Hail is a form of solid precipitation that consists of balls or lumps of ice called hailstones.
Hailstones are formed when water droplets are carried upward by strong winds in thunderstorms and freeze into ice crystals.
Hailstones can vary in size from a pea to a grapefruit and can fall at speeds up to 100 miles per hour.
Hailstorm is a potential threat to solar panels because it can cause physical damage to the glass, frame, or cells of the panels and reduce their efficiency and longevity.
How common and severe is hail damage to solar panels?
Hail damage to solar panels is not very common but can be very severe depending on the circumstances. According to a study by the National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL), the probability of hail damage to a photovoltaic (PV) system is below 0.05% (or less than one in every 2,500 installations).
However, this does not mean that hail damage is impossible or negligible. There have been cases where large hailstones have cracked or shattered solar panels in some regions, such as Texas,Colorado or Nebraska.
The severity of hail damage depends on several factors, such as:
• The size, speed, and angle of hailstones: Larger, faster, and more oblique hailstones can cause more damage than smaller, slower, and more vertical ones.
• The type, quality, and orientation of solar panels: Monocrystalline or polycrystalline silicon panels are more resistant than thin-film panels; higher-quality panels are more durable than lower-quality ones; south-facing or west-facing panels are more exposed than north-facing or east-facing ones.
• The duration and frequency of hailstorms: Longer-lasting or more frequent hailstorms can increase the risk of cumulative or repeated damage.
How to detect and assess hail damage to solar panels?
Hail damage to solar panels can be visible or invisible. Visible damage includes cracks,dents,scratches,or shatters on the glass,frame,or cells of the panels.
Invisible damage includes microcracks,delamination,or corrosion on the internal components of the panels.
Hail damage can affect the performance and lifespan of solar panels by reducing their power output,efficiency,and reliability.
To detect and assess hail damage to solar panels,you should:
• Inspect your solar panels visually after a hailstorm and look for any signs of damage on the surface or edges of the panels.
• Test your solar panels electrically by measuring their voltage,current,and power output and comparing them with their normal or expected values.
• Contact your solar panel manufacturer,installer,or service provider and request a professional inspection or evaluation of your panels.
How to claim warranty or insurance for hail damage to solar panels?
Warranty and insurance are two different ways to cover the cost of repairing or replacing hail-damaged solar panels.
Warranty is a guarantee from the solar panel manufacturer or installer that they will fix or replace any defective or damaged panels within a certain period of time and under certain conditions.
Insurance is a contract from an insurance company that they will reimburse you for any loss or damage to your solar panels caused by certain events, such as hailstorms.
To claim warranty or insurance for hail damage to solar panels, you should:
• Check your warranty and insurance policies and understand their terms, conditions, and exclusions.
Not all warranties and insurances cover hail damage or cover it fully. You should also know the deadlines, procedures, and requirements for filing a claim.
• Document and report the hail damage as soon as possible.
You should take photos or videos of the hailstones and the damaged panels, record the date and time of the hailstorm, and obtain a weather report or a hail verification report from a reliable source.
You should also contact your warranty or insurance provider and notify them of the damage and your intention to file a claim.
• Follow the instructions from your warranty or insurance provider and submit the necessary documents and evidence to support your claim.
You may also need to arrange for an inspection or appraisal of your panels by an authorized representative of your provider.
You should also keep copies of all the communications and receipts related to your claim.
How to prevent or mitigate hail damage to solar panels?
There are some measures that you can take to prevent or mitigate hail damage to solar panels, such as:
• Choose high-quality and durable solar panels that can withstand hail impact.
Solar panels are tested and certified by standards organizations, such as the International Electrotechnical Commission (IEC) or Underwriters Laboratories (UL), to resist hailstones up to 1 inch (25 mm) in diameter at 50 miles per hour (80 km/h).
You should look for solar panels that have these certifications or higher ratings.
• Install your solar panels at an optimal angle and location that minimize their exposure to hail.
The ideal angle and location depend on your geographic location, roof shape, and sun orientation.
Generally, steeper angles and south-facing or west-facing orientations are better than flatter angles and north-facing or east-facing orientations.
• Protect your solar panels with covers or shields that can deflect or absorb hail impact.
There are various types of covers or shields available, such as mesh screens, polycarbonate sheets, metal grates, or foam pads.
However, you should be careful not to reduce the sunlight reaching your panels or interfere with their ventilation.
• Inspect and clean your solar panels regularly and remove any dirt, dust, debris, or snow that may accumulate on them.
This can help prevent any scratches or cracks that may weaken the glass or reduce the efficiency of the panels.
• Repair or replace your solar panels promptly if they are damaged by hail. You should not ignore any minor damage that may worsen over time or affect the performance of your system.
You should also not attempt to fix the damage yourself if you are not qualified or experienced.
You should contact your manufacturer, installer, or service provider and seek their advice or assistance.
Hail can damage solar panels by creating both visible and invisible damage to the glass,frame,or cells of the panels.
Hail damage can reduce the performance and lifespan of solar panels and increase the cost of maintenance or replacement.
However,hail damage is not very common or severe in most regions and most solar panels are designed
and tested to withstand hail impact.
You can also prevent or mitigate hail damage by choosing high-quality and durable solar panels, installing them at an optimal angle and location,protecting them with covers or shields,inspecting and cleaning them regularly,and repairing or replacing them promptly.
You can also claim warranty or insurance for hail damage if you have valid policies and follow the proper procedures.
Q: How common is hail damage to solar panels?
A: Hail damage to solar panels is not very common but can happen in some regions that experience large hailstorms, such as Texas[^1^