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Can Solar Panels Withstand Hurricanes and Hail?

solar panels and hurricanes

Every June, as families across the country pack up the minivan and embrace vacation season, some homeowners gird their loins for a much less idyllic aspect of summer: hurricane season. In the United States, hurricane season starts on May 15th and ends on November 30, and if you feel like hurricanes have become more of a problem in recent years, you aren’t wrong. Each year, hurricanes get more deadly and destructive. Given all that, if you’re considering going solar, you’re probably asking yourself, “Can solar panels withstand a hurricane and hail?”

In this blog we’re going to find out! Good quality solar panels are built to withstand extreme weather.  When they are installed by professionals like ADT Solar and paired with a solar battery system, they may even help you cope with the damage that comes with these tropical storms.

Do solar panels work during hurricanes?

As long as some sunlight is reaching your solar panels,  they can still generate electricity. The energy output, however, will be less than on clear days. That means your solar panels can still produce some energy even during cloudy weather, light rain, snowstorms, or even hurricanes.

However, if your area’s power grid goes down, you may not have access to your solar energy. For the safety of electricians working to get the grid back up and running, solar panels are powered down during a power outage–unless you also have solar batteries. With batteries in place, the current from your panels can be diverted into your battery and your home. More on that later!

Solar Panels and Hurricanes

solar panels and hurricanes and hail

If you’ve lived on the Gulf Coast, you’re probably a veteran of at least one hurricane.  Given what you’ve seen, you might wonder if your solar panels can withstand the damage from a hurricane. Most solar panels sold by ADT Solar are made to survive winds up 140 miles per hour or more. The maximum wind speed for a Category 3 storm is 129 mph, meaning your panels are manufactured to withstand even a major hurricane.

When Ida, a historically dangerous category 4 hurricane, slammed into Louisiana’s coast in August of 2021, it plunged the Greater New Orleans region into a massive blackout. The power grid suffered catastrophic destruction. Hundreds of thousands were left without power. The extreme heat that followed posed significant health risks. Large swaths of the population were left without access to clean water or refrigeration.  But for many of the 19,000 Louisianians with solar panels and solar batteries, the aftermath was much more bearable. Many solar panels stood up to the storm and allowed some homeowners to keep their lights on. Some even helped their neighbors get through the worst of the aftermath. Not only that, but for some, the panels worked as a type of protection for the roof of the structures, reducing the amount of repair work needed.

Solar Batteries and Hurricanes

enphase solar powerSolar batteries can store the electricity your panels produce during the day and allow you to use it during the night or during a storm when the power grid goes out. A battery allows you to power your necessities such as lights, appliances, and medical equipment in the aftermath of storms. Adding an Enphase Encharge or a Tesla Powerwall is a great way to protect your home from a power outage. Even without batteries, Enphase’s innovative IQ8 Microinverter with Sunlight Backup can help keep your home essentials up  when the lights go out for some and others are wrestling with finding gasoline to power their noisy and smelly fossil-fuel guzzling generator, your solar panels and batteries can continue to help keep you safe and comfortable.

So solar panels can be a great tool to help you prepare for hurricane season, but what about other natural phenomena? One thing homeowners worry about when thinking about mounting glass solar panels on their roof is a whole other matter–hail.

Solar Panels and Hail

We know what you’re thinking, “Aren’t solar panels made of glass? Won’t they break when they’re hit by hail?”

Well, yes, they are made of glass. However, there are many types of glass, and solar panels are made from some of the toughest glass you’ll to encounter. Think of the difference between a frail champagne glass is and how tough your windshield or iPhone screen can be.

A great deal of research and know-how, both private and public, has resulted in high-tech glass manufacturing technology that results in glass durable enough to withstand extreme weather on rooftops.

All leading solar panel manufacturers subject their panels to rigorous testing to ensure that they are durable and safe. In fact, the standard test for hail damage on solar panels is to launch multiple golf-ball-sized ice balls at the glass at seventy miles per hour.

A leading resource for advancing the science of solar panels is the National Renewable Energy Laboratory, a laboratory of the US Department of Energy. One of that lab’s primary goals is to find ways to make solar power more affordable and practical for all Americans, and in 2014 they released a study of 50,000 solar systems installed between 2009 and 2012 that tracked the durability of panels in real world conditions. Their conclusion? “The probability of [solar] system damage because of hail is below 0.05%.”

Can solar panels withstand hail?

A Hail of A Coincidence

In a vindication of that research, the NRAL’s solar panels survived a catastrophic hail storm.  The storm hit the campus on May 9, 2017,  just a few years after they released their landmark study. The historic storm destroyed windshields and roofs, postponed a Rockies ballgame, and caused an estimated one billion dollars in damage.

“It just looks like somebody had a ball-peen hammer and was smashing away at it putting dents. Mostly you can just see where the grit’s been ripped off the shingles,” said one resident.

But at the NREL’s campus, a net-zero energy facility with over 3,000 panels generating more than 2.5 megawatts of solar power?

One damaged panel!

One! Out of more than 3,000 active panels!!

Nothing in your home is completely safe from the elements, but manufacturers of high quality solar panels such as those that we work with at ADT Solar constantly test their products to ensure that they can withstand extreme weather.

Can Solar Panels Withstand a Hurricane and Hail? Why ADT Solar Panels are Worth It in Severe Weather

At ADT Solar, we ensure that our manufacturers produce and test their solar panels up to the highest standards. We stand by our manufacturers and our product warranties.

We offer easy ways for you to go solar, so you can enjoy clean, renewable energy without any extra stress during hurricanes and hail storms. If you’d like to learn more, or would like to schedule your free consultation, simply reach out to us today!

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*Originally published October 8, 2021

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