If you have recently installed solar panels for your home, you may be concerned about maintaining them during the winter months, especially if they supply your house with most of or all of its electricity. During this time of the year, you may need to perform a few more simple maintenance tasks that you normally do throughout the other seasons. While keeping the panels clean and clearing away snow and ice, however, make sure you avoid the following mistakes that may damage them.
1. Using Hot Water to Clean Off Cold Panels
After a winter storm, you may have discovered that a thick layer of snow, ice, or a combination of the two is laying on top of the solar panels. Because you want to clear away the wintry precipitation quickly so that the panels can absorb sunlight, you may be tempted to use hot water to melt the ice or snow.
However, if you throw hot water on the cold panels, the rapid change in temperature will most likely crack the glass or even cause them to shatter. If you do manage to keep from breaking the panels, the hot water will freeze quickly in frigid temperatures, creating a thick sheet of ice on the panels that will be even harder to get rid of.
If you have snow on the panels, use a leaf blower to blow it off or use a squeegee with a long handle to physically remove it. If ice has caked the panels, speak with a contractor for their recommendation for a deicer that is safe for solar panels.
2. Throwing Rock Salt on the Panels to Remove Snow
If you do have ice on the panels, you may be tempted to throw rock salt on them to melt it as you do for your sidewalks. However, rock salt is very caustic and could eat away at the panels' glass and cause permanent damage, which would affect their ability to absorb light.
Also, rock salt leaves a heavy residue behind after it melts the snow and ice. This residue would then partially block the solar cells.
Once winter has passed, you should seriously consider having a professional do an inspection to ensure that none of the panels or solar cells were damaged. Contact a solar panel maintenance contractor to set up an appointment to have them inspect the panels for any potential issues as well as perform any required maintenance.