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Solar and Snow – No Shovel Needed!

Posted on: December 12, 2013

It’s almost winter in and you know what that means: cold temperatures, gusty winds and plentiful snow. And while those conditions are great for skiing, sledding and snowball fights, how do they work for generating solar energy? The answer might surprise you. While it’s true that solar systems do not generate energy during storms that block out the sun completely, solar PV (photovoltaic) systems can be quite efficient during the winter months.

First, it’s important to remember that the output for your system is calculated on an annual basis, and already accounts for stormy periods (which can happen throughout the year, not just during winter) and short daylight hours during the winter months. So those storms that cause variations in output have already been accounted for in the design of the system.

Second, solar panels, like most electronics, work best in cooler temperatures. The output of solar panels goes down slightly in very hot weather.

Third, Mother Nature helps out when snow accumulates enough to blanket the panels. Snow on roofs with solar panels actually melts faster than snow on roofs without solar panels because of the reflection. The sun naturally reflects on the solar panel and then onto the snow-covered roof. It’s the same reason skiers can get bad sunburn on sunny winter days.

Fourth, melting snow is a natural panel cleaner, removing the layers of pollen, dust, bird droppings and leaf debris that accumulated during the fall. When it snows a significant amount, it’s tempting to go up on the roof to try to clear off the panels, but should you? Removing snow can help aid production if there are several storms in a short period. The panels do emit heat, allowing the snow to start to melt and slide off, but generally Mother Nature will take care of the melt for you, saving a trip to a potentially slippery roof.

Lastly, the structure of the roof has been reviewed as part of our initial design to account for “snow” load before the project is permitted to proceed by the local building department. We also work an ‘avalanche zone’ in to our design, leaving roof space below the panels for the snow to slide down then melt off slower.

If you or a friend or a neighbor have solar, take a look this winter – chances are good that the first part of their roof to clear will be their solar panels!

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  • Matt Wantagh

    Sail and Bruce were awesome, making 5 visits to our home. We wanted to go with a local company instead of one of the big companies. We have not been disappointed with our choice. I highly recommend Energy By Choice! Tell them Matt sent you!

  • Ralph Smithtown

    We are extremely happy with our experience with Energy By Choice. The entire process went smoothly. No pressure sales. Went over all the options. Great customer service. Great installation. Couldn’t be happier!

  • Joe West Babylon

    Great Installation, Great Company, Great People. This is the first time I’ve ever dealt with a contractor and the estimate was exactly the same as the proposal !!!. No out of pocket expense. By the way I interviewed 8 companies. Energy by Choice was a pleasure to deal with. No buying pressure. My solar has been installed for 16 months. My electric bill was $350 a month. My connection charges average $12 a month. I’m saving $338 a month!

  • Mike Bethpage

    Very professional. They helped set up the financing, the permits and gave me the system that I wanted. After all the incentives I paid $16,000, but my bill is still over $100 cheaper than my budget payment. They also follow up with suggestions on how to get the most from your system. Sail’s the best.

  • Kyle Smithtown

    Great company, a pleasure to deal with. Low pressure and high quality.

  • Jennifer East Northport

    We had a wonderful experience with Energy by Choice. They were professional, clean, and extremely honest. Speaking from experience, we researched solar for months and I highly recommend this company. Thank you for everything Sail and team!

  • Laura Huntington

    Sail thank you so much for addressing my concerns so promptly and so completely. I have to tell you that the more my husband and I deal with your company, the more confident we are that we made the right decision in choosing you as our solar company and look forward to working with you.

  • Judy Mineola

    Helpful, honest; enjoyed the experience of the office personnel, (no pressure) from initial phone inquiry to certificate of completion. Getting better than half the cost returned from the State & Federal Gov. helped even more. Only thing left is to reap the rewards of the investment of our home & future. I would recommend Energy By Choice as a preference over the other companies who tried to push & sell their products to us.

  • Mary Massapequa Park

    All staff were very professional, friendly and knowledgeable. Sail is enthusiastic and passionate about the product. I didn’t feel pressured, but I was also given a very complete evaluation and comprehensive plan for the project. Since completion of the project, the company has continued to stay in touch. I feel like a member of a club.

  • Arlene Commack

    We met with Sail and he answered all of our questions and concerns. Sail put together a proposal that was perfect for our home and we’re so glad we had his expertise and knowledge to work from. We interviewed another national solar company who was offering a plan that would not have met our needs and would have been a financial disaster for us. Thanks again to Sail and his team of experts. We love our solar panels and, even more so, we love watching the meter run backwards!

  • Matt Wantagh

    We finally did it! We signed up for a new solar energy system with Energy By Choice. Bruce Howard and Sail Van Nostrand (the sales rep and owner) were terrific to deal with, and I would highly recommend to anyone thinking about converting to solar power!

  • Mike Mazol

    I just had my Solar Panel System installed this week. From the start of the process with Sail, and Steve and his crew at the end, it was totally professional. Steve and his team worked in a clean and safe manner and were definitely one of the best contractor teams I’ve had the pleasure to work with. At times you wouldn’t even know they were here doing the system. If you are thinking about getting Solar Power, I would highly recommend using Energy By Choice as the company to do the work.

  • Ernie Calverton

    I have been extremely happy with the service I received from this company and the way they treated me from the first call. They were incredibly patient, professional, and prompt from the start. The installation took one day, and when I got home the area had been cleaned up and looked good, and the system has been working incredibly well since then, with no problems whatsoever. I would recommend them to anyone.

  • Sue New Hyde Park

    Energy By Choice installed my solar several years ago and have yet to pay more than the mandatory few cents a day service fee by the electric company. While I have had no problems with my system, I have had questions and Sail Van Nostrand is always attentive to me and responds to my inquiries quickly and professionally. I whole heartedly recommend Energy By Choice to anyone looking for a solar contractor.

  • Joe West Babylon

    I couldn’t be more pleased with my experience with Energy By Choice. Sail and his entire staff are professional and compassionate about what they do. They want their customer to be well informed and happy from start to finish…Give them a call…You will NOT be disappointed!

  • Rich Port Jefferson Station.

    Your patience with me and your level of detail in explaining the job to me before, during and after the job was above and beyond the words thorough and professional.

  • Anthony Mattituck

    We were certainly impressed with your attention to detail from your initial presentation and throughout the system installation. Your service and product knowledge has proven to be second to none.

  • Mike Long Beach

    [Sail] designed and installed the right system for our home. His crew was eager to be part of the amazing “revolution

  • Jerry Baiting Hollow

    From the start your approach was professional, and every step of the way you clearly and accurately represented the parameters of the project. The only surprises that we had were positive ones: the neatness of the work was exceptional and the effect of the solar cells on our electric bill exceeded our expectations.

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