Solar Hail Damage and other natural hazards like extreme winds, hurricanes, and blizzards are becoming more frequent with climate change. While they threaten life, they also threaten how we produce solar energy. Yes, I am talking about solar panels.
Hail affects them the most, and solar panel owners want to protect their solar panels from this destructive force of nature. The direct impact of hail is deadly and damaging for solar panels. One good thing about this is that extreme hail storms are rare in the United States.
Moreover, solar panel manufacturers keep in mind the damage solar panels can face from nature and make solar panels that can bear a decent amount of light-to-moderate impact. Studies by the National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) have calculated that the chance of hail damaging a solar panel is less than 5%. However, this does not mean that the chances are zero.
What is Hail?
Solid ice falling from the sky resembling snow or rain is called hail. Hailstones are made when an updraft causes moisture to be pushed upwards into the clouds, mixing cold and hot temperatures.
This mixture causes minuscule water droplets to freeze, forming a solid spherical hailstone. The more extreme the thunderstorm, the larger the hailstones. This is due to the severe conditions that arise in a thunderstorm.
It does not matter how much these hailstones weigh or how big they are. What matters is the speed at which they travel. The maximum hail speed is 75 mph, and the minimum is 10 mph. Larger hailstones tend to move at a faster speed due to their increased masses which pose a serious risk to solar panels.
Solar Hail Damage is pretty dangerous and can inflict some severe damage on solar equipment. Tempered glass can easily bear moderate hail and usually has a high safety rating, making it the perfect choice for solar panels. Not only does it cause damage, but hail also reduces the performance of solar panels. Cracked solar panels might function but with less performance than before.
Moreover, there can be microcracks that are hard to detect or repair. These cracks trap water, debris, or moisture inside, weakening the structural integrity of the panel and decreasing its performance further. Fires can also arise from cracked solar panels, which is another safety hazard. Some cracks can look damaging but are only superficial and pose no real danger to the performance.
Warranty Limitations of Solar Hail Damage
Photovoltaic modules do not have a warranty against hail which is a severe problem. The scope of the coverage of these warranties only includes hail as a natural element damaging solar panels under specific events or conditions.
Kindly check the Solar Hail Damage warranty on any solar panel you buy so you do not regret it later.
However, if you have already purchased a solar panel that does not cover Solar Hail Damage, check your homeowner’s insurance for coverage.
Protection From Hail
UL 61730 or IEC 61730 solar panel ratings are unaffected by most Solar Hail Damage storms. They can bear one-inch to three-inch hailstones traveling at 16.8 mph to 88.3 mph. The only difference between UL 61730 and IEC 61730 is that UL applies to North American markets, while IEC is reserved for international markets.
Most solar panels will have a mixture of both ratings on them. The locations most prone to hailstorms are Nebraska, Oklahoma, Kansas, and Texas. Having solar panels with such ratings is a huge relief for any homeowner. This will save you thousands of dollars in repairs. So make sure to buy top-tier solar panels in the first place.
Always buy good-quality solar panels with the above ratings. Since they can handle it, you do not need to cover them up during every hailstorm. You also do not need to inspect them after every hailstorm. However, if you are getting less power than usual, this is a concern. Also, do not apply adhesives in between cracks in hopes of fixing them, as this can cause irreplaceable damage. Let the professionals handle it.