4 Tips for Managing Your Solar PV System During Winter

More businesses and homeowners than ever are turning to solar energy installations. Whether you hope to curb global fossil fuel use, to achieve energy independence, or simply to slash your monthly energy expenditures, the reliability and affordability of SHINE Partners solar energy systems make them the best choice for many commercial properties.

Even so, prospective clients may be concerned about the long-term maintenance and weatherproofing of their solar systems. The concern is understandable – while the price of solar technology has dramatically decreased in recent decades, it’s still a substantial investment for most businesses, and protecting your investment is just good business.

In some areas and weather systems, especially those with harsh winters, customers may be particularly concerned that heavy snowfall, consistent moisture, or extremely low temperatures could harm the output or lifespan of their system.

Fortunately, that doesn’t at all need to be the case. If you can de-ice your car’s windshield, brush the snow off your hood, or shovel it out of your driveway, you can take care of your solar system with ease. Follow these five simple steps to ensure your solar system makes it through this winter – and many winters to come – unscathed.

1. Conserve energy

Cold weather has a complicated relationship with solar power. Believe it or not, the technology behind solar power generation thrives in cold weather. Not unlike your phone, your laptop computer, or your console game system, electrical processes don’t work best when overburdened by heat. Massive computer servers are kept in cold storage for a reason. The McMurdo Station research facility in Antarctica and the International Space Station both run on solar power. It’s safe to assume that your commercial property is unlikely to experience temperatures as cold as these two structures.

That said, cold weather can also come with conditions that could impact your panels’ efficiency, even when properly cared for. Cloudy weather will, of course, cause less light to reach your panels, causing a drop in output. And while you can take steps to mitigate snow buildup (more on that in a moment), you probably can’t stand watch on your rooftop, broom in hand, ready to sweep away every snowflake that falls on your panels.

Your first step, accordingly, is to simply conserve as much energy as you can. Turn off unneeded lights, properly insulate your building, use energy-efficient lightbulbs and appliances, and even consider thermal curtains to insulate windows if you can.

2. Keep your solar panel surfaces clean and clear.

If your commercial property uses a rooftop solar panel, hiring a qualified panel cleaning service may be necessary. Whether you do so or take on the job yourself, do your best to keep your panels clear of debris, snow, and ice, any of which can negatively impact your energy output by blocking visible light.

Solar panels tend to be dark in color to absorb light, so snow and ice may take care of themselves not long after sunrise. Even so, a more manual approach is sometimes needed. For example, use a soft broom or brush to sweep snow off your panel surfaces if you can safely do so.

Ice buildup will require a bit more care. If the temperature outside is already above freezing, spraying your panels with water from a hose can help jumpstart the thawing process until the sun can take over. A leaf blower or air compressor can also be a helpful source of warm, fast-moving air to blow across your panels for the same reason.

3. Maintain your battery system.

Many customers install a backup battery system in conjunction with their energy-generating solar panels. Backup batteries can protect your power supply even when a public power grid is down, and solar energy isn’t generating quickly enough. Still, these battery systems also need to be cared for.

To begin with, your batteries should be installed indoors, or at least in a compartment that is adequately insulated and weather-rated, as some battery types can freeze at extremely low temperatures, and a solar battery bank should be kept dry.

Also, keep an eye on your batteries’ voltage levels. If they fall below a certain mark (the exact level will depend on your model and specific system), they should be recharged again. In other words, don’t run your batteries down to zero if you can help it.

4. Choose a trusted and reputable provider like SHINE Partners.

If you want to make sure your commercial solar power system is ready for winter, however harsh your winter may be, set yourself up for success by choosing SHINE Partners for your project.

SHINE has the experience, technical knowledge and industry connections to provide you with the best possible solar system for your property. Still, we’re small enough that your project will receive our full attention. Our flexibility, responsiveness, and customizability are unmatched in the commercial property solar industry. We’re ready to help you and your business achieve energy independence with financing or leasing options that best fit your needs and budget.

To learn more and find out how to have your property evaluated for a solar system, call us at 800-516-4452 or email info@shine.partners.com.

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