Clean solar energy helps in living a sustainable life. But solar panels are pretty expensive. Thus, you must know the tips to protect them from hail to enjoy clean energy for a long time.
You can perform regular maintenance, buy protective covers, and act following weather warnings to prevent hail damage. Also, you can get insurance for solar panels to cover the high cost of damages and replacement. This way, you don’t need to replace the panels entirely, saving you money.
By following maintenance steps, you can protect the costly solar panels from hail damage. Keep reading to learn everything about protecting panels from hail damage.
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Can There be Hail Damage to Solar Panels?
Hails can damage roofs, gardens, windows, and even cars. But what about solar panels? Unfortunately, solar panels can get damaged by hail. The glass sheet that protects the solar panel can also get damaged from hail.
How Does Hail Damage Affect the Solar Panel?
Hail can damage solar panels in different ways, causing significant problems. The panels and windscreens of cars are made from the same materials, i.e., tempered glass.
When hail falls on the tough tempered glass, it can make the glass shatter or cause a dent. In some situations, hail can decrease solar panel performance by causing invisible damage to solar cells.
When moisture is present in the solar cells, it damages other parts of the solar panel, resulting in a short circuit. Either way, the solar panel’s energy will decrease significantly and reduce its lifespan.
Solar panels’ performance can be compromised even due to minor damages like scratches or breaks. That’s because these damages can restrict the sunlight entering the panels.
Ideally, more giant hailstones with more than one-inch diameter can cause damage to the solar panels. At certain times, hail can cause visible damage to solar panels. Besides this, falling debris, like tree branches, can also contribute to solar panel damage during severe storms.
How to Protect Solar Panels from Hail Damage?
It’s better to use a combination of protective measures than one single measure to see the best results.
Common ways to protect solar panels from severe hail damage include flexible installation, wire mesh, protective coating, automatic panel changing system, and removable protective covers.
Solar panels are an expensive purchase. That’s why you should know different ways to protect panels from hail damage to keep them in good shape for a long time.
You are free to use one or more strategies to maintain the performance of your solar panels.
#1 Add Adjustable Installation
Solar panels cannot offer maximum energy when installed vertically. It would be best if you placed them face up so they can obtain maximum energy from the UV rays.
In addition, you can create a flexible installation to turn the panels so hail does not cause severe damage. It’s advised to install the panels at 45 degrees so the hails falling on them can easily slide away.
This way, the solar panels won’t get damaged and still offer clear solar energy for consumption. But flexible installation cannot protect the solar panels from damage if the hail storms are large.
One of the easiest ways to create a flexible installation is by mounting the solar panels to a pole. It gives you the option to adjust the panels anytime when required quickly.
Whenever there is predicted weather for large hail or hailstorms, turn the panels vertically on the pole. It will decrease the amount of damage solar panels face.
You can quickly change the position of your solar panel if it was previously installed the correct way. While it’s not an entirely reliable method, it can offer some level of protection from hail.
#2 Automatic Panel Changing Systems
Another way to protect solar panels from hail damage is automatic panel-changing systems. With this system, you can turn the panel at your convenience. But it’s an expensive arrangement, which can increase the overall cost of your solar panels.
If we compare the benefits to the cost, automatic panel changing systems are worth it. You can change your panel’s angle using a remote.
Out of all the solutions, it’s the most expensive one. But it is one of the most convenient and effective solar panel protection methods.
#3 Protective Cover For Solar Panels
You can purchase protective covers for solar panels, but not all covers offer protection against hailstones. Look for sturdy covers that say hail protection, as these can nicely absorb hail impact, offering protection to solar cells and panels.
After purchasing suitable solar panel covers, you need to cover the panels when hail is predicted to come to your area. Make sure you remove the panel covers after the hail storm is gone because sunlight cannot get through them to the covers.
Protective covers are only a good choice when your batteries are fully charged, and the panels don’t need UV rays. But the covers might not be a good option if you have more solar panels or are not at home.
#4 Protective Coating for Solar Panels
Another way to protect your solar panels from hail damage is by applying a layer of methacrylate to the panels. This coating offers protection by forming a rugged and durable layer.
Besides methacrylate, you can also consider getting a plexiglass panel to cover the glass panel. Good-quality plexiglass can adequately absorb the impact and protect the solar panels from severe hail damage.
Compared to solar panels, plexiglass is cheaper. So, replacing it is a lot more affordable. But unfortunately, plexiglass can get hot and damage the solar cells. You can consult your solar panel manufacturer or supplier to select the best plexiglass.
#5 Wire Mesh
If you are low on budget, consider getting a wire mesh to protect solar panels. One way you can protect solar panels with wire mesh is by mounting them over and on the sides of the panels. It will stop the hail storm from touching the panels.
You can easily find wires in the store and conveniently put them on the solar panels. Don’t worry about the hail storms that get through the wires because they won’t cause any damage to the solar panels.
#6 Follow the Weatherman’s Advice
Another way you can protect your solar panel is by following the meteorologist’s advice. Your weatherman offers straightforward and honest safety precautions that will help you protect the panels from severe hail damage.
Make sure you subscribe to reliable and popular sites to get the latest and honest information.
Online sites also have an alert feature that informs about the hail immediately after issuing the warning. When you get early warnings, you are left with sufficient time to prepare to protect the solar panels from hail damage.
#7 Use Cleaning Robots
Don’t hesitate to use the help of technology by cleaning robots to get the most out of your solar panels. Solar companies have started manufacturing cleaning robots to improve the safety of solar panels.
Automated solar panels are very efficient and use significantly less amount of work to clean the panels. Once the panels are cleaned, they can absorb the maximum amount of UV rays, offering you the most energy.
#8 Conduct Regular Inspections
With regular solar panel inspection, you can ensure the condition of the panels is maintained. Inspections make you a responsible solar panel owner.
During the inspection, if a defect is detected, you get sufficient time to repair the panels so the damage does not increase. You can either hire professionals for the work or conduct regular inspections on your own.
#9 Get the Right Solar Panels
Before purchasing solar panels:
- Do detailed research to find the most appropriate solar panels.
- Consider the energy you use daily and your area’s weather conditions.
- Get solid solar panels if your area has adverse weather conditions.
Along with investing in quality solar panels, you must also invest in the best installation service. Instead of installing the panels permanently on the roof, try to fix them. This way, you can de-touch the panels when needed.
Why Do Solar Panels Get Damage?
The fragile material of the solar panel makes it susceptible to damage. Almost all solar panels are made of photovoltaic cells. The panels are mounted on a cover called crystalline silicon panels.
Besides this, thin-film-made solar panels are also standard in the market. The cells of these panels are made from amorphous silicon. Plus, the panels have a plastic layer, making them more flexible and lighter.
You can mold the thin-film panels to the shape of the roof to get the most solar energy for usage. In addition, these solar panels are lower in cost but are less efficient than crystalline silicon panels.
What Amount of Hail Can a Solar Panel Handle?
While hail can damage solar panels, the panels do not break even at the slightest impact. The panels are strong, which allows them to withstand hailstorms to a certain level.
Compared to standard glass, solar panels having tempered glass are more robust. These can withstand hail storms and rarely get damaged from hail.
Hails measuring 1 inch and smaller do not damage solar panels. But larger hail can damage panels and decrease their productivity.
While some solar panels have photovoltaic cells from a layer of glass and silicon, the new ones have amorphous silicon solar cells. Rather than glass, these have a plastic layer, which makes them more robust against hail damage.
These plastic-covered solar panels also cost less than glass ones but are less efficient.
Possible Things to do After Hail Damage
Solar panels are made from rigid materials, so they withstand hail and various other climates. If you can successfully protect the panels from hailstorms and offer proper maintenance, they can last for many years.
But significant hailstorms can significantly damage solar panels. This thing can further decrease their productivity and durability.
Here’s what you can do after hail damage:
#1 Insurance When Installing Solar Panels
Make sure you get insurance for solar panels to avoid unnecessary expenses. But not all insurance companies offer their service for solar panel protection.
Therefore, you need to search for the right company for solar panel insurance. Panels installed on your home’s roof can cause fire or face some other damage. But insurance will protect you from getting into a financial burden.
Sometimes solar panels are covered under your home policy because they are considered a part of the home structure.
Before you make any assumptions about your homeowner’s insurance, discuss with the insurance company to know about coverage policies. In addition, you can ask about the roof covering to know about your roof insurance coverage.
If you live in areas more likely to face hail and storms, you need an insurance policy with better protection.
Plus, your rooftop solar panel system should be professionally installed. Panel installation is not something you can do on your own. Professionals have got years of experience in adequately mounting and protecting the roof.
#2 Repair the Damage
It’s always advised to repair the damaged solar panels instead of replacing them. That’s because panels are expensive. So, replacing them without insurance can put you under financial strain.
But repairing the damaged panel can help you save a significant amount of money. You can get a suitable replacement depending on the amount of solar panel damage. For instance, cracked glass damage is easy to repair.
Almost all solar panel parts are available in the market, allowing easy and quick replacement. But repairing cells and glass covering might not be easy.
Besides cost, replacing solar panels is also not encouraged because panels consume chemicals, energy, and water. If you are environmentally friendly, you might consider replacing and disposing of damaged solar panels.
What Can Damage Solar Panels Other Than Hail?
Other things can damage hail and solar panels, including poor handling, weather, wildlife, and debris. Any extreme weather condition that can damage cars and homes can easily damage solar panels.
Solar panels that are not sealed properly can be easily damaged by rain. In addition, the panel surface can even get scratched by branches and leaves.
Similarly, stepping, dropping, and kneeling can damage solar panels. Also, birds and squirrels can scratch the panel or make nests under the panels, damaging the wires.
How to Protect Solar Panels from Other Damages
#1 Clean the Solar Panels
Keep the panels clean so they don’t get damaged by debris. Cleaning solar panels can make them energy efficient as well.
You can use a soft brush, water, and a glass cleaner. Cleaning solar panels is easy, but you can hire professionals for better service. Roof-mounted solar panels can be easily cleaned using a hose from ground level.
#2 Protect From Rain
Solar panels generally don’t need protection from rain because the panels are correctly sealed. But it would be best to have the panels regularly inspected to check for any possible seal leaks.
If the panels are not appropriately sealed, professionals can fix them to protect solar cells from dirt and rain.
#3 Protect From Stones
If you wish to protect the solar panels from stones or rocks, use wire mesh. It’s an affordable and effective solution. For wire mesh installation, you can hire professionals.
#4 Protect from Birds and Other Wildlife
Birds and wildlife animals can also damage the solar panels, which equally decreases the panel’s performance. But you have a few inexpensive options to protect the panels.
For instance, you can install bird spikes on the roof to stop birds from preaching on the rooftop. Or you can use plastic decoys that look like birds of prey. It will scare away the pigeons and other birds.
Wrapping wire mesh around the edge of solar panels can also stop the animals from getting on the panels. It also discourages birds from creating nests on the panels and animals from chewing panel wires.
Lastly, you can consider removing bird feeders to make your yard less attractive to wildlife.
Can solar panels withstand hail?
Solar panels can easily withstand less than 1 inch in diameter, falling at 50 miles/hour.
Can you protect RV solar panels from hail?
You can protect RV solar panels from hail using a protective cover. The cover will slow the impact of hail stones falling on the panel.
How Much Damage Does Hail Do?
Hail damage on the panel can vary depending on the size of the hailstones or how fast they are falling. Many times hail damage is not severe and can be easily fixed.
Hailstorms can severely damage the solar panel, leaving you with the stress of replacing the panels.
But you can protect the panels using wire mesh or by tilting the panels at an acute angle. In addition, you can follow other tips to protect panels and improve their efficiency. Always keep a tap on the weather radar so you can prepare in advance.