For many potential solar customers living in coastal areas and islands of the United States, the issue of solar panels’ durability during natural disasters is a matter of course.
You should investigate whether such a large investment is worthwhile in extreme weather. With improvements in craftsmanship and materials, solar panels are better able to withstand extreme weather, including hail, sleet, snow, rain, YES—hurricanes.
When Is Hurricane Season in 2023?
The Atlantic hurricane season in 2023 began on June 1 and will end on November 30. The eastern Pacific hurricane season started on May 15 and will end on November 30 .
As of now, there have been 9 depressions, 9 storms, and 1 hurricane in the Atlantic basin. The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) predicts that there will be a total of 12 to 17 named storms, of which 5 to 9 will become hurricanes.
The following table shows the percentage chance of a U.S. state experiencing a hurricane or tropical storm during each month of the Atlantic hurricane season, from June to November 1. The data is based on the period from 1851 to 2015.
|Massachusetts||0 %||0 %||1 %||5 %||4 %||0 %|
|Mississippi||2 %||4 %||9 %||13 %||7 %||1 %|
Solar panels can survive extreme winds, but debris gets in the way
All solar panels, regardless of brand, style, shape, or material, can withstand high winds to some extent. Generally speaking, most solar panels can withstand winds of up to 140 mph, which is about 2,400 Pascals (a unit of measure for a solar panel’s wind resistance). That’s enough to withstand hurricanes with wind speeds ranging from 130 to 130 to Category 4. 156 mph.
Because these solar PV panels are specifically designed to withstand the highest possible hurricane-strength winds. Also, they are raised so less debris affects the panels. Any ground-mounted solar PV panels or below-ground rooftop solar panels didn’t perform as well.
Solar PV panels are designed and manufactured from materials that can withstand more extreme conditions. So while the industry is not prepared for every weather scenario, we strive to be more resilient every year.
Rain washes away dirt to benefit solar panels
We’ve talked about wind speed, but what about water hitting solar panels at top speed? Waterproof solar panel. They can withstand thunderstorms for many years.
In almost all cases, rain greatly benefits solar panels. Climbing onto the roof to wash off the dirt, grime, and pollen that has built up on the array isn’t easy (we don’t recommend this, by the way!).
These particles prevent sunlight from reaching the power-generating materials beneath the protective top layer. That’s why rainwater is so important: Regular showers clean the solar panels so they can run at maximum efficiency.
What should you do before a hurricane?
Preparing for a hurricane is crucial to ensuring your safety and minimizing potential damage to your property, including solar panels. Here are the recommended steps to take before a hurricane:
Secure Loose Items: Remove or secure any objects around your property that could become projectiles during strong winds, potentially causing damage to your solar panels or other parts of your home.
Document Condition: As mentioned, take photos of your solar panels and the entire solar installation. This documentation will serve as evidence of their pre-storm condition, which can be useful for insurance claims.
Review Manufacturer Guidelines: Check your solar panel manufacturer’s guidelines for preparing your panels for extreme weather. Some panels might have specific recommendations for securing or protecting them.
Lightning Protection: If you live in an area prone to lightning strikes, consider investing in a lightning protection system for your home. This can help prevent direct lightning strikes from damaging your solar panels and electrical equipment.
Unplug or Disconnect: If your solar system allows for it and it’s safe to do so, you may consider disconnecting your solar panels from the grid before the storm to avoid any potential electrical surges or issues.
Check Insurance and Warranty: Review your solar panel warranty and your homeowner’s insurance policy. Ensure you understand what is covered in terms of storm damage, and consider contacting your insurance provider if you have any questions.
Backup Power: If you have a solar battery storage system, make sure it’s fully charged. This will give you access to backup power during and after the storm.
Shut Down System: If you’re unable to disconnect your solar panels from the grid, shut down your solar system according to the manufacturer’s guidelines to prevent any electrical issues during the storm.
Board Up Windows and Doors: Protect the entire structure of your home, including the solar installation, by boarding up windows and doors as needed to prevent wind-driven rain from causing damage.
Evacuate if Necessary: If authorities issue evacuation orders, prioritize your safety and follow their instructions. Property can be repaired or replaced, but lives cannot.
Emergency Kit: Prepare an emergency kit with essential supplies such as water, non-perishable food, medications, flashlights, batteries, first aid supplies, and important documents.
Stay Informed: Keep a battery-powered weather radio or stay updated through your smartphone for the latest information about the hurricane’s track and intensity.
Remember that safety should always be your top priority. Taking these precautions can help protect your solar panels and property, but your personal well-being should come first. After the storm has passed and it’s safe to do so, you can assess any damage and proceed with necessary repairs and insurance claims.
What should you do after a hurricane?
First, make sure you and your family are safe and sound. However, as far as the safety of your solar panels goes, do a visual inspection and make sure everything is in order.
After a hurricane has passed, ensuring the safety of yourself, your family, and your property remains the top priority. Once you have confirmed your safety, you can take the following steps to assess the condition of your solar panels and address any damage:
Safety First: Before inspecting your property, ensure that the area is safe. Watch out for downed power lines, debris, and other hazards.
Assess General Damage: Check your home and surroundings for damage. This will give you an overall picture of the severity of the storm’s impact.
Visual Inspection: Examine your solar panels for any visible damage. Look for broken panels, detached parts, cracks, or significant debris accumulation. Take photos of any damage for insurance claims.
Disconnect or Turn Off System: If your solar panels were not disconnected before the storm, follow the manufacturer’s guidelines to properly shut down the system to prevent electrical hazards.
Check Wiring and Connections: Inspect the wiring and connections of your solar panels for any signs of damage or exposure. Damaged wiring should be repaired or replaced by a qualified professional.
Contact Your Installer: If you notice any damage to your solar panels, contact your solar panel installer or a professional technician who specializes in solar systems. They can provide a more detailed assessment and recommend the necessary repairs.
Review Your Warranty and Insurance: Review your solar panel warranty and homeowner’s insurance policy to understand what is covered and what steps you need to take to file a claim. Contact your insurance provider to initiate the claims process if necessary.
Document Damage: Keep a detailed record of the damage, including photos, videos, and written descriptions. This documentation will be crucial for insurance claims.
Emergency Repairs: If you’re capable of making minor repairs safely, you can do so to prevent further damage. However, major repairs should be left to professionals.
Be Patient: After a major storm, there might be a high demand for repair services. Be patient as you wait for professionals to assess and repair the damage to your solar panels.
Consider Upgrades: If your solar panels were significantly damaged and are nearing the end of their useful life, this might be an opportunity to consider upgrading to more efficient or resilient panels.
Stay Informed: Continue to monitor weather and safety updates as the recovery process takes place.
Remember that safety is paramount during the post-hurricane period. Always prioritize your well-being and the well-being of your family and neighbors. When in doubt, seek professional assistance to ensure that your solar panels are properly inspected and repaired.
Solar panels are built strong to withstand all kinds of weather conditions. In hurricane-prone areas, home solar arrays must meet requirements to survive at least 160 mph winds; solar installers use high-quality racking and roof attachments to meet these requirements.
If your solar panels are damaged by a storm, your homeowners’ insurance will likely cover the repairs; don’t go near them until an electrician checks them first. If you want to keep the lights on if the grid goes down, you’ll need to add a battery backup system.