As winter is fast approaching, you will see some changes in your solar production and monitoring. This is normal and expected! Continue reading to learn about common things that will happen to your solar system during the winter and what you can do about it if you so choose.
What to Expect From Your Solar Array in the Winter
Drop in Energy Production
You will see a large drop in your solar production. While there are many factors to this drop-off, all of them are accounted for when we size your array (Examples: Snow-covered panels, overcast days, shorter days, etc.).
Remember: as little as 5% shading/coverage by snow can bring the panel production down 80%. This is accounted for in your production estimations, so you don’t need to worry.
Changes to Monitoring
Certain errors will appear on your monitoring portal or with your inverter. If panels don’t receive a certain level of sunlight and power or voltage, then the inverter will not detect the low levels of energy coming from the array, and will report the system is offline. Once the snow melts off the panels and the array is receiving direct sunlight, your array should start effectively producing energy!
How to Maximize Your Solar System’s Energy Production During the Winter
Brush Off and Expose the Panels After a Large Snowfall
Solar panels work best when they are cold. So, during the winter you will see a large benefit from removing any snow from the panels to maximize your energy production. The best hourly production you will have all year is when the temperature is at or below zero!
Brushing snow off a ground mount array is fairly straightforward, but rooftop solar is a bit different.
Roof-mounted arrays: You may want to use a roof snow broom/rake to remove the snow. If the roof rake has a metal end, duct tape a towel around it to protect the glass on the solar panels so they don’t get scratched or cracked when removing the snow. There are also telescoping snow brooms available online that auto dealers use to brush snow off cars that won’t scratch your solar panels.
If you are putting effort into clearing snow from the array, be sure that you are removing the snow between the array and the edge of the roof (if applicable.) If you leave snow in that space, there could still be a pile-up of snow that will cause shading on the bottom of the array.
Note: Brushing snow off is not required. The system will be fine without it. Only do this if it is safe to do so.
Familiarize Yourself With the Monitoring Portal
Checking the monitoring portal occasionally throughout the year will help you see if any panel is under-producing for any reason other than a known issue like a tree, chimney, plumbing vents, or another obstruction that causes shade. For example, if something like a small branch with leaves gets blown onto your array, it will be more obvious if you are familiar with its normal production patterns.
If you’re having persisting production issues and your panels are receiving sunshine without any snow covering, reach out to us and we can troubleshoot the error, and if needed, get someone out to your site. Michigan Solar Solutions services most types of solar arrays whether or not they were installed by us.
If you have any questions, please reach out to our Service Department at (248) 923-3456, opt 2 or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Michigan Solar Solutions is a commercial and residential solar installer and electrical contractor that has served the lower peninsula of Michigan since 2007. We have installed thousands of panels and have a happy customer near you, check out what our customers think of us Guild Quality.