Can Solar Panels Withstand a Hurricane?
November 18, 2021
Solar panel manufacturers make their systems as tough as possible since they’re constantly exposed to elements. Solar panels are durable enough to withstand a hurricane among other tough conditions.
The good news is that you generally don’t have to worry about hurricane winds, rain, or hail ruining or damaging your solar panels since they’re built to be resilient. But you’ll need to take some necessary precautions before any tropical storms hit.
How Durable Are Solar Panels?
Solar panels might seem fragile since some are made of glass, but high-quality, thick tempered glass is actually quite strong.
However, solar panels made of monocrystalline silicon are much more common and have greater durability overall. Monocrystalline silicon is made by melting pure silicon and forming it into bars, then cutting it into wafers. The purer the silicon, the more efficient your solar panels are.
SunPower solar panels are made of monocrystalline silicon and have a solid copper backing and thick connectors, making them more durable than any other solar panel in the world. Solar panels from SunPower also boast the lowest degradation rate, and thus a longer lifespan.
Manufacturers also rigorously test their products and pursue third-party verification to ensure their solar panels can withstand a hurricane and its toughest conditions including high-force winds, large hail, and heavy rain.
[Related: What Is the Best Roof for Solar Panels?]
Where Do Hurricanes Hit?
Hurricanes that hit the U.S. typically occur on the Atlantic and Gulf of Mexico coasts, and can even travel 100 to 200 miles inland. Hurricanes also strike Puerto Rico, the U.S. Virgin Islands, Hawaii, and other U.S. territories in the Pacific ocean. And while uncommon, they can even hit the Southwest region of the U.S.
It’s likely no surprise that Florida has seen the most hurricanes of any U.S. state. Its position between the Gulf of Mexico and the Atlantic Ocean makes it extremely susceptible to tropical storms rolling in from either side. Since the start of the Saffir-Simpson Scale in 1851, which categorizes hurricanes by their severity, Florida has experienced a whopping 41% of 292 total hurricanes.
Texas is one notch down from Florida, seeing the second most hurricanes. It’s much more prone to being hit due to its placement right above the Gulf of Mexico, which is known to stir up some of the most severe tropical storms.
Effects of Hurricane Weather on Solar Panels
Effects of Rain on Solar Panels
Rain has no real negative effect on solar panel systems. Solar panels and their connectors are durable and waterproof. You won’t have to worry about them falling apart when the rain starts pouring down.
In fact, the residual rain droplets on your panels can actually have a positive effect on your energy generation. Water is reflective, so those droplets will attract light and boost energy generation when the sun reemerges after a rainstorm.
Rain is also helpful in washing away dirt and debris from your solar panels. This keeps them clean for ample sunlight absorption.
Effects of Wind on Solar Panels
Most solar panels can handle wind speeds of up to 2,400 pascals, which equates to 140 miles per hour (mph). The best manufacturers engineer solar panel systems with local wind patterns in mind.
The U.S. National Hurricane Center classifies Category 3 hurricanes and above as major hurricanes. The more severe a hurricane category is, the less frequently it occurs.
The typical sustained wind speed for Category 3 hurricanes is between 111 and 129 mph. Nevertheless, your solar panel system should have no trouble combatting these strong wind loads and can withstand a hurricane.
Effects of Hail on Solar Panels
Contrary to what most might think, solar panels are resistant to some of the hardest, biggest hail stones. The National Renewable Energy Laboratory studied 50,000 solar panel installations between 2009 and 2013 and found that only .1% of all systems reported damage or underperformance of modules each year.
This is due to quality manufacturers testing their panels for extreme weather conditions. Every manufactured solar panel must undergo testing and have proof of an Underwriters Laboratories (UL) certification, or some sort of variation of it if the manufacturer is outside of the United States. The UL certification proves that the solar panel has passed a number of assessments on durability, safety, and quality.
Do Solar Panels and Batteries Work During Hurricanes?
Solar panels can still generate energy in spite of the intense rain and clouds that hurricanes bring. Your system’s panels can absorb sunlight and produce electricity as long as sunlight is hitting them either directly or indirectly.
However, hurricanes often cause damage to grid lines, which results in power outages. Certain states such as Florida require solar panel owners to connect to the grid. In the event of an outage, all solar systems need to halt power generation for the safety of electricians working to restore the grid.
How to Prepare Your Solar Panels for a Hurricane
You’ll likely hear from your local weather station if a hurricane is on the way.
Make sure to document the condition of your solar panel system before a hurricane hits in case you have any damage. Solar panels are just as much of a financial investment as other valuables. Having proof will help your case when pursuing insurance coverage.
Having both hard and digital photo copies is a wise idea should you need to provide documents for your provider. Most solar warranty plans cover your system’s equipment, labor, and repair or maintenance due to damage, loss or theft over a 25-year period.
You should also contact your HOA if you have one sooner rather than later to obtain information on wind, rain, and hail coverage from a tropical storm.
[Related: Uninstalling and Reinstalling Solar Panels]
How to Inspect Your Solar Panels After a Hurricane
You should always inspect your solar panel system for damage once a hurricane has passed. However, roof solar panels aren’t as easy to assess as wall or ground-mounted solar panels. Make sure to contact your solar provider so a specialist can assess your system.
Take photos of any damage whether you’re doing the inspection yourself or asking a solar specialist to help you. Make sure to avoid any exposed or displaced wires. The system could be energized with currents and potentially harm you.
Contact Freedom Solar for Durable SunPower Solar Panels
Contact us to learn more about Freedom Solar and how our SunPower solar panels can withstand a hurricane. Call +1 (800) 504-2377 to speak with one of our solar consultants or request a quote through our inquiry form.
Featured image via Pixabay