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Thread: Solar Panels and Shedding Snow

  1. #1

    Default 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 at 21:49 PDT.

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Jun 2003
    pittsburgh, pa

    Default 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.

  3. #3

    Default 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.
    Four 175 Watt panels, OB MX60, 232 Amp hrs, OB 3524, Honda eu2000.

    Ohm's Law: Amps = Volts / Ohms
    Power Formula: Watts = Volts * Amps

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Apr 2009
    California Sierra near Mariposa

    Default Re: Solar Panels and Shedding Snow

    This is how I treat them in the picture. Every night they go vertical!
    "we go where the power lines don't"

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Jul 2007
    Quetico, Ontario

    Default 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.


    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!

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Apr 2009
    Northern NH

    Default 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.

  7. #7

    Default Re: Solar Panels and Shedding Snow

    Quote 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.


  8. #8
    Join Date
    Feb 2010
    South of Erie, North of Pittsburgh PA

    Default 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

  9. #9

    Default 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.
    Last edited by reedsnvt; December 9th, 2012 at 8:22 PST.

  10. #10

    Default 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, Prosine 1800 watt inverter, up and running 1 Classic Lite and 14 Suntech 185W in spare room.
    Cabin system- 8-115watt 12V, 6 - 170-5watt 24v, Pulse/Trace PC250 Power Center, 800AH 24V forklift Batt, ProSine 1800 watt (24v) inverter.
    Odds and extras, Rouge CC, 80-4/5watt 6v panels

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