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snow guards for solar panels

Do you Need Snow Guards for Solar Panels?

Winter weather isn't usually the first thing that comes to people's minds when considering purchasing solar energy systems.

But, if you live in a region where snow is common, installing snow guards on your solar panels can prevent damage to your gutters or roof.

Here in this article, we will discuss why you may need snow guards, how effective solar panels produce solar energy in the snow, and which snow guard types are best to purchase.

Snow Guard: Why do People Use Them?

Firstly yes, Solar panels do function during the cold months and can even function when there is a light layer of snow on them. It's not cold weather that prevents solar panel systems from working; it's when they don't get enough sunlight.

When there is a lot of snow buildup on your solar panels, they won't be able to absorb the sunlight, and therefore, they will not produce electricity.

If you want to remove the snow from your roof, you could climb up there and start brushing it away, but we strongly suggest using the grid for a couple of days instead for your energy generation needs. You could either buy snow guards.

The guard will stand before the snow slide to prevent it from falling all at once. If that’s going to happen, it might break your gutter system, wreck your landscape, hit your car, or land on someone walking by.

Your snow guard helps prevent snow and ice from melting rapidly and falling off your roof. Solar panels are made of glass, smoother than roofs and shingles, so they're ideal for snow to slide off.

For example, asphalt roofs are designed to have some resistance so that anything landing on them doesn't just slide right off. On the other hand, some roofing needs snow shields even if no solar panels are installed. For example, metal roofing has a smooth surface that snow falls off.

Which Snow Guards are The Best?

snow guards for solar panels

You can choose between several brands that manufacture snow guards specifically for solar panels.

Note: Pricing varies depending on the type of roofing material used and local installation fees. You can usually estimate prices between $1.50 and $3.00 per square foot, plus additional charges for local installation.

You can add an Alpine Solar Snow Pad to your solar system. They help break the ice into smaller pieces and allow them to melt faster.

Alpine offers various snow guards, including the ones mentioned above, made from just one piece of metal or small clasps of metal that can be used to attach them between solar panels. You can work with Alpine installers to determine which type is right for you.

Rocky Mountain Snow Guards

If you want extra protection, consider the Rocky Mountain Snow Guards' three-pipe fence.

If you're located in an area with significant snowfall during the winter months, consider installing this 3-pipe fence system. It will help keep the snow from accumulating on your roof.

Do Solar Snow Guards Fit Your Needs?

snow guards for solar panels

Snow guards are worth investing in if you live in an area where it snows frequently. They can help keep your house safe from snow and ice during winter by preventing roof avalanches, and the damage snow can create.

If you live in a sunny climate with no snow, or you don't have a pitched roof, you can skip snow shields.

Another factor to consider is that solar cells are dark, so they help to melt the ice sooner when the sun shines on them. So light layer of snow melts before it accumulates enough to become heavy enough to trigger an avalanche. They can then quickly return to producing solar energy.

Installing snow guards for your solar system is not too expensive so an easy installation can give you peace of mind. You can get an estimate from your solar installer regarding whether you need them based on your rooftop and the weather conditions in your area. Snow guards can be installed anytime after you've bought the panels. 

Either way, an experienced solar panel installation company will give you the answers you need to ensure your home is ready for any storm.

Key Takeaways

  • Snow and wintery weather don't always require installing a snow guard. Heavy accumulations of snow are what makes them necessary.
  • Snow guards keep the snow from accumulating on your solar panels, so they don't get damaged by heavy snowfall. They prevent large avalanches from occurring when heavy snow falls.
  • You can install solar panel snow guards with either a new or existing solar power installation.
  • You should consider buying snow guards if you live in an area that tends to receive frequent, sudden, heavy snowfall that can lead to many inches or feet of accumulated snow in a short period. As long as you rarely get more than some light snow dusting, you can skip them.

About the Author David Roberts

I'm a Mechanical Engineer who's obsessed with solar energy and sustainable living.

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