Solar isn’t just for spots that are warm all year round. It’s rapidly catching on along the East Coast. This is great, but it does pose some problems you won’t find in California, like snow. At PV America last week in Philadelphia, I came across a really neat product that solves any issues with the white stuff.
The calculated snow load of a solar panel is approximately 800 lbs/panel (50 lbs/sf x 16 sf ave. panel). Solar panels (by their nature glass/hard roof surface, no friction) allow built up snow to release in an avalanche manner, with the potential to cause serious injury, damage or even death.
But Alpine SnowGuards and EcoFasten Solar offer a system is designed to clamp to the solar panel frame, does not penetrate or scuff the frame and, more importantly, does not shade the collector surface. The Solar Snow Management system (already being used on panel installations) offers the flexibility of being used as a pad-style, pipe-style or both. For instance, the Solar Snow Pad allows snow and ice to melt and slowly slide off the panel’s surface in a managed fashion, instead of releasing suddenly, like an avalanche. This small but highly-effective device utilizes a “T” nut clamping design that will fit between panels set as close together as 1/8-inch. Moreover, the Solar Snow Pad can be installed with ease during the initial array installation or can be retrofit into an existing system.
Solar Snow Pads add friction to a frictionless surface, allowing snow and ice to melt off the panel in a managed fashion. Snow accumulation on a solar panel will build up against, slump, and then slide off the Solar Snow Pad. Snow will fall from one pad and hit against another pad attached to the array lower on the roof. Solar snow retention cannot be used in areas with over 50 lbs. ground snow load.
Solar Snow Pads are designed to measure 1 ¼” off roof surface to prevent shading. Some shading will occur during the solstice, although not during the hours of collection. Rods cause very little shading making them an add-on option where a greater barrier is needed.
In some cases Solar Snow Pads may not be enough. A “barricade” system may be needed if any snow falling off the roof creates a dangerous situation. (Example: egress)
For optimum snow management, the company recommends choosing a solar snow barricade design. For optimum solar panel function, it recommends a solar snow pad.
For more information visit Alpine Snow Guards at www.alpinesnowguards.com