Living in a hurricane-prone area can raise concerns about the durability of your solar panels. After all, hurricanes can generate wind speeds exceeding 160 miles per hour, causing significant damage to structures and property. However, the good news is that solar panels are designed to withstand extreme weather conditions, including hurricane-force winds.
Solar Panels: Built to Withstand the Storm
Solar panels are engineered to endure harsh weather conditions, such as rain, snow, hail, and hurricanes. They are tested to withstand wind forces up to 2,400 pascals, which is approximately 140 miles per hour. The casings of solar panels are also highly waterproof, ensuring their resilience even under extreme rain and wind conditions.
When solar panels are installed, they are secured to your roof using long, sturdy lag bolts that attach the racking directly to your rafters. This strong connection between your roof and the solar power system ensures that as long as the roof stays attached to your house, your solar panels should survive a hurricane.
Real-World Resilience: Solar Panels vs. Hurricanes
Several instances demonstrate the resilience of solar panels during hurricanes:
Hurricane Sandy (2012): Despite the devastation caused by Hurricane Sandy in New Jersey, solar installations in the state suffered little to no damage.
Hurricane Maria (2017): A VA hospital in San Juan, Puerto Rico, had a 645 kilowatt (kW) solar array that continued working at 100% capacity, even after being exposed to 180 MPH winds.
Hurricane Florence (2018): In North Carolina, solar panels owned by Duke Energy were back to producing power the day after the storm, while some fossil-fuel plants were shut down for weeks due to flooding and damage.
Hurricane Ian (2022): Babcock Ranch in eastern Florida, which is powered by more than 700,000 solar panels, suffered no loss of power and minimal damage, despite the storm uprooting trees and tearing shingles from roofs.
Preparing for a Hurricane: Tips for Homeowners
While solar panels are designed to withstand severe weather conditions, there are steps you can take as a homeowner to protect your solar power system before and after a hurricane:
Secure Potential Projectiles: Remove and store anything in your yard that could become a projectile during a hurricane, such as picnic tables, chairs, or toys.
Regular Maintenance Checks: Schedule regular maintenance checks on your solar panels to identify and fix any issues before they become significant problems.
Insurance Coverage: Add your solar panel system to your homeowner's insurance policy. Ensure your insurance covers natural disasters and that you understand how to make a claim.
Photographic Evidence: Keep up-to-date photos of your solar panels for insurance purposes.
Lightning Protection: Consider installing a lightning protection system for your home to prevent damage to your solar panels and your home's electrical equipment from lightning strikes.
Post-Hurricane Inspection: After a hurricane, inspect your solar power system for any damages. If necessary, contact your solar panel company to schedule a professional evaluation.
The Bottom Line: Solar Panels and Hurricanes
Solar panels are designed to withstand extreme weather conditions, including hurricanes. However, it's essential to take proactive steps to protect your investment. Regular maintenance, proper insurance coverage, and post-hurricane inspections can ensure your solar power system continues to operate optimally, even after a hurricane. If you're considering installing solar panels, it's crucial to work with a professional solar company that understands the specific needs and challenges of installing solar panels in hurricane-prone areas.