What Happens To Solar Panels In A Hurricane?
Solar panels are no different from any other outdoor equipment in that they are constantly exposed to inclement weather — which for coastal residents means the risk of hurricane damage. When considering a solar investment, homeowners should be comforted to know that solar panels are one of the most resilient and reliable energy technologies on the market.
With winds reaching 160 miles per hour or higher, the threat of catastrophic damage from these storms can be staggering. For that reason, places that are most prone to the threat of hurricanes like municipalities in Florida and Texas, require solar installations to withstand these heavy winds. By setting a high standard, homeowners can have the peace of mind that their solar project is planned with hurricanes and high winds in mind.
Solar Panels are Built to Last
The result of higher build and resiliency standards has been proven methods for installation that can withstand high wind speeds and 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 greatly helps keep panels in place, and significantly reduces the risk of panels tearing pieces of roofs from homes.
Solar panels are also built tough to withstand the barrage of heavy rain or hail that accompanies a hurricane’s winds. 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.
Unfortunately, homeowners in recent years have faced numerous severe storms, including powerful hurricanes. In fact, data points to an increase in the average number of billion-dollar natural disasters impacting the U.S. each year — a number that is expected to climb.
Through the devastation, these storms have offered valuable insight into the ability of solar panels to weather storms.
When Hurricane Florence impacted the Carolinas in 2018, over 1 million people lost power, with thousands of residents on coal-fired utility facing outages weeks after the storm. Contrasted with solar installations, that 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 but reported 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 — an area not as accustomed to hurricanes as other coastal regions — in 2012.
Preparing for the Worst
While solar paneling is one of the most resilient energy technologies available, the threat of disaster from hurricanes or other powerful storms is always present. In fact, 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 for those considering a solar investment, or those looking to ensure their investment is protected as hurricane season approaches, is to speak directly with your insurance provider. Since no insurance plan or provider is the same, your agent will be able to provide the most accurate information and suggestions as related to your situation.
Investing in Quality Solar Panels
Much like other home improvement projects, the more you are willing to invest in quality from the start, the better return you’ll get on that investment. While solar panels are built to withstand the worst that Mother Nature can throw at them, opting for low-quality panels from inexperienced installers can result in increased risks of damage when storms come your way.
That’s why at Modernize, we pride ourselves on partnering with the industry’s top solar contractors and helping homeowners understand the cost of solar projects — helping you get the most for your investment while planning for the what-ifs associated with storm damage.
Contact us today to get solar installation quotes from trusted professionals, and know that when storm season comes, your home solar system will be prepared for the worst.