner of that part of the roof, right where I have the panels.

    After our first big snow storm (11 inches with a lot of wind) the panels in the corner were buried by more than 3 feet of snow. I had to put a harness on and go shovel out the panels, quite a pain. The garage roof 10 feet to the east was windswept and clear. I do have mounts all the way across but started in the valley, right where all the snow stuck.

    Our panels are tilted enough so snow can slide off, but not if there is no place for the snow to slide to. I would think in most cases design and location would rule out snow coverage, but sometimes it canít be avoided.

    Oh now I keep our pool brush right there and can pull the snow away from the bottom side of the panels so they can self clear, needless to say next summer the panels are moving 10 feet east.
    XW6048, 4 KC 120's, 4 KC 130's and 4 Evergreen 200's totaling 1800w of PV, MX-60 charge controller, Trimetric meter and eight AGM 8A8D's or 490 amps at 48v. 4 tons of geothermal and 3 tons of air source.

  4. #4
    alex@aspenlog Guest

    Default Re: Keep snow off solar panels!

    Melts. From what I understand once light begins to hit the panel they heat up and pretty much takes over from there. My device just starts the process. It works like a defroster for your car winow

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Apr 2007
    Location
    Lakeland Florida
    Posts
    1,959

    Default Re: Keep snow off solar panels!

    Latitudes that have snow require the panels be at a steep pitch for proper operation ( Sun angle is very low in the horizon and require 45 to 60 degree pitch on the panels ). Panels self-shed the snow

  6. #6

    Default Re: Keep snow off solar panels!

    well i am fairly north here in maine and my panels do not self shed i wish they did. but the snow melt idea is being thrown around and seems like a good one. on my array as soon as it gets started it will slide rite off.
    16 Trojan L16RE-B @ 48v XW6048 Inverter with ComBox. 3250 watts of Suntech panels wired 5 in series running 300 feet to a Classic 200. 3000 watts of solar world modules wired 2 in series running 120 feet to a Classic 150. Bergey XL1 on a 90ft tower running to an AC Clipper and then to a Classic 250. Lister Clone spinning a 120v gen rectified and fed to a Classic 200. Electric hot water heater and induction cook-top (Replaced the propane unit. Good riddance)

  7. #7
    alex@aspenlog Guest

    Default Re: Keep snow off solar panels!

    will covering the panels with another thin layer of plexiglas reduce light absorption?

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Jul 2007
    Location
    Quetico, Ontario
    Posts
    5,025

    Default Re: Keep snow off solar panels!

    A little sweep as needed, and within an hour or so in sun they melt off. The worst is warm snow (not an oxymoron!) on cold panels, that freezes to a thick crust at the bottom of the snow. That takes a bit to melt off, but normal snow melts pretty quickly.

    A simple idea is some frost-tex type heat tape around the edges of each panels. Controlled by a switch rather than a t-stat, they draw under 3 watts/foot, only when they are on. You could also carefully run a string of frost-tex across a panel, making sure you don't shade individual cells. The tiny amount of heat would allow the panels to melt off even faster if getting on a roof to sweep them is out of the question.

    Tony

    PS. My panels are near the ridge. The problem is that the panels may slide, but the roof below the doesn't, so that even when I sweep them, I have to shovel out below them a couple of times a winter to clear the build up of snow below the bottom edges of the panels.
    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!

  9. #9
    Join Date
    Mar 2006
    Location
    SF Bay Area (California)
    Posts
    21,230

    Default Re: Keep snow off solar panels!

    Yes... But you can confirm that for yourself...

    Take any silicon solar cell/panel and connect it to a amp meter. The output current of a shorted silicon solar cell is pretty much proportional to the amount of light energy it receives.

    The ratio of the two readings (behind plastic, no plastic; both in the same sun) will give you the answer.

    -Bill

  10. #10
    Join Date
    Jul 2007
    Location
    Quetico, Ontario
    Posts
    5,025

    Default Re: Keep snow off solar panels!

    Quote Originally Posted by alex@aspenlog View Post
    will covering the panels with another thin layer of plexiglas reduce light absorption?
    The short answer is yes to some extent, but the question is, why would you want to do this? Plexiglas, and most plastics will yellow in the sun over time, and will reduce transmittance significantly over time.

    I can't think of why adding a layer of plexiglass would aid in melting the panels.

    Tony
    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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