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What Happens to Your Solar Panels When It Snows?

Meteorologists are predicting one of the coldest, snowiest winters on record for 2011 – 2012. Exacta Weather forecaster James Madden says there is “a potentially record-breaking US winter for 2011-2012 with extremely cold temperatures and exceptional levels of snow.” If you’re thinking about a solar installation in order to take advantage of the 2011 tax credit, you may have a few questions on your mind about how well your solar PV array will work in the snow.

In fact, it will work fine — and can also help piles of snow melt faster, so it may help you avoid roof cave-ins and other issues that can arise when heavy snow piles on a roof for prolonged periods.

A Solar Installer Explains How it Works
A.J. Nystrom of Long Island-based solar installer Innovated Solar, explains, “After the snow, there’s always that bright sunshine. The first thing that starts to melt is your roof, and your solar system will help speed this process.”

As the snow melts — or if there’s only a light dusting to start — the sun reflects on the panel and then up into the snow, and then back into the panel, creating a mirror effect. This helps the snow melt even quicker. Finally, once the snow is gone, your system will be operating at peak efficiency in the bright after-snowfall sunlight.

If you have several feet of snow on your roof, you may want to go out and give your solar array a helping hand by wiping it off, but this definitely isn’t necessary. The panels also give off heat as they operate, which further speeds the melting process.

Save Money with Solar this Winter
If the meteorologists are right and we are looking at one of the coldest winters on record, you might be expecting to pay more for oil, propane, or natural gas to heat your home. You might also be spending a lot of evenings in the house in front of the TV or computer, raising your electric as well as your heating bills.

Taking action on a solar installation now — before the weather gets really bad and while you can still cash in on 2011 tax credits — could be one of the best ways to keep your household budget manageable in 2012.

Post Written by
A full-time freelance writer, Dawn frequently covers energy efficiency, green living, and topics like LED lighting and whole home control systems for a number of blogs and technology trade magazines. Dawn is proud to live in New York as the state vies to beat out New Jersey as the East coast top dog of solar energy and is waiting for the Solar Renewable Energy Certificate legislation to pass before installing solar panels on her Long Island home.

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