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How to Protect Your Solar Panels from Weather Damage


Damaged solar panels
Source: The Tribune

Don't let their sleek appearance deceive you; solar panels are tougher than they look! They're built to stand strong against the fiercest storms. Take, for instance, a massive hail storm in Denver, where hailstones as big as 2.75 inches pummeled roofs, cars, and windows. Yet, out of 3,168 solar panels at the National Renewable Energy Lab, only one was damaged. Impressive, right? 


Down in Orange County, Florida, Michael Cohen's solar setup faced Hurricane Matthew's 60+ mph winds and heavy rain. Not only did it hold up against the storm, but it also kept on working, generating a noteworthy 4.6 kWh of electricity amidst the turmoil..


You might wonder, "How do they manage that?" It's all in the build and design. Solar panels are made to last, able to handle winds up to 140 mph and hailstones up to one inch in diameter, zooming at 50 miles per hour.


But, let's be real – sometimes, they do get damaged, like when debris hits them. That's why knowing how to get your panels storm-ready is key to keeping them safe and sound.


How a severe storm can affect your solar panel installation

When severe weather rolls in, your solar panels are on the frontline. Think about it – hail, heavy snow, gusty winds... can they take the hit? Absolutely, but there's a catch.


Solar panels are tough, no doubt. Most are tested to laugh in the face of hurricanes, waterproof to the core, and can stand up to winds whipping up to 140 mph. Picture hailstones the size of golf balls – about 1 inch in diameter. 


But here's the rub: it's not just about the panels. Installation is key. If they're not anchored down just right, even the sturdiest panels might wave goodbye in a strong wind. And let's not forget about flying debris – it's like the wildcard of weather damage. A stray branch or a loose shingle can turn into a solar panel's worst nightmare.


In places where hurricanes are more than just a news headline – think Florida, Texas – the rules are strict. Installers have to prove their work can stand up to Mother Nature's mood swings. It's all about making sure those panels stay put, come hell or high water.


So, when you're thinking solar, remember: it's not just what you buy, it's also who installs it. Get it done right, and your solar panels will be more than just a pretty face on your roof – they'll be your steadfast ally against the wildest of weathers.


7 Ways to Prepare Your Solar Panels for a Storm

Even though tempered glass is known for its toughness, severe hailstorms can still pose a significant threat to solar panels. 


To safeguard your panels against the harshest of hail conditions, it's crucial to start taking protective measures right from the moment you purchase them.


Invest in High-Quality, Weather-Resistant Solar Panels

When it comes to solar panels, prioritizing quality is crucial for enduring the elements. Opt for panels rated UL 61730, designed to withstand hail up to three inches in diameter, traveling at speeds as high as 88.3 miles per hour. This level of certification ensures your solar array is armored against almost any storm.


Additionally, look for the IP68 rating, signifying that the panels are waterproof and dustproof. This is vital, as hail can cause cracks leading to leaks, and you want your panels to be resilient against all hail-related threats.


While most modern panels meet these standards, minimizing the risk of hail damage, it's especially important in areas prone to severe hailstorms. Investing in panels with these high durability ratings is not just a choice, but a necessity for lasting solar protection.


Get Protective Barriers

When hailstorms loom, safeguarding your solar panels becomes crucial. One effective method is using protective covers. A hard shell cover offers the best defense, absorbing the full brunt of hailstones and other harsh weather elements, thus shielding the panels underneath. However, these hard cases block sunlight, so your panels won't generate power while covered. It's important to remove them once the storm passes to resume energy collection.


Alternatively, soft covers provide less robust but still effective protection. They lessen the impact and noise of hail against the panels and are easier to manage compared to hard covers. For most hailstorms, soft covers are sufficient to keep your solar investment safe.


Use Wire Mesh Protection

Think of wire mesh as a tough, yet flexible shield for your solar panels. This mesh wraps around your panels, providing a sturdy barrier that stops hail from directly hitting them. The trick is in the mesh size – it's got to be just right. Big enough to let sunlight through, yet small enough to block damaging hail.

But here's what you should know – installation matters. If that wire mesh isn't secured properly, a strong wind could rip it right off. It's like leaving your front door unlocked; you're inviting trouble. So, make sure that mesh is snug and secure. Done right, wire mesh is an affordable, effective way to protect your solar panels without breaking the bank.


Manage Your Landscape Effectively

Effective landscape management plays a crucial role in protecting your solar panels. Start by trimming any overhanging branches – they're potential hazards during storms. Next, keep the area around your panels free from loose debris. Fallen leaves, broken branches, or even wayward garden tools can become projectiles in windy conditions. By maintaining a clean and clear space around your solar panels, you're essentially setting up a defensive buffer zone. This proactive approach reduces the risk of unexpected damage and ensures your panels operate efficiently, free from obstructions. It's not just about keeping things neat; it's a strategic move to safeguard your solar investment.


Use Technological Solutions

We're living in the 21st century, and solar panel protection has gone high-tech. Enter automated panel tilting systems – think of them as your panels' personal weather vanes. A hailstorm's brewing? No problem. These smart systems spring into action, tilting your panels to just the right angle to minimize the impact. The panels constantly adjust to protect against hail's fury.


But it's not just about dodging hailstones. These systems are designed to keep your panels working efficiently, rain or shine. In winter, when sunlight is scarce, the system smartly tilts your panels to capture every possible ray, ensuring you get the most out of the available sunlight. It's not just protection; it's about enhancing efficiency all year round.


Shutdown Your Solar Panels

When severe weather hits, being prepared is key, especially for your solar panels. Before a storm, shutting down your solar system is a smart move. Here's how you do it: start by turning off the inverter AC mains isolator, usually found in the meter box. Then, switch off the PV array isolator, typically located next to the inverter. This process ensures that your system is safely disconnected, reducing the risk of damage during extreme weather.


Remember, it's not just about turning things off; it's about protecting your solar investment. By following these steps, you're not only safeguarding the panels but also ensuring they're ready to spring back into action once the storm passes. It's a simple yet effective way to bounce back with minimal fuss after severe weather.


Insurance and Warranties:

When it comes to protecting your solar panels from weather's surprises, insurance and warranties are your financial guardians. Standard warranties usually cover defects and performance issues, but they might not extend to weather-related damages like hail or high winds. That's where your insurance steps in.


It's crucial to thoroughly understand your coverage. Does your homeowner's insurance include solar panel damage from severe weather? If not, consider additional coverage. This isn't just about ticking a box; it's about ensuring peace of mind. With the right insurance and warranty in place, you can rest easy knowing that your solar investment is secure, come rain, hail, or high winds. Remember, it's not just about recovering from damage; it's about safeguarding your solar journey for the long haul.


Post-Storm Solar Panel Care

After a storm, it's crucial to give your solar panels some TLC to ensure they're still in top shape. Here's a quick guide to post-storm care:


  • Initial Assessment: First things first – take a good look at your panels. Are there any visible signs of damage like cracks or loose connections? Even small issues can lead to bigger problems, so it's important to catch them early.

  • Professional Inspection: Sometimes, damage isn't obvious to the untrained eye. That's where a professional inspection comes in handy. They'll check every nook and cranny to make sure everything's working as it should. Think of it as a health check-up for your solar system.

  • Maintenance and Repairs: If there's damage, don't delay repairs. Ignoring small issues can lead to reduced efficiency or, worse, complete system failure. Regular maintenance, especially after severe weather, keeps your system running smoothly and efficiently.


Remember, your solar panels are a big investment. Post-storm care is crucial for their longevity. Need a professional inspection, repair, or even a replacement? Contact us today for all your solar panel needs.


FAQ

Can solar panels withstand hail and heavy snow?

Yes, most modern solar panels are designed to withstand hail and heavy snow. They are tested for resilience against hailstones and can bear significant snow loads. However, extremely large hail or unusually heavy snowfall might still pose a risk.

What should I do immediately after a severe storm?

How does weather damage affect my solar panel warranty?


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