How to remove snow from your solar panels

Over the last 30 years, we’ve installed our solar panels in every climate across the world; they’ve even been used on an expedition across Antarctica.

Here are some answers to our most frequently asked questions about solar panel performance and maintenance during the winter months.

How do solar panels perform in winter?

Since solar panels work with light, not heat, it doesn’t matter how cold it gets outside. In fact, solar panels perform better in cooler temperatures than very hot temperatures.

Since it’s so cloudy in the winter, will my solar panels produce any electricity at all?

Yes. Even when it’s cloudy outside, your solar panels will still produce electricity. As long as there is light, your system will convert it into clean energy. Since the days are a bit shorter, you won’t produce energy for as long as you would during long summer days.

If you choose SunPower® solar panels over other conventional panels, you’ll have a system that is proven to hold efficiency much better in low-light conditions. On cloudy days, light is diffused and scattered in all directions. We use high-quality anti-reflective glass that traps incoming light from all angles, capturing more sun than conventional panels.1

What if it snows?

Your installer will ensure that your solar panels are in the best position to get the maximum amount of sunlight possible; usually, your system will be installed facing the south, west or southwest. Since the panels are smooth, snow doesn’t stick to them like it would to rough roof shingles, so it typically melts or slides away quickly and easily on its own.

What if it snows A LOT?

There are times that the snow may pile up on your roof and solar panels during blizzards. If you need to remove the snow from your roof because you’re concerned about the weight and how long it will take to melt, we highly recommend hiring a professional. Let them know where your panels are located and they can gently remove the bulk of the snow from your panels and your roof.

What about large shifts in temperature between night and day?

Extreme shifts in temperature can wreak havoc on conventional solar cells and panels. A good analogy for what can happen to a solar panel when the temperature shifts is what happens to our roads. When the temperature is above freezing, rain can seep down into the asphalt. When the temperature drops below freezing, the water that seeped into the asphalt freezes and expands, causing cracks and potholes. Conventional panels commonly fail from hot/cold temperature cycles that crack solar cells, solder joints and copper ribbons over time.

SunPower cells and panels are engineered differently. Our solar cells are designed with no metal on the front. The entire back surface is covered with a thick copper foundation plated with tin. Not only does tin-plated copper experience much less corrosion than the silver paste used on conventional panels, it’s also far less likely that the cell will break due to fluctuations in temperature. Where conventional cells crack and fail, SunPower cells keep going. That’s why we offer the only 25-year Power, Product and Service warranty in the industry.

Note: A "Conventional Panel" is a 250 W panel, 15.3% efficient, approx. 1.6 m2, made with Conventional Cells. "Conventional Cells" are silicon cells that have many thin metal lines on the front and 2 or 3 interconnect ribbons soldered along the front and back.

  • 1. BEW Engineering, part of DNV KEMA, SunPower Yield Report, Jan 2013. Compared to a Conventional Panel.