We earn commissions from purchases

Preventing Solar Panel Hail Damage: Important Tips

When you own a solar panel, you want to protect your investment and ensure it lasts as long as possible. Solar panels are prone to strong winds and hail damage. Hail can puncture solar panels because ice often makes them, and these are often in some states, just like in Colorado. 

When you own a solar panel, you want to protect your investment and ensure it lasts as long as possible. Solar panels are prone to strong winds and hail damage. Hail can puncture solar panels because ice often makes them, and these are often in some states, just like in Colorado. 

Solar panels are vulnerable to severe weather, including hurricanes, blizzards, and high wind. Whether you live in a country prone to hail or have bad weather, taking measures to protect your solar panel from hail damage is an important step.

You may think that this case won’t happen to you but, statistically speaking, there is a chance your solar panel could get damaged by hail. But the thing is, there is good news.

There are some things you can do to reduce the risk of damage or increase the chances of your solar panel surviving if hailstones do hit it. Here are some valuable tips on preventing solar panel hail damage:

What Is Hail?

Hail is a form of precipitation that falls from the atmosphere and onto the earth’s surface. It consists of ice balls or ice pellets that are spherical or irregular in shape. They may be the size of a golf ball.

Hail is usually associated with thunderstorms but can also occur during other types of severe weather conditions in different state areas. The diameter of hail can range from a few millimeters to several centimeters.

Larger hailstones usually have the ability to damage property and can be dangerous to people. Less than five percent of solar panels are damaged by hailstones, according to a National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) study.

For example, a hailstorm in Denver damaged vehicles, car windows, and roofs, leaving golfball-sized dents. Even though 3,000 solar panels carpet the NREL Denver campus, only one was damaged.

Hail can travel to an extent of 10 and 75 mph, with large hailstones moving at higher speeds and causing more solar industry damage. 

How Are Solar Panels Designed And Tested To Withstand Hail?

Tempered glass makes hail-resistant solar panels. This type of glass is much stronger than regular glass and can resist shattering when hit with hail stones. The hailstorm simulator test is the panels’ durability by firing hailstones at them at high speeds.

What Are Solar Panels Made Of?

Semiconductor materials are used to make solar panels. They convert solar energy into clean electricity. You can use batteries to store the generated solar power.

Thin-film PV panels are either amorphous silicon or crystalline silicon (crystalline silicon and amorphous silicon are the most common semiconductor materials used to make solar PV panels).

The following are the different types of solar panels that may answer the question “What Solar Panel is Best For My Home and Business?”:

Crystalline Silicon Solar Panels

A group of silicon cells is mounted and protected by an aluminum frame (crystalline silicon PV modules). Tempered glass and encapsulant layers are then added to preserve them.

Most customers commonly use these PV modules in residential applications because they are high efficiency. You can find monocrystalline and polycrystalline silicon solar panels in the crystalline silicon category.

Thin-film Solar Panels

Amorphous silicon thin-film solar panels are becoming more popular because they cost less to produce and for easier installations. Because thin-film solar cells are lighter, more flexible, and cheaper to make, they are becoming more popular.

Because they don’t need to support the weight of an entire window, thin-film panels are lighter and more efficient than glass-coated solar cells. However, thin-film panels are less efficient than crystalline silicon panels.

Solar Panel Glass Protection

In the long term, solar panels are an essential investment and should be chosen based on their efficiency and power.

While it’s crucial to think about efficient and powerful panels, you should not disregard the fact that they are a long-term investment with a lifespan of decades and give you confidence that your panel is protected.

The glass barriers protect the solar modules from damage caused by hailstones, rain, and dust, which can damage even your home and cars. It’s critical to consider the kind of glass protection they have to guarantee that they are both tough and secure. When it comes to solar module glass, there are two options:

Tempered Glass

A layer of tempered glass is used in solar panels to provide a protective barrier between humans and hazardous glass. Thermal or chemical methods create toughened glass, which is more substantial than regular glass of the same thickness.

When you break tempered glass, it shatters into many small pieces rather than splitting into thousands of tiny, sharp splinters. It decreases the risk of serious injury by shattering into small pieces.

Plate Glass

A flat plate glass window is more vulnerable to breakage. This type of window is usually shattered during a storm, resulting in failure. Someone uses a flat table to slowly cool and solidify molten glass.

Solar Panel Glass – Tempered VS. Plate

A hailstorm can destroy fragile plate glass, while tempered glass is much more resistant. Tempered glass has a higher safety rating than plate glass in general. Different companies construct high-quality crystalline solar panels from tempered glass.

3 to 5 mm-thick tempered glass is used on crystalline solar panels to protect against most hailstorms. Thin-film solar panels cannot make use of flat plate glass because of the construction procedure, leading to a comparative disadvantage. 

Some company compensates for this disadvantage by using thicker flat plate glass, but this is still not as strong as using white tempered glass. To ensure that a solar panel uses thick tempered or toughened glass measured in millimeters (mm) and is at least 3 mm thick, refer to the solar panel’s datasheet.

Why Is Hail A Problem For Solar Panels?

Hail is an issue for solar panels because it can damage them and make them less efficient. It may result in the following:

Hail Can Cause Solar Equipment Damage.

Solar panels are difficult to damage because the tempered glass layer is thick and can be used outdoors for many years. Tempered glass is known to withstand moderate hail and has a high safety rating.

Despite mixed reports, some homeowners report no hail damage to their solar panels following a heavy storm, while others note small cracks and scratches. Hailstorm impacts on a solar panel’s internal solar cells and components may occur even if the external damage is minimal or non-existent.

Hail can reduce solar panel performance.

Can solar panels that have cracks on the surface during a hailstorm still function? Cracks on the surface of solar modules will not necessarily prevent them from functioning.

A panel might not operate at optimal voltage, output, or efficiency if 15 percent of the cells on the panel are damaged due to hail; the voltage may be 15 percent lower than normal. It’s easy to tell if a panel is broken by measuring its voltage.

If you discover any damage early on, the cracks will not likely cause damage to internal parts or diminish performance. You can avoid hot spots by keeping water, moisture, or debris out of the panel. Permanent damage to the internal part may occur if the panel gets hot.

Unfortunately, not all external cracks will result in reduced performance. The damage may be purely cosmetic or restricted to the surface.

Warranty Limitations On Solar Panels Damaged By Hail

Most warranties do not cover hailstorms, which can damage photovoltaic (PV) modules. The ‘environmental factors’ category usually protects a specific condition or event in a solar warranty.

If you live in a region where hailstorms are common, such as the Midwest, you should check to see whether your solar panel warranty covers hailstorm damage and whether it is adequately covered. If your solar panel warranty does not cover hailstorm damage, you must get it insured through your homeowner’s policy.

Additional Insurance Costs

Homeowner’s insurance policies usually cover hail damage to roof solar panels. However, you must check whether your dwelling policy covers hail damage to rooftop solar cells under the dwelling category.

Be as thorough as possible and look for the term “covered peril” to verify whether hail is included. You should ensure you are comfortable with the coverage limit if your solar panels are damaged by hail.

You must either extend your policy or purchase a separate one to receive coverage if your insurance does not include solar panel hail damage coverage. Most homeowners’ insurance policies include solar panels on your roofs.

If you have ground-mounted or carport-mounted solar panels in your house, you may want to purchase an add-on or stand-alone policy for the systems. Because the solar panels are not directly linked to your home, you may need an extra or stand-alone policy. You should ask your insurance company first.

How To Protect Your Solar Panels From Hail?

As the weather gets warmer, thunderstorms become more common. Severe thunderstorms can produce large hail, which can fall at speeds up to 100 mph. If hail hits your solar panels, it can damage or break them. Here are a few ways to protect your solar panels from hail:

Look For UL 61730 Or IEC 61730 Solar Panel Rating

Look for UL 61730 certification for PV modules that have been tested for hailstorm resistance (UL, n.d.). Underwriters’ Laboratories (UL) performs hail impact tests and gives UL 61730 certifications for PV modules (Underwriters’ Laboratories, n.d.).

UL certifications are only available in North American markets, while IEC certifications are available internationally, making them global standards. You are likely to see a combination of both trademarks on PV panels.

If a PV module has either an IEC or UL 61730 certification, it will likely be able to withstand one-inch to three-inch hailstones traveling at speeds of 16.8 mph to 88.3 mph across the U.S. The area between Texas, Oklahoma, Kansas, and Nebraska is affected by hail storms with two-inch stones.

In regions with a high probability of hail storms, look for solar panels certified to withstand them. These solar panels can withstand up to 3 inches of hailstones moving at 88.3 mph.

Choose High-quality Solar Panels.

Durable materials and a high-quality solar panel manufacturing process are used for these high-performance modules. These organizations typically obtain performance testing and certification for their products.

The following are some examples: LG’s NeON 2 and NeON R series panels, Sunpower’s M series panels, Hanwha Q Cells’ Q.PEAK DUO BLK panels, Silfab’s SIL-380 BK and SIL-370 BK panels, and Mission Solar’s MSE PERC 60 and MSE PERC 72 panels. 

Use A Temporary Protective Cover.

Covering your solar panels with a padded or hard shell cover is an excellent strategy to protect them from hail damage. A padded cover is more lightweight and flexible, while a hard shell cover is sturdy and muffles the sound of hailstones.

When the storm has passed, remove the covers as your panel cannot get a source of energy from the sun. A quality solar system is unlikely to be damaged if it is periodically subjected to light hail.

If you live in a place where large hailstones are common, you should protect your solar panels before a storm by proactively covering them.

Inspect Solar Panels After A Hail Storm

Inspect your solar panels after a storm for damage. It is an excellent time to remove debris and check the panels for cracks in the surface and the frame for dents. You don’t have to inspect your system after every storm, especially if it was a light to moderate event.

If your system isn’t generating power or working correctly after being exposed to mild hail, then you should check the panels on the rooftop and check for any cracks or inconsistencies on the surface. For extreme hail, it’s a good idea to check the panels after the storm has passed. 

If you find damage to your solar panels, take a picture of the damage to help with insurance or warranty claims later. Avoid opening the panels or applying adhesives, as these could void your warranty and make filing claims difficult.

Conclusion

Solar panels are a great way to generate electricity but are also susceptible to hail damage. It can be a concern, particularly during winter when hail and snowfall can abate solar panel energy production.

Unfortunately, hail damage is also expensive for solar power panel owners. If you own a solar panel and have noticed that it has been damaged by hail, it’s essential to take action – as soon as possible. We hope that this content answers some of your questions.

FAQ

Can solar panels crack or get damaged during a hailstorm?

While solar panels are built to withstand some extreme weather conditions, hail is one of the few things that can cause damage to them. If hail hits your solar panels hard enough, it can crack the glass or break off one of the cells.

What size of hail can damage a solar panel?

Most manufacturers design solar panels to withstand hail up to 1 inch in diameter. Hail that is larger than 1 inch in diameter can damage a solar panel.

How do we protect solar panels from hail?

To protect solar panels from hail, installing them in a location that is not prone to severe weather conditions is recommended.


Leave a Comment