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Get More Energy from your Solar in the Winter

By N. R. Mallery

So, you’ve invested in a solar system. Why? To be able to produce clean renewable energy, save on your energy bills, personal energy independence, and you might even have considered the future of the planet in your mix of reasons.

Here comes winter, with snow and ice now covering our solar panels. There goes your energy production — until the wind and sunshine come along, eventually melting the snow or blowing it off — if you’re lucky.

Cleaning off snow from ground-mounted solar panels (PV) with the SnoPro Brum.

Cleaning off snow from ground-mounted solar panels (PV) with the SnoPro Brum.

Waiting for Mother Nature’s help doesn’t always work. Is there another option?

My own manually adjustable racking system takes 10 to 15 minutes to change the angles of all three pole-mounted racks. Since the goal is to produce as much energy as possible from the resulting solar gain, we adjust the racks to accommodate for the winter angle of the sun. It also encourages the snow to slide off. But, most often, the snow still sticks.

I am off-grid, very aware of and reliant on how much energy the solar system produces. When the snow stops, you can bet that I am out there clearing the snow off of the solar panels.

In the past I retrofitted a foam broom that only came with a pole long enough to clear a vehicle off. We replaced it with a longer wooden pole, but it was still a struggle to reach the very top of all the solar panels. Though that setup worked ok, it was definitely limited.

I recently discovered a better solution that I recommend to anyone who has invested in solar: the Snowpro Brum from RoofRake.com. It is manufactured in the USA and is made for cleaning off solar panels! The durable polyethylene foam is rugged enough to tackle snow and soft enough to not harm your solar panels or roof. The dark part of the foam head is softer foam and under that is denser foam with a hard red plastic center into which the telescoping pole is threaded.

The lightweight telescoping pole reaches to a manageable 24-foot length. Now I can also reach the solar hot water panels on my roof, too! The company does offer a German-made pole that reaches up to 30 feet. Those Germans and their solar do it again!

Cleaning off roof-mounted Solar Hot Water Panels with pole extended.

Cleaning off roof-mounted Solar Hot Water Panels with pole extended.

There are more attachments available such as an angle adapter that could be used when additional down-force is necessary or to raise the bar up from the head on a shallow pitch roof or system. The same pole can also accommodate a roof rake attachment, squeegee and even one to help you put up those LED lights on tall Christmas trees.

The instructions for using the Snowpro Brum suggest that you move the snow off the solar panels rather than pulling it all down. Because the pole threads into the center of the head you can both push or pull snow off.

We all want to produce as much power from our solar investment as possible. Isn’t it a good idea to take the time to remove the snow and accomplish just that? I personally think it is well worth the little bit of inconvenience. While there are some installations that are not set up for snow removal, most solar-powered homeowners and businesses in the northern part of the USA might want to consider its value. You can find the Snowpro Brum at roofrake.com or 734-560-7153.

 

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