A New Sweeper for the Solar Array

In the winter, one of the most important chores of the homestead is keeping the solar array free of snow (see Solar “Extraction” and Sweeps Season). To do that, I’ve relied for several years on an extendable pole, with a sponge on one side, and a squeegee on the other.

It has served us well. The squeegee has scraped off all but the hardest ice, which I remove (mostly) with a broken extendible car scraper. The sponge worked surprisingly well to shove snow off the glass.

This last winter, this tool developed problems; the extension portion rusted enough to stick, and often froze, needing to thaw in the shower between jobs. The screw-on head has steadily loosened to the point that I’ve needed to tighten it every 2-3 passes on the panels. When the squeegee began to break, risking scraping the panels with the metal frame, I mentioned to Michelle that we needed a new one.

Sweeping the solar array

Mark uses the old sweeper to clear the solar array last December (Photo: Michelle L. Zeiger).

She couldn’t find an exact replacement in town, but what she found instead has turned out to be far better, so far.

She found a 6 foot extendable pole with a threaded end, to which we can attach a plastic brush set in a plastic base, or, with the help of an adapter, a much wider-blade squeegee.

The hard plastic brush head will scrape ice off the panels. If either it or the squeegee wears out, we can switch them out without needing to replace the whole tool.

extendable poles

The new sweep (left) vs. the old one (right) (Photo: Michelle L. Zeiger).

The pole extends to 12 feet, far longer than the old one. It’s stainless steel, so it won’t rust like the other one did. It also tightens much easier after extending than the old one did, something I really appreciate. I can now reach any point on the solar array while standing on the side, meaning I’ll no longer need to climb down to the front of the panels, then struggle to reach the top edge.

sweep's reach

The new sweep reaches the far corner of the array without needing to stand at the front of the panels (Photo: Michelle L. Zeiger).

I’m aware of my steadily advancing age, which will limit my mobility the longer we live here. I appreciate a new tool that allows me to do this job more safely, now and in the future.

Ironically, we haven’t had much snow since Michelle brought this set home. I’m anxious to use it, but haven’t, other than to swipe off a thin skim of slush on a couple of mornings. I’ve not used the squeegee at all yet. I expect we’ll get a few more snows before April or May, so I shouldn’t hope for a chance to fully try out the sweeper, but bide my time instead.

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2 Responses to A New Sweeper for the Solar Array

  1. Aleya says:

    Did you find your pole locally or order one? I am looking for a new pole for our array up here in Fairbanks.

  2. Mark Zeiger says:

    Aleya, we found it locally, at our local Tru Value affiliate, the same place we found our first one. It’s a Premier Internal Twist Stainless Steel Extension Pole.

    If we could find one in Haines, Fairbanks should be easy! Good luck!

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