If you live in a place that’s prone to experiencing extreme weather like hurricanes, hail, blizzards, thunderstorms, or heavy winds, then you might worry about how your solar panels can be protected.
After all, solar panels are often installed on rooftops, which are typically the first casualties of extreme weather, especially hurricanes.
During hurricanes, damage to solar panels can occur due to an uplift, or the force caused by wind blowing between the roof itself and the solar panels.
That said, can solar panels survive a hurricane?
What Happens To Solar Panels in a Hurricane?
Unless installed properly, solar panels can become loose or lift up, eventually becoming damaged or dislodged from the roof itself because of high winds blowing in all directions.
Fortunately, most solar panels manufactured by reputable companies go through rigorous testing that includes a certification that the panels can withstand winds of up to 140 miles per hour or 2,400 pascals.
Pascals refer to the unit in which wind resistance is measured in solar panels.
Two thousand four hundred pascals is also equivalent to a Category 4 storm, which has average wind speeds of about 130 to 156 miles per hour.
Factors That Can Affect Solar Panel Strength During Hurricanes
How do solar panels hold up in a hurricane?
Here are several factors that can affect their strength in the face of extreme weather:
Solar Panel Protection
Unless they’re installed properly, solar panels during a hurricane can be damaged beyond repair, not only because of high winds but also because of debris and water or structural damage.
To prevent this from happening, most solar panel mounts are kept in place using heavy bolts and are directly screwed into roof beams. Aluminum and glass casings are also used to keep the solar panels waterproof.
Materials Used During Manufacturing
When installed by reputable companies, high-end solar panels are built to last. Expensive materials are used to produce solar panels to adhere to high standards, thus allowing them to withstand a lifetime of extreme weather.
Additionally, most solar panels can be covered by your insurance depending on the damage they sustain.
Because they’re made from high-quality materials, durability will not be an issue for most solar panels.
In fact, areas hit by Superstorm Sandy, Hurricane Michael, and Hurricane Irma have residential solar panels that were able to survive these extreme weather occurrences with the exception of some panels that were damaged beyond functioning due to the roofs themselves being destroyed.
What Should You Do Before and After a Hurricane Hits?
If you’re wondering how to protect solar panels in a hurricane, preparation before the disaster hits is a crucial step you should undertake.
Similarly, once the hurricane passes, there are also some precautionary measures you should follow to ensure the safety of your household as well as your solar panels.
Here are some recommended steps you can follow before and after a hurricane hits:
Before a Hurricane
● Take photos: It’s important to have an accurate and tangible way to gauge the present condition of your solar panels in case they sustain any damage later on.
● Install a lightning protection system: Solar panels that have not been installed properly run the risk of being damaged due to direct lightning strikes. Installing protective measures such as a discharge path that redirects lightning or even a simple lightning conductor will keep your solar panels, as well as your electrical equipment and appliances, safe.
● Check your warranty: Most solar panels come with a warranty but you should always review what it covers just to be sure that hurricane damage is included in the coverage.
● Acquire an insurance policy or review your existing one: If your solar panel’s warranty doesn’t cover hurricane-related damage, you might want to consider getting your panels insured. If you already have an existing insurance policy, review the coverage to make sure that other potential damages are included, such as flooding, wind damage, and roof leaks.
After a Hurricane
● Ensure safety: After a hurricane, your first priority should be the safety of your family and household. Once you’ve ascertained that everyone is out of danger, do a visual check on your solar panels to see if they’ve sustained any damage.
● Stay on the ground: While it might be tempting to get on your roof to check on your solar panels, never attempt to do this on your own as it’s extremely dangerous. Not only do you run the risk of falling or slipping, but you’re also at risk of getting injured or even electrocuted. Stay on the ground at all costs.
● Contact a professional: If you want to properly ascertain the condition of your solar panels, call a professional, preferably the solar panel installer or even the manufacturer. You may also call on your insurance company to help.
Frequently Asked Questions About Solar Panels During Hurricanes:
1. What wind speed can solar panels withstand?
Solar panels can typically withstand wind speeds of up to about 140 miles per hour, which is equivalent to 2,400 pascals or a Category 4 storm.
2. Can solar panels withstand strong winds?
Yes, most solar panels can withstand strong winds unless they’re improperly installed.
3. What happens to solar panels in a hurricane?
High-quality solar panels can remain mounted on roofs provided that they’re durable, properly installed, and made of premium materials. However, it’s still possible that they can be dislodged from the roof due to poor installation or an uplift.
4. Do solar panels work in storms?
Solar panels can work even at 100% capacity in storms as evidenced by the Veterans Administration hospital in San Juan, Puerto Rico during Hurricane Maria. This particular hospital had a 645-kW rooftop solar panel system operating at 100% capacity despite the weather.
Invest in Quality Solar Panels
Can solar panels withstand hurricanes? Definitely. Do solar panels work in a hurricane? Absolutely. Thus, solar panels can be a great investment for your home if you want to keep the lights on even in the middle of a natural disaster. If you want to get quality solar panels, it’s best to contact a professional installer such as Small Energy Bill to get a system that’s not only safe and durable but also worth the expense.
More from Small Energy Bill
Small Energy Bill is a solar company serving different counties in California. Our commitment to solar energy goes above and beyond all of our very simple criteria for worthy technologies.
We believe that a greener, more sustainable future are the most important considerations for any energy we put our weight behind.