Can Solar Panels Be Damaged By Hail

Can Solar Panels Be Damaged By Hail

Hailstorms are common in some parts of the world. For instance weather in Colorado is erratic is an understatement. The state enjoys three hundred days of sunshine, but for the rest of the year, the citizens feel the world is coming to an end. Every year the province experience heavy downpour clapping, thunder, and hailstorm. The homeowners with solar panels ask can solar panels be damaged by hail. Yes, if the solar panels are not properly installed, hails can damage solar panels, but most insurance premiums cover it. 

1 out of 3168

The Front Range experienced a strong hailstorm in May 2017. The forceful hailstorm extensively damaged the Colorado Mills Mall; the store was closed for a year. The National Renewable Energy Lab (NREL) is located a stone`s throw from the Mall. Only one out of the three thousand one hundred sixty-eight solar panels was destroyed. During the storm, power generation was significantly decreased, but once it passed over, power generation was regained. This incident is authentication of modern solar power technology. The modern solar panels are lab tested, and certified ones can withstand 25mm (one inch) in span up to a speed of 23 meters per second, approximately 50miles per hour.  

When hails above the size of 25mm diameter size at great ferocity hits a solar panel, it can damage its functionality and warranty. The inbuilt photovoltaic cells within the panel are vulnerable to external force as they are not shielded by any plastic or glass cover. For this reason, modern solar panels are covered by glass or plastic to protect them from hail. The protective cover can decrease the electricity output by blocking sunlight on the solar cells.

IEC

The solar panels that pass the minimum impact test by the International Electrotechnical Commission (IEC) can withstand the onslaught of hails. Under a monitored condition, 25mm hails are shot at panels from eleven different positions at a speed of 23 meters per second. The panel is certified if the glass does not crumble and power output does not drop by 5%. Furthermore, the module needs to pass the wet leakage test. The IEC has more vigorous testing methods where larger hail is shot at solar panels at greater speed, but as it is not mandatory, manufacturers are not willing to face this stringent test.

Financial Damage 

A severe and very severe hailstorm of 51mm or greater can gravely damage a solar project. Severe to very severe hailstorms are becoming common in certain parts of the US. A 178 MW solar project in Pecos, Texas very severe hailstorm of 51mm or greater, incurred a financial loss of $75 million due to a very severe hailstorm of 51mm or greater. Due to this incident, the insurance premium for solar projects was raised by 20 to 40%.

Steps to Minimize 

Install a solar module with a higher IEC standard. Hail-resistant solar panels command higher prices and different warranty terms. More vertical position installation with a single axis tracker can reduce the hail impact as the hails land at a slanted angle rather than hitting it directly. Some solar panels come with a warranty that covers breakage or leakage due to hailstorms.  

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