Solar Panels and Frost - How Well Do Solar System Handle Freezing Conditions

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Living in Sweden has its moments.  But when the weather gets too much I escape to sunnier places such as Southern Europe and back down to Australia.  
However, over the years, I've become much more ware of  how to live with what you have in terms of your environment.

Something I'm often amazed about is where solar power is used.  Ive seen solar arrays producing electricity even cloudy  Berlin.  While solar panels do need quality light to operate most efficiently, they still produce power and over the year, there is a cost benefit.  But for most people, anything that cuts down the quality of light, results in a fall in their output power.  I can appreciate how any solar panel owner gets grumpy when they see their system isn't producing full power. If you have invested in a grid tied system, low power means lost dollars. After all, with an expensive system, a 10% drop in productivity over time can add up to a lot of money. So, with that kind of expense, it is not surprising that people consider a DIY solar panel project.

Apart from clouds, dust, leaves and snow, normally they are so reliable,you have little to worry about.  However, I was recently visiting a friend, it was a really cold night and some fog was clearing from the early morning sky.  I arrived just in time for a hot coffee, but my solar friend was not his chirpy self.  There had been a "freezing fog" and while the trees were covered in the stark beauty of hoarfrost - so was his solar panels.  This is not usually a problem, solar panels can stand up to the cold, and when there is good light, they actually operate more efficiently.  So, with some antifreeze and his trusty ice scraper, the panels were really to face the day.

But snow is a different animal to frost.  Snow does not usually adhere to the panel and tends to slide straight off and as they start working, the heat they build up melts off any snow left behind.  But in moist air and freezing conditions, frost can be persistent.  As it happens, within an hour, the sun was up and between the antifreeze and sunshine, the frost melted away.  

If you live in a frost zone and are considering a DIY solar panel system, make sure your construction can handle freezing and that it is properly waterproof. Maybe its also worth getting some antifreeze to spray on the panels to melt any hoarfrost rather than scraping and scratching the surface.   If you live in the suburbs and have a grid-tied system, get yourself a snow rake or a nice soft squeezy window wiper and a long handle so as not to risk damaging your expensive panels. Otherwise, if you are out on the farm, scrape 'em off, keep the leaves clear and take some time to enjoy the countryside.
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