Solar panels are one of the most durable and reliable energy technologies currently available, and industry efforts mean that they are becoming more resistant to severe weather damage all the time. Installing a home solar energy system ensures that your home can produce its own power, even during severe weather, such as a hurricane. Solar panels provide long-lasting, sustainable, and reliable energy to your home or business.
Like all outdoor equipment, solar panels are prepared to withstand the changing weather. Depending upon where you live, your panels may experience heavy rain, high winds, or even hail and snow. Below we’ll examine how solar panel systems stand up to intense weather conditions, especially hurricanes, and what the solar panel industry is doing to improve the products to ensure the work for you when you need them most.
Have solar panels been tested in hail?
In general, solar panels are durable and hold up very well in inclement weather. A report from the National Renewable Energy Laboratory on 50,000 solar energy systems installed between 2009 and 2013 indicates that only 0.1% of all systems have been reported as damaged or underperforming each year.
Solar panel manufacturers test their products to ensure that they are capable of withstanding hail storms. In most cases, solar panels are tested and certified to withstand hail of up to 25 mm (one inch) falling at approximately 50 miles per hour.
Not long ago, NREL’s main campus in Golden, Colorado was hit with a severe hailstorm. Of over 3,000 panels on or next to the roof of an energy building, only one panel was broken during the storm. To get an idea of the intensity of the storm, the same weather system left shattered car windows and dents in vehicles & home roofs around the Denver area. The single broken panel appeared to have been hit simultaneously with several large hailstones in a very specific location, causing many small cracks across the surface glass. This storm proved that although hail may be an a strong physical force, solar panels are well-equipped to withstand impacts even from large hailstones.
Can solar panels hold up in a hurricane?
With high wind and heavy rain, solar panels may be at risk of being dislodged from their spot or damaged by high volumes of water. However, similar to hail, solar panels are typically tested by manufacturers to ensure that they can survive hurricanes. Most solar panels are certified to withstand winds of up to 2,400 pascals, which is equivalent to approximately 140 mile-per-hour (MPH) winds. Additionally, the typical aluminum and glass casings that hold the solar cells and create a solar panel are highly waterproof, even during extreme rain.
As with hail, real-life weather events have proven solar’s durability in hurricanes. Back in 2017, Hurricane Irma cut the power to about 6.7 million customers across Florida, as well as hundreds of thousands in Georgia, South Carolina and North Carolina. Florida Power & Light said the outages lasted weeks in some areas. However, many homeowners, some businesses, and even cities were able to take advantage of solar power while the grid was down.
What Happens When the Power Goes Out…
If power goes down as a result of the storm, most home solar systems will shut down as well. Most rooftop solar arrays are connected to the grid, so when the public power is off, the rooftop solar power can’t be accessed—unless the customer has a stand-alone inverter or a battery storage system.
There are ways to keep your solar system running in the event of a power outage, and with some planning, it’s possible that you’ll be the only house in your neighborhood with groceries that haven’t gone bad after a storm. Be ready for friendly and hungry neighbors!
If you want to keep your house running when the power goes out, there are a few ways to do it:
- Use a backup generator
- Replace your inverter with a Sunny Boy
- Go full hybrid with backup batteries
Local solar contractors have been using hurricane-induced power outages to experiment with these technologies to run homes and businesses off-grid. Many customers are grid-tied because it’s the cheapest option, but some have batteries that can be used at full capacity when it’s sunny.
And the solar industry has a vested interest in ensuring the installations are engineered well enough that there aren’t widespread problems with panels tearing chunks of roofs off.
Roof-mounted solar systems are arranged within a few inches of the roof, and wind blowing between the panels and the roof can cause a huge amount of what engineers call “uplift.” Those systems are designed to withstand huge amounts of force, with huge bolts that are screwed directly into the roof beams and sealed with extra care.
Did you know that most homeowners’ insurance covers solar panels?
If your solar panel system becomes damaged a hurricane, there is probably no need to worry. Most homeowners’ insurance policies cover solar panels as a structural component of the home (though you may want to adjust your limits to account for the value they represent). It’s a good idea to take photos of your solar system, just like you would your other significant investments in order to create a good inventory for your insurance company if you do experience damage.
Solarimon can save you money while adding a valuable asset to your home or business with financed solar panel arrays.
For residents of the Sunshine State, using the sun to make sustainable energy for your home rather than consuming fossil fuels is an easy way to go green and show that you care about the environment. For business owners, solar installations provide great ROI. They reduce overhead, provide a valuable asset for the company and demonstrate a commitment to sustainability that customers appreciate.
Solarimon’s mission is to help 50% of Florida’s homes be entirely powered by solar energy by 2025. Save the earth. Save money. Increase the value of your home. Will you join us?
At no cost to you and with no out-of-pocket expenses. It’s a simple win-win.