Keeping solar panels snow-free has been a costly and inefficient proposition—until now.
Materials and engineering scientists at the University of Toledo have developed an ingenious solution that is winning awards and satisfying the demand of 150 solar plant operators in their latest pilot tests.
The product is a novel strip that is applied to only the lower edge of the panel, which causes the melting of the snow without interfering with the absorption of sunlight.
In a video demonstrating Snow-Free Solar, the Ohio innovators say the easy-to-apply strip "does not cause any partial shading or hot spots on the panel and does not invalidate module warranty." It can, in fact, improve the life expectancy of the panels.
The flexible strip doesn't require any energy to operate and the coatings are "extremely durable, strongly adhering to the PV."
"There is no need for power—it is passive," says Hossein Sojoudi, the Associate Professor and Technical Advisor who founded Snow-Free Solar. "You apply it to the lower bottom and it works from there."
Super easy to install, the job can be done by unskilled labor with no training.
The company isn't providing technical specs because of ongoing competition in the field, but, so far, "no known failure mode (has) yet to be identified" over several winters of rigorous durability tests conducted by a solar photovoltaic testing laboratory.
"We also showed that our strip coatings are durable during regular cleaning of solar panels.