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Solar Resources

What Happens To Solar Panels In A Hurricane?

Solar panels are constantly exposed to inclement weather. For coastal residents, that means the risk of hurricane damage. Good news: solar panels are one of the most resilient and reliable energy technologies on the market.

However, winds in these storms can reach 160 miles per hour or higher. Places that are most prone to the threat of hurricanes, like municipalities in Florida and Texas, require solar installations to withstand them. Here’s how to ensure your solar project is planned with storms in mind.

Storm looms over solar panels

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Solar Panels are Built to Last

There are proven methods for for installing solar panels that can withstand high wind speeds. They keep solar panels in place, even during the worst storms. These methods include, among other things, mounting panels in place using heavy bolts screwed directly in roof beams. This significantly reduces the risk of panels tearing pieces of roofs from homes.

Solar panels are also built tough to withstand heavy rain or hail. Additionally, the aluminum and glass casings that hold solar cells are highly waterproof, even in the most extreme conditions.

Beyond the quality build of products, the solar industry has a vested interest in ensuring its products are designed to last. For that reason, there are numerous organizations within the industry working to make solar panels more durable and resilient, while keeping costs at a minimum. One such group, the Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy’s Solar Energy Technologies Office, has worked for nearly a decade on research, development, and implementation of improved solar technologies — including weather resiliency.

2022 Homeowner Storm Guide

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Hurricane Tested

Unfortunately, data points to an increase in the average number of billion-dollar natural disasters impacting the U.S. each year. And that number is expected to climb.

Through the devastation, these storms have offered insight into how solar panels weather storms.

When Hurricane Florence impacted the Carolinas in 2018, over 1 million people lost power. Thousands of residents on coal-fired utilities faced outages weeks after the storm. Solar installations were operational the day after the storm. Duke Energy — the region’s primary utility provider — reported half of their customers were without power at some point due to the storm. However, they also reported there was no damage to their solar farms.

Similar scenarios were seen in the aftermaths of Hurricane Michael, which hit the Florida panhandle in 2018, and Hurricane Sandy, which impacted New Jersey in 2012. 

Preparing for the Worst

While solar paneling is resilient, one of the most common causes of solar panel damage is from falling debris, which can be more prevalent during a hurricane.

Thankfully, most home insurance plans cover rooftop solar panels, as it is considered a permanent attachment to your home. However, certain systems — such as ground mount panels or solar carports — might require a supplemental policy or an add-on to your existing policy.

As with any home investment, an increase in coverage limits might also protect you from headaches down the road if storm damage should occur.

The best option is to speak directly with your insurance provider. No insurance plan or provider is the same. Your agent will provide the most accurate information and suggestions for your situation. 

Investing in Quality Solar Panels

Like other home improvement projects, the more you invest in quality from the start, the better return you’ll get. Solar panels are built to withstand the worst that Mother Nature can throw at them. But opting for low-quality panels from inexperienced installers can result in increased risks of damage when storms come your way.

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