One of the issues that most concern users with solar panels or those who think about making an installation in their home are the useful life of the solar panels and whether they adequately resist the passage of time and adverse weather conditions. This article aims to help you clarify all your doubts regarding hail and solar panels and how it affects them. We recommend that you continue reading to solve all your questions.
Solar panels and hail
One of the most common problems that solar panels usually suffer is microcracks on the surfaces of the silicon crystal. These can be produced during the time of manufacture, but also by poor transport or during installation. It is less common for it to occur in other circumstances but not impossible – especially in the case of low-quality solar panels. Exposure to the elements, as well as temperature changes and tensions between cold and heat, can cause cracks to increase in size, which can ultimately have an impact on a loss of efficiency.
Given the question of solar panels, hail, and how the latter affects photovoltaic cells, it is essential to make it clear that this can affect solar panels, although not in all cases. In general, the usual photovoltaic solar panels usually withstand a usual hailstorm; however, if the hailstones are of exceptionally large size, they may end up fracturing the crystals.
What are hail-resistant solar panels?
Hail-resistant solar panels are made to withstand the impact of these small ice stones. When buying a solar panel, especially in areas where the weather is more variable and the temperature colder, we recommend that you opt for hail-resistant solar panels. These quality panels are IEC 61215 certified. It sets out the requirements that solar panels must overcome to be suitable for long-term operation in outdoor climates in general. Specifically, it is one of the most used certificates in Europe that guarantee the passing of tests such as the launching of large ice balls without this influencing the degradation of the plate – or at least in a limited way.
The test, in particular, consists of throwing a 203-gram ice ball at a speed of 39.5 m/s. In addition, the test certifies that the damage suffered by the solar panels is less than 5% – essential to have such certification. Most manufacturers usually pass this type of test without problems, which is why it is not so complex to find hail-resistant solar panels. When talking about hail and solar panels and how they affect them, it is crucial to consider this type of test and all the available certificates. Manufacturers usually guarantee maximum quality when marketing their products, although, as we said, not all brands are the same or offer the same quality.
Hail, solar panels and quality
One of the most famous cases about the resistance of solar panels to hail
A few years ago, we found one of the most notorious cases in terms of the resistance of solar panels to hail. It was in 2017 when Lakewood (Colorado, United States) experienced one of the largest hailstorms so far. The storm knocked down the city, shattering cars and windows and causing numerous injuries to people and animals, even ruining the Colorado Mills Mall with ice balls that exceeded 12 centimeters. The curious thing was that a few kilometers away was (and still is) the photovoltaic park of the National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NRELL). The ravages of the storm only affected one of the 3168 photovoltaic panels. Although the affected panel was destroyed, the plant continued to operate without any problems once the storm passed.
The truth is that the solar panels that are built today are increasingly resistant and are designed to withstand inclement weather, as is the case with hailstorms. Of course, the magnitude of the hailstorm influences since no facility could withstand a hailstorm like the one experienced in 1970. That broke a record with ice stones up to 15 centimeters in diameter. In any case, you should know that most hailstorms do not usually pose a severe threat to solar panels.
Does the warranty protect my solar panel against hail?
In general, the warranty of solar panels does not usually cover the breakage of solar panels due to hail. However, everything depends on the brand and the type of guarantee you have – it also influences whether you have insurance or not. Keep in mind that the solar panel warranty offered by the manufacturer covers all manufacturing errors and defects, such as rust, failures in solar cells, or drops in the maximum power below 80% – which implies that there is some failure in the system. In general, the warranty of solar panels usually covers up to the first ten years. However, it is essential to pay attention to the specifications of each brand, as well as the exclusions, since in some cases, we can find specific messages that indicate the exclusions for damages derived from lightning, frost, snow, storms, waves, extreme heat, and even hail. The same also happens in significant damages such as earthquakes, typhoons, volcanic eruptions, and other problems. The most advisable, always, is to inform yourself of the guarantee of the manufacturer brand calmly.