Are you worried about your shiny solar panels when the sky turns gray with hail? It’s true, those ice balls falling from the sky can pack a punch strong enough to worry any solar enthusiast.
Don’t fret though; this post is your guide to understanding hail impact and protecting your valuable energy investment. Keep reading—help is on the way!
Understanding Hail and Its Impact on Solar Panels
When the skies turn ominous and hailstones start their descent, solar panels are put to the test; this frozen peril can spell trouble for your sun-harnessing setup. Let’s delve into how these icy projectiles can affect the efficiency and integrity of your solar energy system.
What is hail?
Hail is frozen rain that falls as balls or lumps of ice. These icy chunks can be small like peas, or big like golf balls. During thunderstorms, strong winds push raindrops up into cold areas in the clouds where they freeze and then start to fall.
If more water freezes onto them before they hit the ground, hailstones get bigger. Hail usually happens in severe weather and comes down fast from the sky.
Solar panels face trouble when hail smashes into them. Panels are built tough and tested by groups like Underwriters’ Laboratories (UL) to handle hail hitting at 50 miles per hour.
But sometimes hail can still break the glass on top of a panel or punch holes in its backside, which lets water in and hurts how well it works.
Why is hail a problem for solar panels?
Hail packs a powerful punch with frozen balls that slam into solar panels. These icy stones can scratch or crack the tough glass that protects the sensitive parts inside. Even small cracks hurt how well solar panels work.
If the protective glass breaks, it’s bad news; sunlight can’t reach the solar cells as it should. This means your panels won’t turn as much sunlight into electricity, and that’s not good for keeping your lights on and devices running.
Solar panel makers try to build them strong enough to handle hail. But sometimes a really big storm comes along with huge hailstones, and even the best panels might get damaged. When this happens, you don’t just lose power; fixing or replacing smashed panels costs a lot of money if they’re out of warranty or your insurance doesn’t cover it all.
Potential Damages Caused by Hail to Solar Equipment
Hail can unleash a barrage of icy projectiles, leaving solar panels vulnerable to harm. This peril subjects the intricate components within these energy harvesters to potential compromises in integrity and efficacy.
Hail causing physical damage to panels
Large hailstones hit hard and fast. They can smash the glass on solar panels. When these ice balls are big, like 3 cm or more across, they often break things. Solar panels have a tough cover but it’s not always enough.
Cracks or deep scratches may appear after bad hailstorms.
These marks on the panels are trouble. Even small breaks let water and dirt sneak in over time. Then, the solar panel can’t make as much power from sunlight. It’s like trying to look through a cracked window; you won’t see clearly, and your solar panel can’t “see” the sun well either.
Hail-reducing solar panel performance
Beyond the dents and cracks that hail can cause, it also hurts how well solar panels work. Hard hail hitting a panel might not break it, but it can still harm small parts inside called cells.
If these cells get damaged, they don’t turn sunlight into electricity as good as before. This means the whole solar panel won’t make as much power. It’s like having a big team where some players are hurt – the team won’t play its best.
Even after a storm is over, little bits of hail or snow left on top of solar panels block sunlight. The sun’s rays can’t reach all parts of the panel this way, lowering how much energy gets made even more.
To keep making clean energy at their best, solar panels need to stay clear and in good shape.
Warranty Limitations and Insurance Costs for Hail Damaged Solar Panels
Solar panel warranties often have limits. They might not include hail damage or they may only cover really bad damage. It’s smart to read and understand your warranty. This way, you know what it does and doesn’t fix if hail hits your solar panels.
Homeowner’s insurance can help with the cost of fixing hail-damaged solar arrays. But, every insurance plan is different. Talk to your insurer about how they handle solar panel claims before you set up your system.
Next, let’s look at ways to keep solar panels safe from hail damage.
How to Protect Your Solar Panels from Hail?
When it comes to safeguarding your solar investment, prepping for hail’s unforgiving impact is essential. Discover effective strategies that shield your panels and ensure they keep harnessing the sun’s power, even when the skies turn hostile.
Choosing panels with high hail resistance rating
Look for solar panels that can stand up to hail. Some panels have a strong cover on top made of tempered glass. This type of glass is tough and can handle hail hitting it at fast speeds, like 50 miles per hour! Monocrystalline and polycrystalline solar panels are often able to resist hailstones as big as an inch across.
Make sure the solar panel you pick has a good rating for facing off against hail. The International Electrotechnical Commission (IEC) gives ratings to show which panels are best at dealing with extreme weather.
Check these ratings before you buy your panels, so you know they’re ready for anything Mother Nature throws their way.
Utilizing temporary protective covers
Even with high hail resistance ratings, solar panels can still face risks during severe storms. Temporary protective covers offer extra safety for these times. You can cover your solar panels with tarps, blankets, or special tents when you hear a hail storm is coming.
This layer acts like a shield and keeps the panels safe.
Hard shells or padded covers work great for solar panels on the ground. They’re tough and can take hits from falling hail stones without breaking. For rooftop systems that are hard to reach, setting up protection before the storm season is smart.
If your solar system is portable, moving it inside gives the best defense against damage from hail storms.
Aligning panels at optimal angles
Putting your solar panels at just the right angle is key. It lets them catch more sunlight and helps keep hail from hitting them straight on. The best angle for your panels is usually the same as where you live’s latitude.
So if you live at a place that has a latitude of 30 degrees, setting your panels to tilt at 30 degrees is often perfect. This makes sure they get lots of sun all year long.
Making the tilt steeper can be smart where hail storms are common. A sharp angle means hail will likely bounce off instead of smack into the panels. You’ll want an expert installer to take care of this so it’s done right.
They know how to set up your solar power system so it works great and stands strong against rough weather, like big hailstorms.
Regular inspection of panels
Checking your solar panels often is smart. Look for any signs of damage after hail hits. Quick fixes can stop bigger problems later on. The test makers do show that panels can take up to a one-inch hailstone flying at 50 mph, but it’s still good to keep an eye on them.
Make sure everything looks right with your solar PV system. Small cracks or dents might not be easy to see right away, so inspecting the panels up close can help find issues early.
This helps the solar power plant keep making electricity without trouble.
Solar panels are tough, but big hail can still hurt them. If you live where hail hits often, think about getting strong panels and telling your insurance. Remember to look after your solar gear before storms come.
Hail doesn’t have to be a big worry with the right steps!
While protecting your solar panels from hail is crucial, understanding all aspects of their operation is just as important; learn more about whether solar lights need batteries on our dedicated page.
2. What is an IP68 rating on solar panels?
An IP68 rating means the solar panel is very good at keeping out dust and water, even during bad weather like storms.
3. Will my warranty cover hail damage to my rooftop solar system?
Most solar panel warranties do cover damages from things like hail, but you should check with your manufacturer to be sure.
4. Should I watch weather reports for my photovoltaic panels?
Yes, it’s smart to watch weather reports so you know if a storm could possibly harm your photovoltaic system.
5. Does homeowners’ insurance protect against damaged PV modules from hail?
Many times, homeowners’ insurance will help pay for repairs if your PV modules get hurt by bad weather like hail.
6. Are thin film or polycrystalline cells better for places with lots of hail?
Thin film cells are often tougher and may last longer in places where there’s lots of rough weather including big hailstones.