The effects of hail on solar panels can be devastating. If you live in an area with a lot of hailstorms or extreme weather conditions, you will want to make sure that your solar panels are protected.
In this article, we will discuss how to protect solar panels from hail and what the best options for solar panel protection are.
Hail can definitely cause damage to your solar panels and depending on the severity of the storm it may partially destroy them. The effects will vary from micro-cracks that need replacing at worst, to compromised wiring.
A typical set up like an Eco-worthy solar panel can withstand up to 25mm of hail that has a falling rate of 23 meters a second (or 50 miles per hour). The hailstone has to hit the panel with a force of around 8000 kN/m² (or 34000 pounds per square inch) in order for it to cause any significant damage.
Even after severe weather like a hailstorm, it is unlikely to see any significant damage as most solar panel systems are manufactured to withstand any impacts (including large hailstones).
Reputable solar panel manufacturers make products to high standards so they provide a reliable energy source whatever the climate conditions are like where you live. They do not want to make PV modules that will break as soon as the winds get high!
So, rest assured as your solar panel systems are extremely durable and will continue to work throughout all weather conditions, including in the winter. Once the hail storms have passed your PV system will function as normal.
To put it simply, not very often!
In May of 2017 – an intense hail storm hit the Denver area causing damage to roofs, cars, and windows.
The national renewable energy laboratory in Colorado, home to over 3,000 solar panels, was particularly hit hard with employees finding dents and damage to their car windows from ice balls the size of a golf ball.
Incredibly, upon inspection, researchers discovered that only 1 out of 3,168 solar panels had sustained any damage. That is a strong solar energy system!
Here are our top six ways how to protect solar panels from hail, and how to prevent your solar panels from being damaged by extreme weather events and hail storms:
• Be prepared with up-to-date weather reports
• Regularly check your solar panels
• Have the correct angle and location
• Use a coating or protective barrier
• Know what your insurance covers
• Repair, rather than replacing!
Stay up-to-date with all of the latest weather forecasts by checking the National Weather Service, your local forecast station, and your forecasting apps. This way you can know whether there is a risk for hail so that you are always prepared!
Turn on all notifications for weather reports, to be extra prepared!
So, you just invested in a nice 2300-watt solar setup. Can you set it and forget it? NO! You should regularly check your solar panels, and schedule a technician to visit to inspect them at least once a year. This will help ensure they are in good condition and that any hail damage is repaired before it becomes a larger issue.
Keep your solar panels as clean as possible, as they are susceptible to debris and dirt that may have accumulated on them over time. This will reduce the efficiency of your solar panels so it is important to regularly clean them off as much as possible.
Make sure your solar panels have enough elevation or tilt to be able to escape hailstorms or angle them to allow any hail to move and slide off the roof panels.
Make sure you know what direction should solar panels face to ensure they are positioned in a way that will allow them to receive as much sunlight as possible, and not be shaded by anything such as trees or buildings.
By using a coating such as Methacrylate a protective barrier will be created on the surface of the solar panels, which will prevent any damage.
Plexiglass is another alternative solution for extra protection on your solar panels, as it can be shaped and molded to create an impact-resistant barrier against hail or debris.
Both materials will allow sunlight to pass through for the solar panel to continue creating renewable energy.
A protective cover or sheet may also be used to protect any solar panels, which you can make yourself using tarps or what is readily available. Or, you can purchase solar panel protection kits from your solar provider.
It is important to know if your home/buildings insurance covers the cost of any damage caused to your solar panels through weather conditions like hail.
This can be found in your insurance policy!
If hail damages solar panels on a house with an existing warranty and you do not have home insurance; this would be covered up until the end of that warranty period.
Damage to your solar system after a hail storm will be mostly minimal, therefore repairing rather than replacing is a great option and will save you money. Especially as replacement costs can be high!
A simple crack in your solar panel will not need immediate replacing as the solar energy will be just as efficient and should not affect the power output.
Repairs should be considered if significant water and dirt start to build up causing issues to the productivity of the PV system and solar cells. Both waterproof resin and a laminating film can be used for repairs.
Most areas of the United States experience severe weather at some point, with some states seeing annual hurricanes and others being prone to regular high winds, etc.
So your zip code is important here! If you live in an area with extreme weather and frequent hailstorms, then it would be best to take the necessary precautions to install solar panels on your home that are more resistant and durable from hail impacts! This can include choosing polycrystalline or monocrystalline modules instead of amorphous silicon.
Solar panels are designed to be able to withstand extreme weather conditions, including hailstones. The solar industry has created testing and certifications to ensure that the solar energy is of a quality standard, so you know what your investment will yield for years to come!
The panels have features such as micro-lenticules, anti-reflective and antiglare coatings which also help to protect the panels.
Most importantly, when searching for the appropriate solar panels for your home ensure the warranty has specific coverage for damaged caused by hail.
Ultimately, this depends on what your insurance covers. If you have a policy for your home, then this should cover anything that is in your residence up until the end of your warranty period.
Though different insurers have different rules!
If not, it would be a good idea to consider some solar panel hail protection! Hopefully, by now you know how serious hail can be for your system and want to make sure any damage from storms is repaired quickly.
We suggest reporting any damage to your insurance company as soon as possible, and avoid using any machinery that is suspected to be damaged.
If your solar panel has already been significantly damaged, then you will want to have them repaired immediately. If it is a large chunk of your system, this could take up to twenty-four hours or even longer depending on the severity and location in which they are damaged.
If you are unsure whether a hail storm has damaged your solar energy systems, it is important to first check your inverter, as it is likely any evidence of damaged panels will be discovered here. If an issue has been detected, contact your solar panel installer to investigate.
Evidence of damages should be observed and gathered from a safe distance, and it is advised that you do not climb on top of your roof to inspect the panels as the hail damage may have caused a voltage leak.
Solar energy systems can be very dangerous when they are not working properly. The damage could cause a massive fire or electric shock if you get too close, so it is important that only trained technicians handle the problem and do not let anyone else touch them.
So, once your solar energy systems have reached the end of their useful PV lifespan, it is important to dispose of them in an environmentally safe way.
You can read our detailed article to learn further about why recycling solar panels are vital for the future of renewable energy.