Are you the proud owner of a solar array in a geographical area with winter conditions that include snow and ice? Congrats – you’re contributing to a healthier environment, AND you’re saving money at the same time.
Whether you have a new array or are considering installing one, you should be aware that the accumulation of snow and ice on solar panels could cause a new problematic condition on your roof. The build-up of snow and ice on solar panels has the potential to form an avalanche phenomenon as accumulated snow and ice leave the surface of the solar panel array.
Why would you have this problem? Snow has never fallen off your roof in an avalanche before….
In North America, over 80 % of the roofs installed on residential construction are asphalt composition shingles. If you own a building with this type of roofing material and live in an area with snow and ice conditions, you have probably never experienced a significant roof avalanche. The reason for this is that the granules on the surface on the composition shingles function as friction. Snow and ice accumulations tend to cling to these granules, while melted snow and ice, in the form of running water, works its way out from underneath the accumulated mass as a function of gravitational pull. Many people describe this as “snow melting into the roof.”
However, if your roof surface is hard and smooth, and in the case of solar panels, glass, the melting runoff acts as a lubricant between the panel surface and the accumulated snow mass above. As this happens the panel surface becomes frictionless (no granules to allow water to run off as the mass is held in place) and the entire accumulated snow mass will release and come barreling off the solar panels like an avalanche. We’ve even created a hashtag for this phenomenon: #SolAvalanche
When a roof snow avalanche occurs, gutters are sometimes ripped off, expensive landscaping can be destroyed, cars and other items in driveways and on porches or deck are sometimes damaged, and pets may be in harm’s way – but most importantly it can become a serious hazard to pedestrians.
We manufacture frame-mounted systems that will manage the snow and ice. Systems that have been engineered through years of research to provide a super low-profile. In fact, we’re the originators of solar snow management!
Take a look at your options:
Solar SnowMax – R2
Designed for use on the eave-edge of the array, Solar SnowMax-R2 is the largest fence option, with the fence/bar measuring 2” tall for projects requiring a higher fence on the eaves. The grooved front accepts an optional black insert strip to match the panel frame.
Solar SnowMax – Standard
Our original solar snow management system, which was designed to be installed along the eave-edge of an array, has now shifted to being used for additional, up-slope tiers of snow management. The 1-inch high fence/bar on the Solar SnowMax-Standard is ideal for up-slope installation due to the low-profile, which minimizes shading.
Solar Snow Pads
Like Solar SnowMax-Standard, our Solar Snow Pad was also designed to be used when additional up-slope tires of solar snow management are needed. The unique trait about the Solar Snow Pads is that’ll also accept 3/8” stainless steel rods, which creates a hybrid system in that it can be used as pad-style snow management AND as a pipe-style system if you choose to add the rods.
Determining proper application is easy with our Solar Snow Management Application Guide!
Because the majority of panels don’t generate electricity along the edges, the shading effect is next to nothing. Take a look at our Solar SnowMax Shade Angle Analysis, which was based on factors like roof pitch, geographical latitude, snow load calculations and the overall height of the Solar SnowMax system.
Installers all over the country are already using Solar SnowMax. Shouldn’t you, too? Peace of mind is priceless.
Monitor your solar panels. Watch how snow and ice melts and falls from them. Be mindful of paths, your driveway, your landscaping, your pets, and most importantly, pedestrians.
We would love to hear your observations – let us know YOUR personal experience with snow and ice on solar panels.
Questions? Just email us or give us a call at 888.766.4273 – that’s what we’re here for!
We keep snow in its place
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Alpine SnowGuards designs, engineers, and manufactures snow management systems from our facilities in Morrisville, VT. We work closely with leading roofing contractors, architects, engineering firms, developers, and roofing manufacturers to ensure we deliver quality products that do what we say they’ll do. Alpine SnowGuards can help a building qualify for LEED® credits.