Keeping Your Solar Panels Working During the Winter

Image by Mike Weston (via Flickr)
Image by Mike Weston (via Flickr)

Many people have taken advantage of solar technology as it is a great source of alternative energy during the summer months when the sun is high in the sky.  But what about during the winter months?  Will your solar panels work the same during the winter?  What about if the panels get covered with snow?

One good thing is that since solar panels work on light not heat, cold winters aren’t a factor in keeping your solar panels generating energy throughout the winter. However, during the winter months there are shorter daylight hours, so you’re pretty much guaranteed your panels won’t generate as much energy as they do during the summer. Additionally, snow is a factor in keeping your solar panels working. If the panels get covered by snow they might stop producing power.

Did you know “because of the way solar panels are wired together, a little bit of snow – or bird droppings or leaves – blocking just a portion of an array can dramatically cut the output“? Needless to say, your panels will work better with no snow on them.

So even though it’s not on the top of your list during the holidays, you’ll want to keep your solar panels clean and functioning as best as they can during the winter. Solar panels can still generate energy under overcast or cloudy conditions, but if your panels are covered with snow, it is less likely light will be able to get through.  Some tips I’ve heard about removing snow from your solar panels include:

1) Use a roof rake or similar tool to pull the snow off the panels.  Be careful though as you don’t want to scratch the panels.  Some people recommend adding a squeegee strip to the bottom of it, as it will be softer on your panels.

2) Clear away a small patch of snow and let the sun do the rest.  Once a small patch is removed, the solar panel attracts the sun and it can sometimes assist in getting the rest of the snow to melt on its own.

3) If it isn’t too cold, spray the snow off the roof and panels with a garden hose.

4) If you can keep your solar panels tilted, the snow will be easier to get off and sometimes will slide off on its own.

But don’t forget, even though your solar panels may not be producing as much energy as they did during the summer months, you may have accumulated excess energy during the summer that can help offset your winter usage.  (Check with your local utility.)

If you don’t already have solar panels, it’s definitely an investment worth considering…you can get federal tax credits for energy-efficient improvements too. If you do have panels and have any other great tips for keeping your solar panels working during the winter, I’d love to hear them!

  1. December 11, 2009

    Some new panels tilt backward in the northern hemisphere to let the snow slide off in the morning.

    1. December 11, 2009

      That’s awesome….smart idea! 🙂

  2. December 25, 2009

    I have tried to understand installing solar panels for some time now and always enjoy finding out about information I have not seen before. The benefits of solar panels will become essential and it is hard to see a better way to go. I always want to find out more by researching online and in books but I learned something new today. Great blog I will suggest my friends come to view it

  3. Jody
    January 18, 2010

    We have solar panels but they are installed on the roof of a 3 story. If a snow rake is not an option (unless on a very tall ladder, not recommended), what are other options for keeping snow off that you would recommend?

    1. January 19, 2010

      Hi Jody, thanks for your comment. While I’m not an expert on the subject, I could suggest checking out some of these additional ideas – – one that might work well for you is the heat tape. I hope that helps! Great job on having solar panels btw 😀

  4. January 22, 2011

    We keep our PV panels snow free all winter using RoofIce Melt Sock.

  5. February 10, 2018

    Cleaning solar panels is not really that much different than cleaning a typical window. It is not very time-consuming either. Neglecting to clean your solar panels is not much different than throwing money out of the window.Self-cleaning solar systems are available for those lazy folks out there that are willing to spend the extra buck.

  6. September 21, 2018

    Self cleaning the solar panels are easy and not a tedious task either.Just be careful that it doesn’t get scratched

  7. December 10, 2018

    Very good written article. It will be supportive to anyone who utilizes it, including me.

  8. June 15, 2022

    Nice Post. Thanks for sharing this informative content!

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