Locating for ongoing access
Placing your solar energy gathering equipment on your roof, while placing it out of most harm's way as well as away from most shading obstructions will effectively stop you from maintaining your panels, especially in winter. Whether you have Solar Voltaic, PV, or Solar hot water your system will be adversely affected in a substantial way by even a slight covering of snow.
If you have the space and the opportunity, mount your evacuated tube or flat panel solar water energy absorbing panels or photo voltaic panels where you can reach them all year. Removing snow and also washing off excess grime is only possible if your array is rack mounted on the ground. I read somewhere that even a slight film on your headlights can reduce luminosity by 20%. That layer of grime on your collector array can't be much different. If your array mount is adjustable, you will also be able to change the angle of your panels, optimizing the angle to accommodate the seasonal change in the angle of the sun.
Shading affects your solar panel far more than you think! This is because shaded cells consume electricity produced by un-shaded cells. This is why solar panels mostly obscured by snow will frequently melt snow off before snow melts off other surfaces. Here's a link to our PV shading page.
Solar panels are manufactured around the world and accommodate variances in climatic conditions. PV panels lose efficiency as they heat up. Panels manufactured for hot climates use lighter colours and use areas of light colour between cells to help dissipate heat. In northern climates darker colours should be used and panels with lighter areas on their surface should be avoided. Snow and frost sticks to and doesn't melt off the white areas. Snow slipping off the darker areas catches on the frost or unreleased snow and your PV array soon produces next to no output.
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