Snow Guards for Solar Panels

As you’re aware, I’ve retired from the world of solar panel racking. As you may not be aware, Alpine SnowGuards manufactures the only snow retention system for solar arrays. Yes, we make a product that keeps snow and ice from sliding off the roof from solar panels in the form of a sudden avalanche. Why, you ask? Let me tell you, this is a much more profound issue than most people can possibly imagine.

Note: since the time of this writing, Alpine has innovated new products into our solar snow management system including the Solar Snow Dog. The Snow Dog is a 6″ pad-style developed in response to customer demand for a more extended version.

Rooftop Solar Arrays on Residential Projects

The lion’s share of rooftop solar arrays on residential projects in the United States are being installed/retrofit over existing roofing. Approximately 80% of these projects are installs on composition shingled steep-slope roofs (3:12 pitch or greater). The remaining 20% are installs on concrete tiles. Both of these roofing materials have a rough texture known to create friction which helps retain snow loads.

Snow & Ice Avalanche off Solar Arrays

Then you have a wonderful, renewable energy solar array installed over your existing “rough texture roof” and BOOM! As a result, snow and ice now slide right off the roof – or to be accurate, right off the solar array – like an avalanche.

I’ve heard people describe the sound of a sudden release/avalanche of snow and ice like a freight train. Wow! Who knew? Solar integrators didn’t anticipate this issue initially. However, after 15+ years of a booming solar market, the fact is that the majority of installers have likely faced this dilemma before.

This issue is significant, sudden and dangerous.

Know the Pros and Cons

So, why are some installers not making homeowners aware of this issue? Best guess: It adds cost that could potentially price them out of a job if the competition isn’t including it in their quote. Yeah, like the old saying goes, “what the buyer doesn’t know won’t hurt them.” In the case of snow and ice avalanching off a solar array, nothing could be further from the truth.

BUYER BEWARE: Work with contractors and integrators who inform you of both the pros and the cons of significant roof changes.

Alpine SnowGuards has designed and engineered a snow retention solution for every roof type including solar panel installations. Be advised: snow guards are available in two basic types; pad-style and pipe-style. Pad-style snow guards act as a deterrent, helping to manage snow release, while pipe-style snow guards are more of a barricade that holds snow in place. Both styles help provide different degrees of protection.

Call Us to Discuss Snow Guards for Solar Panels

If you would like more information, read through some of our past blogs about snow guard theory – or feel free to give Alpine a call to discuss your options: 877-479-9765.

At a minimum, know that with emerging technologies and changes in the roofing industry, new solutions can be beneficial; they can also cause unforeseen issues. That’s the way things are, and the best we can all do is design new solutions to mitigate any issues that may arise.

What never seems to change is the amount of detail sales people share when they’re trying to win a job. The system and technology are only as good as the people who install it. There are MANY great installers out there – do your homework, ask questions and ask to see photos of prior installs.

Doing the job isn’t the same as doing the job correctly.

Solar SnowMax-Standard installed on upslope tiers of a residential PV array. Image from Namasté Solar.

We’ve Done the Research

Alpine manufactured a handful of solar snow management options, including Solar SnowMax-R2 (for install on eave-edge of array), Solar SnowMax-Standard and Solar Snow Pad for installation on upslope tiers. These solutions are being utilized across North America as homeowners, business owners and building owners alike have discovered how to manage the avalanche of snow and ice from their solar array.

Note: since the time of this writing, Alpine has innovated new products into our solar snow management system including the Solar Snow Dog. The Snow Dog is a 6″ pad-style developed in response to customer demand for a more extended version.

I hope this information is helpful – my main goal is to get as much information out there as possible, in regards to rooftop snow retention. There’s a LOT to share. I hope you’ll stick around for the ride.

Until next time,

Brian Stearns

President & Founder, Alpine SnowGuards

We keep snow in its place


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Alpine SnowGuards designs, engineers, and manufactures snow management systems from our facilities in Morrisville, VT. We work closely with leading roofing contractors, engineering firms, developers, and roofing manufacturers to ensure we deliver quality products that do what we say they’ll do. Alpine SnowGuards can help a building qualify for LEED® credits.