Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Solar panels, snow and dust

I've been thinking of solar panels for a while now and now I'm getting a little turned off on them. I had read that dust and bird droppings on the panels can decrease the output of these panels and with all the snow we've been getting I wondered how they performed in the winter. Turns out - not so good according to CNET.

In general, solar photovoltaic panels don't need a whole lot of maintenance as there are no moving parts. They usually have warranties good for 20 or 25 years. Cleaning off built-up dust and pollen in the spring or summer is a good idea because that film cuts out a little bit of light from hitting panels, reducing the amount of electricity they make.

But snow is a completely different story. A thick blanket of snow--and we've seen many of those this winter--can all but eliminate electricity production. Sure, some light can penetrate through but the panels produce just a fraction compared to their potential.

Solution? Gotta get a roof rake.

1 comment:

CrisisMaven said...

There is a general misconseption about PHOTOVOLTAIC solar panels, i.e. those generating electricity. They're a waste of money and resources! They have dismal efficiency, never mind the reservations you just added in your post. The way to go is using solar energy on roofs solely for heating water, which works even in winter or under a clouded sky. I will in the near future post some facts in my "Economic Fallacy" column. Meanwhile, have a look at the small contribution electricity consumption has within overall energy use in myReference List and how much smaller even unreliable electricity generation from solar panels must be!