Can Snow and Ice Damage Rooftop Solar Panels?

If you’re experiencing your first winter with solar panels or are having a particularly harsh season, you may be worried about how your solar installation will fare. Rest assured that while snow and ice reduce solar efficiency in the winter compared to the summer, your rooftop solar array should be able to handle anything Mother Nature throws at it—provided the panels are high quality and installed correctly.

Can Snow and Ice Damage Rooftop Solar Panels?

The Effects of Snow and Ice on Solar Panels

  • Loss of electricity generation: Solar panels work by absorbing sunlight and converting it into electricity. When snow or ice covers the panels, it blocks the sunlight and reduces the amount of electricity produced. In severe cases, heavy snow or thick ice cover can completely shut down the solar array.
  • Water expansion in the solar panels: If water enters the creases and crevices of a solar panel, it can freeze and expand, causing damage. This may lead to cracking and other defects that impair your solar panels’ overall performance.
  • Ice dams: As snow on the roof melts and runs down to the gutters, it can freeze at the eaves and create a blockage that prevents water from draining properly. This is especially common when the gutters are clogged. Ice dams cause water to pool on the roof and seep under the shingles, causing water damage and eventual mold growth in the attic. Ice dams also make snow and ice take longer to melt off your solar panels, reducing their performance.

How to Remove Snow and Ice From Solar Panels

  • Use a roof rake: A roof rake is a long-handled tool for removing snow from your roof and solar panels. Select a roof rake designed for this purpose to avoid damaging the panels.
  • Apply warm water: Warm water can melt snow and ice on your solar panels, but the water shouldn’t be too hot, or the rapid temperature change could crack the glass. If you try this technique, wait for a warm day so the water doesn’t freeze.
  • Use a broom: You can gently sweep snow off your solar panels with a soft-bristled push broom. Make sure no rocks and other debris are caught in the bristles, or you could accidentally scratch the panels.
  • Don’t remove the snow: In most cases, it’s actually best to leave the snow as is. After all, snow removal can be dangerous, especially if you have a steep roof. If the snow is light and fluffy, it should melt and slide off the panels within a few days. Considering these factors, snow removal is typically only necessary after record snowfall.

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If you’re ready to harness solar energy to reduce your carbon footprint and lower your electricity bills, reach out to Infinity Energy. Our experienced solar installers can provide a customized solution for your energy needs and budget. We’ve already helped over 7,500 homeowners in New Jersey, New York, and Connecticut switch to solar, and you could be next! Check out our solar calculator to see how much you can save. Then, contact us for a quote.