When cleaning solar panels, or trying to get across your roof, it can be a pain. You may be tempted to just step on the solar panels. However, they are expensive pieces of equipment, and you want to make sure that you can step across them safely before actually doing so. (1)
Thankfully, this article explains it below.
The short answer is that it is entirely possible to walk on solar panels. They are made to withstand high amounts of weight, so you won’t shatter them by walking on them. In case of an emergency, you can also walk across them if you need to.
However, just because you can, doesn’t mean you should. While walking on solar panels won’t always damage your panels or harm you, it isn’t advised for many reasons.
Most solar panels can handle around 200 pounds or around 50 to 75 pounds per square foot. However, when you are standing, you are putting all of your weight into one place.
While the whole panel can handle 200 pounds, the concentration of 200 pounds in one or two areas can be enough to damage the panel. The panel damage might not be noticeable at first, such as microcracks, so it is better not to risk it even if you are under 200 pounds. (2)
While you definitely can walk on solar panels, and there is a chance that nothing will happen, it is highly recommended that you don’t. This is because you can end up harming yourself and damaging your solar panels.
In most cases, walking on your solar panels can also void the warranty for your solar panel.
Walking on solar panels does have the potential to damage them. If you put too much weight on the panels in one place, you have the potential to break or crack a cell. While you might not initially see the damage, you have the potential to cause microcracks.
A majority of the time, these microcracks can severely reduce output in solar panels. (3) Additionally, if you live somewhere with fluctuating weather, the cracks in the panels can grow larger. Eventually, they can be visible and cause a severe lack of solar power coming into your system.
You also have the potential to scratch the glass or break the brackets and mounts that attach the solar panel to the roof.
Not only can you harm your solar panels while walking on the roof, but you can also hurt yourself. One of the biggest dangers is slipping. Solar panels are not designed to be walked on and therefore don’t have traction.
When they are wet, you are at a high risk of slipping, even with sturdy shoes. However, even when dry, you can slip if you aren’t careful.
Solar panels are also designed to absorb heat and sunlight. For this reason, solar panels can easily burn you if you touch them with bare skin, such as if you are using your bare feet to walk on them, or you try to catch yourself while slipping.
Also, though it is rare, you have a small chance of electrocuting yourself. The panels themselves don’t carry a charge. But if the wires are loose around the panel, you can experience a shock if you are touching any of the wires and the metal of the panels.
For the most part, solar panel companies and installers have very specific warranties. While most solar panels can easily last 20 or 25 years under most conditions, certain things can shorten their lifespan.
Walking on solar panels is one of those things. For that reason, a lot of companies have it in their warranty that if you walk on the panels at any point and the lifespan is reduced, you aren’t eligible for a free replacement.
- Simms, D. (2023, March 6). How Much Do Solar Panels Cost? | Breakdown and Cost Guide (2023). House Method. https://housemethod.com/solar/how-much-do-solar-panels-cost/
- Van Mölken, J., Yusufoglu, U., Safiei, A., Windgassen, H., Khandelwal, R., Pletzer, T., & Kurz, H. (2012). Impact of Micro-Cracks on the Degradation of Solar Cell Performance Based On Two-Diode Model Parameters. Energy Procedia, 27, 167–172. https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S1876610212012593
- Dhimish, M., Holmes, V., Mehrdadi, B., & Dales, M. (2017). The impact of cracks on photovoltaic power performance. Journal of Science: Advanced Materials and Devices, 2(2), 199–209. https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S2468217917300540#sec5