Does Hail Damage Solar Panels?

Solar panel technology converts sunlight into electricity when photons knock electrons free and generate a flow of electricity. Solar panels are made to withstand intense weather conditions. If you live in an area that experiences extreme weather conditions, solar panels are capable of providing power and remaining reliable during these instances. 

Understanding Solar Panels and Hail

Solar panels are protected by a thick layer of tempered glass that is capable of tolerating a substantial amount of impact. Testing and certification of solar panels have helped to develop standards for solar energy systems durability. This has increased solar panels ability to undergo severe weather conditions in a variation of climates. However; the unpredictability of some weather conditions leave panels vulnerable to damage. Hail can cause damage to panels, but the chances of this occurring is slim to none. It is important to continue testing panels in their ability to withstand hail storms in order to increase panel durability and resilience.

Hail Damage and Solar Panel Resistance 

Out of all weather conditions, hail is the most concerning for those looking to invest in solar panels due to the fact that impact is very direct. Hail storms are capable of causing cracks and scratches to the surface of the panels. A solar panel’s internal components could potentially be damaged by the hail impact even if the external cracks are minimal. Even with cracks, a solar panel is still capable of producing; however, productivity may decrease. In order to insure that your panels have been tested for hail conditions, look for panels that are UL 61730 or IEC 61730 rated as these panels are resilient to most hail storms across the United States. These panels can withstand one to three inch hailstones traveling at 16.8 to 88.3 miles per hour. 

Testing and Certification

Testing solar panels takes time and money to complete which a lot of importance is placed on the tests. It is important to purchase panels for your solar energy system that have proper performance certification for hail testing in order to limit the risk for damage by hail storms.

Mitigating Hail Damage

It is important to catch hail damage issues early before it has a greater impact on the system. Cracks on the panel allow water and moisture to get trapped in the panels. Over time, this can cause the panel to malfunction or fail before the end of its lifespan. Cracked surfaces also have the potential to generate hot spots which can result in hot spots that can cause fires or damage internal components.

Insurance and Warranty Considerations

Hail storms are a concern for solar panel modules because warranties typically do not cover hail storm related damage. If warranties do cover damages, coverage is often limited to specific conditions or events. For warranties that do not cover hail damage, looking into homeowner’s insurance for coverage is another option.

Case Study and Real Life Examples

Solar panels have been shown to withstand intense hail storms. In May of 2017, Colorado experienced a destructive hail storm. The NREL was located about 2 miles from the mall that was out of commission for a year about the storm. Of the 3,168 panels at the NREL, only 1 was damaged by the storm. Production did drop during the storm, but rose back to normal production after the storm.

Technological Advancements and Solutions

Continued testing will further solar panel resilience against hail.  Thickening the tempered glass as well as strengthening the frame and support bars can help to improve more hail resistant designs. Advanced monitoring systems can help to detect hail damage and prevent any further damage to the system while also optimizing solar panel performance.

Bottom Line

Solar panels have proven to be capable of withstanding severe hail storms. Testing and certification as well as technological advancements continue to improve the quality and durability of panels. It is important to be aware of potential damage and remain proactive in monitoring your system after experiencing an intense storm. Even in hail prone areas, solar panel production remains a viable and sustainable energy source.