How Durable are Solar Panels?

If you have considered going solar, you know that most solar panels come with a long list of warranties. Although some panels have a 25-year product warranty, that warranty only covers panel deficiencies and not external factors. Homeowners have to remember that these panels are going on the outside of their house and will be exposed to external forces common in their neighborhood. With that being said, do Coloradans really need to worry about hail damage and should Floridians be concerned about hurricane level winds? In today’s post, we will see how modern solar panels hold up against the powerful elements of Mother Nature.

cloud cover and solar panels

Storms

Storms are one of the most common natural phenomena on this list and can occur in any location across the United States. Other than blocking the sun from the panels (panels perform at 25 percent efficiency during a storm), a storm won’t have any effect on the lifespan of the panels. In fact, a regular storm can actually help the overall efficiency of a solar system. Most panels eventually experience a build-up of dirt and pollen that can block sun from being absorbed by solar cells. A frequent storm will actually wash the panels of any buildup and help them perform as good as new! So, don’t worry if your state has several storms throughout the year because it actually might benefit your panels!

Snow

Rain might wash dust, dirt, and pollen away, but what happens when it snows? Snowstorms can cause large and heavy build-ups on just about any roof. This build up causes two concerns among solar owners. Firstly, can solar panels withstand the weight of hundreds of pounds of snow?  Today’s solar panels are built with the highest quality materials and can hold several hundred pounds of pressure per square foot of panel. This means that your roof will likely break before your panels ever do due to snow or weight. The other concern that solar owners have when it comes to snow is panel absorption. When snow builds up over the surface of a panel, it naturally produces 20-30% less electricity. That is a massive amount of savings being lost, especially if you live in a place where it snows throughout the winter. Luckily, the surface of solar panels tends to heat up throughout the day. This causes any built-up snow to melt quickly and disappear throughout the day. In some locations, snow fall might be high enough that solar panels do not have enough time to melt all that snow buildup. In these locations, we suggest that homeowners buy the appropriate tools that allow them to safely remove excess snow from the solar panels. All in all, snow shouldn’t have a long-term impact on the effectiveness of your panels.

Hail

Hail can be devastating to cars, roofs, and just about anything else. So how do solar panels hold up against free falling ice balls? Until recently, solar panels had their troubles with surviving hailstorms. The speed and impact would cause the panel’s surfaces to crack and even shatter in some instances. Luckily, this damage has caused most solar manufacturers to rethink the design of modern solar panels. Solar panels now come reinforced with stronger aluminum frames and thicker tempered glass. This allows panels to absorb the impact of falling objects like hail better and distribute that force throughout the entire panel.

To prove solar panels’ large improvement, we can look at a hailstorm that occurred in Denver in 2017. In this storm, hailstones three inches wide fell from the sky for about half an hour. The National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) headquarters was in the middle of this massive storm. On their campus, they have a solar array that includes approximately 3,000 panels. Only one panel in the entire array suffered damage from the thirty minutes of massive hail. So, if you have any second thoughts of going solar because of hail, know that solar panel technology and durability is only getting better and better. In fact, many solar manufacturing companies are working on product tests that allow them to see how much damage their panels can take and make hail guarantees.

Hurricanes

In a category 5 hurricane, wind speeds can blow off roofs with gusts of over 152 miles per hour. At that wind speed, nothing stands much of a chance at surviving. However, solar panels have been designed to withstand high wind speeds and must be installed according to city roof standards. This means that before any system is energized it must be authorized and approved by a city representative. Solar panels should be installed so that they lay low and close to the homeowner’s roof. This means that properly installed panels should act as part of the roof, preventing any wind from going underneath the panels and causing a lift. Thus, the only way that wind could damage properly installed panels is if it damages the entire roof.

To illustrate this more clearly, we can take a look at the effects of Hurricane Sandy that ripped across New Jersey in 2012. New Jersey happens to be a top location for rooftop solar. Of the tens of thousands of residential solar systems that crossed paths with the hurricane, only a couple dozen sustained any damages. The majority of the damaged systems were not destroyed by the wind but by trees and power line poles falling on top of the systems. So naturally, solar owners can prepare for the worst when it comes to hurricanes, but they shouldn’t fear high wind speeds having any effect on their panels.

Other human factors

If a solar panel can withstand the tests of Mother Nature, it can most definitely withstand any human force. You might worry about a baseball being thrown by a neighborhood kid and hitting your panels, but like in the hailstorm, your solar panels should be able to withstand the impact of a speeding baseball. What if you accidentally step on your panels? Don’t worry, a single panel should be able to easily withstand the weight of 4 adults. With that being said, we don’t suggest that you purposefully step or jump on your panels. All in all, solar panels are built to last the test of time and withstand any external force with ease!

Going Solar with Blue Raven Solar

At Blue Raven Solar, we only use the highest quality and most durable panels. We also offer a production guarantee, a 10-year workmanship warranty, and a 25-year panel warranty. It is our objective to make going solar as simple and pain-free of an experience as possible. If you want to become a part of the Blue Raven Solar family and start saving big by going solar, click the link below and fill out a form to receive a free solar consultation. In this consultation, one of our solar specialists will walk you through a custom designed solar proposal for your home and give you an estimate of how much you can save a month by going solar!

If you liked this post, stay tuned for our upcoming post that will deep dive into the specific panels we use at Blue Raven Solar!

Sources:

https://www.usatoday.com/story/weather/2017/05/09/see-insane-scenes-wild…

https://rethinkelectric.com/how-durable-are-solar-panels

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