Possible Impact of Hail on Solar Panels

While most people are aware that today's solar panels are made to withstand typical weather issues and patterns, some may have questions about particularly severe weather issues when they crop up. One great example here is hail - will your solar panels be protected if a hailstorm hits your home or building?

At Intermountain Wind & Solar, we're happy to offer a wide range of commercial and residential solar power services to clients around SLC, Utah and Boise, Idaho, including expertise in areas like these. While hailstorms aren't exactly common events in either of these locations, they do happen a few times per year, and sometimes during summer rainstorms. Let's look at some of the factors that will determine whether hail may damage your solar panels, plus how to reduce any such minor risks even if they are present.

Solar Panels Are Tested for Impact - Up to Certain Limits

Firstly, it should be noted that all solar panels are subjected to rigorous testing - by the manufacturers, and then again upon delivery - to make sure that they can withstand certain forces. This includes testing for impact from hail, so it's very likely that your panel will at least be able to handle some hailstones of a particular size.

However, these tests do have limits that will vary depending on manufacturer. Most hail-related tests are for hailstones ranging from 1-2 inches in diameter, and with speeds of up to 50mph. Anything beyond these specifications could result in damage, although this will depend on some other factors as well.

Hail Damage Types and Severity

In cases where hail is either larger or more powerful than the rated capacity of the solar panels to withstand them, a few forms of damage may be possible:

  • Small cracks: On the glass surface of the panels, small cracks may appear from hailstone impacts. In most cases, this isn't anything to worry about as the cells inside should remain intact and the panel will still produce energy.
  • Dents: Dents in the surface of a solar panel is another thing to look out for when it comes to hail damage. As long as these aren't too severe (and they rarely are), the cells should still remain intact and no efficiency loss should be experienced.
  • Impact to connection: In more severe cases, a hailstorm may cause direct physical damage to the connections between the solar panel and other components of the system. This could result in an electrical short or disconnect, reducing energy output until repairs are made.
  • Damage to solar cells: Furthermore, if hailstones are powerful enough, they may even cause direct damage to the solar cells themselves. This can also cause a drop in energy output, and can be expensive to repair or replace.

How To Reduce Hail Damage Risk

Fortunately, there are ways that you can reduce the likelihood of hail damage happening to your own solar panel system. Here are some considerations:

  • Protective coating: There are several modern solar panel products that have a protective coating on the surface of the glass. This not only helps with general wear and tear due to sunlight and other weather conditions, but can also provide extra protection against hail damage.
  • Roof-top system placement: Placing your solar panels in areas where they're more sheltered from hail (such as under the eaves of the house's roof) can also help to protect them from any falling hailstones.
  • Placement angle: Another option, particularly if you know you live in a place where hailstorms are more common than usual, is to adjust the angle of your solar panel system. By tilting the panels slightly, they can be positioned so that hail slides off more easily than if they were in a flat position.

Overall, it's important to know that the majority of solar panels are made to withstand typical hailstorms, and your system should be safe from any minor damage due to these occurrences. However, there is still some risk involved, and by following the tips mentioned above you can help to reduce the chance of any serious damage occurring.

At Intermountain Wind & Solar, we specialize in assessing and installing solar panel systems for all types of buildings - hail risk included. Contact us today to discuss any questions or concerns you have about hail and solar services in Utah or Idaho, and let us help you find the best solutions for your home or business.

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