User avatar
EVDRIVER
Moderator
Posts: 6401
Joined: Sat Apr 24, 2010 7:51 am

Re: Thoughts on solar in snow country

Tue Dec 28, 2010 9:40 am

Call a professional and get and estimate and recommendation. This is the easiest way to get accurate answers.
Forum Moderator

Carlos
Posts: 201
Joined: Thu Jun 03, 2010 10:50 am
Delivery Date: 31 Mar 2011
Leaf Number: 0872
Location: Phoenix, AZ

Re: Thoughts on solar in snow country

Tue Dec 28, 2010 9:53 am

EVDRIVER wrote:Call a professional and get and estimate and recommendation. This is the easiest way to get accurate answers.


You mean like calling my local Nissan dealer and asking questions about this new Nissan LEAF EV?

Ya that worked well, in the beginning the first dealer told me they wouldnt be available until 2012. Second one said they arent planning to sell or support the LEAF because they do not think they will make any money off the dealer markup.
Third one said, the LEAF? What's that........ :shock:

I think their are more informed people on this forum than all the commissioned based sales experts out in the field.
Get some good ideas, do your own research and then approach the experts with your questions.

just my two cents
Warranty Battery Replacement 09/16/2013. 31055 miles

ERG4ALL
Posts: 603
Joined: Thu Sep 23, 2010 11:17 am
Delivery Date: 10 Mar 2011
Leaf Number: 000404
Location: Phoenix/Show Low AZ

Re: Thoughts on solar in snow country

Tue Dec 28, 2010 10:07 am

We have 34 panels on our roof and we are at an elevation of nearly 7,000 ft., but we are in AZ and our location doesn't get near the amount of snow that you do. However, a few things come to mind. First, the ground mounted, and if possible passive tracking system, may be a first choice except there are a couple of drawbacks. As I'm sure you are aware, you need a fairly large clear area to keep them in sunlight and that may not be possible if you have tall pines in abundance. Also, theft is easier with a ground mounted system.
I've written an article for the Kerr-Cole Center for Sustainable Living that shows how to calculate the appropriate mounting angle for the collectors to fine-tune when you want maximum solar insolation in relation to latitude and roof pitch. There are several other factors that the article mentions when planning a system. Give me (nrg4all@frontier.com) your email address and I'll send it to you. It is a trade off on racking cost versus wind protection but with the formulas in the article you may be able to mount the panels at quite a steep angle which will make snow removal easier and still have excellent insolation value.
Another thought is that there are heat strips that are made for keeping ice out of gutters in the winter. I talked to the company and they are not all that expensive nor use a lot of electricity. With sufficient angle of the panels and the strip mounted at the bottom of each row of collectors you may be able to have the snow slide off easier.
Good luck.
Reserved 4/20/10, Ocean Blue Ordered SL 9/30/10, ESVE Installed 11/22/10, Delivered March 8th, 2011.

User avatar
johnr
Posts: 884
Joined: Sun May 02, 2010 2:08 pm
Delivery Date: 11 May 2011
Leaf Number: 2151
Location: Exeter, CA

Re: Thoughts on solar in snow country

Tue Dec 28, 2010 1:01 pm

The pine cones aren't going to be a problem. Solar modules use tempered glass and can withstand the impact. However they do need direct sunlight, and if you're that close to pine trees you might be getting too much shading. You might contact a local installer to get insolation measurements to see if it's feasible. The winds aren't going to be a problem either - mounting systems are typically rated for 120 mph winds. As for the snow - as long as it doesn't build up too deep, enough sunlight will be able to penetrate it to reach the solar panels which will heat up and melt the snow. If it does get too deep as might happen with a big storm, you can use a pole to scrape off the majority of the snow and the solar panels will melt the remainder. The solar panels should be tilted south at about 40 degrees or so for maximum sun exposure, and this will also help the snow slide off. With the amount of wind you get, though, a small wind system might make a lot of sense. Check out the Skystream - a small wind turbine with built-in net-metering inverter - you can connect it directly to your house wiring and be running your meter backwards just like that, plug-and-play: http://www.skystreamenergy.com/ You might even go with a hybrid system including wind and solar.
My trip to Mineral King and the value of regen

Charging stations, electrical adapters, and portable CHAdeMO quick chargers

2011 upgrade: Fossil < Leaf. 2014 upgrade: Leaf < imiev. 2017 upgrade: imiev < tesla. Done upgrading.

Smidge204
Posts: 940
Joined: Wed Nov 24, 2010 1:42 pm

Re: Thoughts on solar in snow country

Tue Dec 28, 2010 1:45 pm

Trees make wind inefficient to use, since the flow is all choppy after coming through the trees. It's hard for a turbine to extract energy from turbulent flows. Not impossible, of course - some styles might still to pretty well. The "fan" type ones will not work that great with lots of obstructions.

If you want solar, maybe a thin film system is a viable option. Thin film solar has about half the efficiency, but will performs better that crystalline panels in partial shade/light snow covering. Even works a bit on overcast days, and I've heard claims that even a strong moonlight can give some output. You'd need to research mounting options, though, since all the thin film modules I know of are designed to adhere to flat/membrane roofs. And of course you'll need more area to get the same output compared to crystalline.
=Smidge=

User avatar
Electric4Me
Gold Member
Posts: 533
Joined: Tue Apr 20, 2010 7:25 pm
Delivery Date: 08 Apr 2011
Leaf Number: 772
Location: Union City, CA

Re: Thoughts on solar in snow country

Tue Dec 28, 2010 2:33 pm

You guys are all missing the obvious! He needs to hook up a treadmill to a generator and have the squirrels earn their pine cones!! :lol:
Bill Davis
2011 Cayenne Red SL
2014 Toyota RAV4 EV
6.4 kW PV system
Fun in the Leaf! (video)

ERG4ALL
Posts: 603
Joined: Thu Sep 23, 2010 11:17 am
Delivery Date: 10 Mar 2011
Leaf Number: 000404
Location: Phoenix/Show Low AZ

Re: Thoughts on solar in snow country

Wed Dec 29, 2010 9:12 am

Johnr wrote:
Check out the Skystream - a small wind turbine with built-in net-metering inverter - you can connect it directly to your house wiring and be running your meter backwards just like that, plug-and-play: http://www.skystreamenergy.com/

I'd be very careful about any "plug-and-play" set up plugged into house wiring and hence the grid. Although all inverters are required to shut down when they cannot sense power from the grid, there are several lockouts involved to meet code. These guarantee that the utility can physically lock out your system to protect a lineman from getting electrocuted from back-feed current.
Reserved 4/20/10, Ocean Blue Ordered SL 9/30/10, ESVE Installed 11/22/10, Delivered March 8th, 2011.

User avatar
EVDRIVER
Moderator
Posts: 6401
Joined: Sat Apr 24, 2010 7:51 am

Re: Thoughts on solar in snow country

Wed Dec 29, 2010 9:34 am

Carlos wrote:
EVDRIVER wrote:Call a professional and get and estimate and recommendation. This is the easiest way to get accurate answers.


You mean like calling my local Nissan dealer and asking questions about this new Nissan LEAF EV?

Ya that worked well, in the beginning the first dealer told me they wouldnt be available until 2012. Second one said they arent planning to sell or support the LEAF because they do not think they will make any money off the dealer markup.
Third one said, the LEAF? What's that........ :shock:

I think their are more informed people on this forum than all the commissioned based sales experts out in the field.
Get some good ideas, do your own research and then approach the experts with your questions.

just my two cents




Not sure how you compare a car sales person to a trained installer. Installers usually have experience in the design of systems and knowledge of the area. Mine did full CAD drawings, and full 20 page analysis on every aspect and placement option, etc, etc. The processed all my paperwork for rebates and I even received a large additional city rebate as they were part of a city workforce project (only a few were). That is the role of a professional solar installer and why one gets several bids. Car dealers sell many products and the objective is to get the product sold as fast as possible.

Hiring a competent professional helps take the guesswork out and give options one may not have considered. I see people that get advice and "know" what they want on projects and end up making decisions based on advice of non-professionals. In my business we don't fix these issues we start from the beginning and do it right.


WInd is not a good option in most cases as you need very high, constant laminar flow unless you go with less efficient VAWT devices which are expensive. It is extremely windy where I live almost all year as I live at the top of a mountain and it's blowing 20mph now but wind is not a good option. Another situation where a trained professional can help.
Forum Moderator

User avatar
drees
Moderator
Posts: 6219
Joined: Fri Apr 23, 2010 3:51 pm
Location: San Diego

Re: Thoughts on solar in snow country

Wed Dec 29, 2010 10:20 am

ERG4ALL wrote:I'd be very careful about any "plug-and-play" set up plugged into house wiring and hence the grid. Although all inverters are required to shut down when they cannot sense power from the grid, there are several lockouts involved to meet code. These guarantee that the utility can physically lock out your system to protect a lineman from getting electrocuted from back-feed current.

Surprisingly, the physical AC disconnect requirements depends on your local jurisdiction and utility co - typically the utility.

The biggest utility in CA no longer requires an AC disconnect for PV installs, anyway. They trust that the inverters will shut down when the grid goes down as all inverters have been certified to do. I wish more utilities would get on board - it would save a couple hundred bucks off each PV install for a feature that never gets used. The utility can always pull the meter if they really want to make sure a house can't power the grid.

In my system I have 4 different AC OCD devices in line with my PV system plus the physical disconnect. Goes something like this:

18 PV panels -> 18 Micro-inverters -> 2 15A breakers -> subpanel -> 30A rated AC disconnect -> 20A breaker in main panel -> 100A main panel -> meter -> utility.
'11 LEAF SL Powered By 3.24 kW Enphase Solar PV

Yodrak
Posts: 492
Joined: Thu Jun 17, 2010 7:01 am
Delivery Date: 12 Mar 2015
Leaf Number: 402954
Location: St Louis, MO

Re: Thoughts on solar in snow country

Wed Dec 29, 2010 11:01 am

LakeLeaf wrote:The second major issue I have to overcome is that I'd likely have to tilt my solar panels off the roof to get the right angle. We sometimes have 50-70+MPH winds here, so the installation would have to be able to withstand some pretty strong winds. Any suggestions on this?

Yes, you would need a sturdy mounting system, but wouldn't tilt+wind combine to minimize snow accumulation on the panels?
Khun Yodrak
2013 SL

Return to “Environmental Issues”