Snow on roof but not on panels
Solar Investment Tax Credit

I’ve got snow on solar panels…

Most of us are thrilled with the snow that’s fallen across our beloved Vermont. Yet we’ve heard questions from some solar homeowners about the effect of snow on their systems. What should you do about snow on solar panels in Vermont?

Should I remove snow from my solar panels?

No. We recommend against getting up on your roof to wrestle snow off your panels. The panels are dark and gather enough sun to eventually melt the snow, which will slide off the slick glass surface. Swinging a rake or shovel up there could harm a panel or catch on a roof-mount. And of course the 25-year panel warranty doesn’t cover damage caused by the homeowner. Plus, getting up on a snowy roof would risk your getting hurt, which nobody wants.

But aren’t my solar panels supposed to be making electricity?

Between the scant sunlight during our short winter days and the occasional snowfall, Vermont’s cold months don’t yield much electricity compared to the power that pours off your roof from the bright summer sun. So no, when you have snow on solar panels, we don’t expect the panels to be producing. Remember that the way net-metering works is that you store up credits for the power you make and then draw them down when the sun isn’t shining. When SunCommon’s engineering team designed your system and determined how much electricity it will produce, we factored in the amount of sunlight Vermont homes receive over the course of a year and took account of snowfall. Not to worry if you have snow on solar panels, you’ll catch up when the sun again shines brightly.

Well, what if I want to squeeze all the electricity out of my solar panels that I can?

You’re of course free to knock yourself out. But for all the effort and danger of clearing off your solar panels a few days before Mother Nature would do the work for you, they’d generate the equivalent of only a partial day of summertime electricity production. Again, your system was designed with our winter darkness and snow cover in mind.

Is it true the solar panels produces more efficient electricity on clear, snowless winter days? And why?

Yes. Solar panels do produce better at cooler temperatures! Hot, hot heat is hard on electronics in the summer, so the winter months provide more efficient energy production. Even with that fun fact though, the shorter days, snowfall, and less direct sunlight are real factors in determining winter PV potential in Vermont. We calculate year-round production so that you can count on your over-production during the long, summer days helping carry you through the winter. This is thanks to our ability to net meter with the utility companies!

How does solar work?

So, what is net metering? I thought it was too cloudy in Vermont to have solar panels? Do I still pay a utility bill? The basics of solar are relatively simple. We’re here to help. Find out how solar works by clicking below.

The first winter with our new solar panels, I went out after every snow storm and meticulously cleaned off our panels. It was so exciting to have them! But after the first month, I lost steam and didn’t get around to it. At that point I realized that the difference in electricity production was just really minimal.  So, I haven't bothered since.
Gaye SymingtonResidential Solar

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