As solar energy grows popular, homeowners in hail-prone areas (like Calgary and Airdrie) may worry about potential damage. This blog discusses solar panels vs hail storms… their durability against hail, steps to mitigate risks, insurance considerations, and working with installers to ensure confidence in your solar investment.
With the increasing adoption of rooftop solar panels as a renewable energy source, many homeowners question their durability and resilience against severe weather events, especially hail. Hail poses a common concern due to the potential damage from intense impacts – especially for Calgary, where hailstorms are frequent during summer.
What are the risks of hail to solar panels – and how can you take the right steps to mitigate them? Let’s take a closer look and see how you can protect your solar investment for years to come.
Understanding Hail and Its Impact
We’ve all seen the damage that hail can cause – but why? Generally, hail forms when thunderstorm updrafts carry raindrops into extremely cold areas of the atmosphere, causing them to freeze into ice.
As more liquid water collides and adheres to the frozen droplets, they grow in size and weight until gravity pulls them to the ground as balls or irregularly shaped masses of ice.
This is where the problems can start. Hailstones typically range from pea-sized to around 2 inches in diameter on average. However, under certain severe conditions, hail can reach much larger sizes, with extreme cases over 5 inches reported.
The bigger they are, the harder they fall! Large hailstones can reach high velocities as they fall, with speeds over 100 km per hour possible. This combination of factors is what allows hail to cause extensive damage when it strikes.
For residential solar installations in Calgary and area, the potential clearly exists for major hailstorms to inflict harm – from surface scratches and cracks to structural panel damage from the intense high-speed impacts. However, modern solar panels are designed and tested to be far more durable than many homeowners realize.
Solar Panel Construction and Durability
The key component protecting solar panels is the tempered glass covering on the front surface. This glass is designed to be impact-resistant through extreme heating and rapid cooling, increasing strength. The result is a durable glazing that can withstand the beatings from hailstones.
Behind this glass lie the critical photovoltaic cells that convert sunlight into electricity. They are embedded and sealed between layers of plastic polymers, ethyl vinyl acetate, and tedlar. This robust laminate encapsulation gives structural integrity while protecting the cells from moisture and electrical shorts.
Together, the glass covering and laminate encapsulation enable solar panels to meet demanding standards for resilience against mechanical stress and impacts. Testing protocols require panels to suffer no major damage after impact tests involving steel balls dropped from over 1 meter high. Panels must also pass stringent sequences of cyclic stresses to validate their durability over decades in harsh environments.
With proper installation and maintenance, you can thus have confidence that modern solar panels are engineered to endure the harshest weather conditions. Hail up to 2 inches in diameter will typically leave no lasting damage. But what about more extreme hail?
Testing and Standards for Hail Resistance
Solar panels must meet strict impact testing protocols that simulate hailstorm conditions. This includes firing simulated hailstones of varying sizes at panels at high velocities from multiple angles. Panels must withstand these battering tests without penetration or compromising electrical safety systems.
Other tests drop heavy steel balls repeatedly on panels from heights over one meter to validate durability. Panels passing this intensive sequence show no cracks, delamination issues, or other visual flaws, proving their robust construction.
Reputable third-party organizations also provide ratings and certifications specifically concerning simulated hail impacts. Homeowners can look for panels carrying such credentials to have confidence in their resilience to real-world extreme weather.
Installation Angles and Hail Deflection
With regards to solar panels vs hail storms… proper installation is key to mitigating potential hail damage. The angle at which solar panels are mounted can significantly reduce the direct impacts of hailstones.
Experts generally recommend tilt angles between 10° to 30° to optimize solar collection and allow hail to deflect off the glass coverings at sharper trajectories. By contrast, horizontal or flat orientations allow hail to strike perpendicular to the surface, increasing the force of impact.
Small adjustments to orientation can be beneficial, such as facing panels a few degrees away from prevailing hail-bearing winds. In Calgary, angling northwest may provide some advantage over facing due south, for instance. This introduces a modest glancing effect, so hail strikes the surface more obliquely, reducing energy impacts.
Of course, optimal solar production is also crucial, so recommended tilt parameters should align both panel positioning needs with resilience to direct hailstone bombardment based on regional weather patterns. That’s why professional installation services always consider both factors when setting up solar panels.
Have Solar Power Questions? Trust Halat Electric!
If you have any further questions about the intricacies of solar panels vs hail storms in Alberta just reach out and ask us! Modern solar panels are remarkably durable against hail thanks to protective glass coverings, robust internal components, stringent impact testing, and proper installation angles.
However, risks can never be fully eliminated. No material is truly indestructible against the extremes of nature. That is why proactive measures are key for prevention and responsible management.
This includes working closely with reputable, experienced residential and commercial solar panel installers like Halat Electric, who stay current on the latest protections and best practices. This expertise can help you maximize solar panel resilience while tailoring solutions to local weather and climate factors.
For any questions regarding solar power solutions ideal for the Calgary environment, how to safeguard your system or general renewable energy services, contact the professionals at Halat Electric. Our team of dedicated solar specialists can provide recommendations tailored to your home and risk considerations while keeping you informed on the latest technology.
With knowledgeable consultation and quality installations, you can invest in solar energy with full confidence for sustainable, reliable power generation in the face of whatever weather comes our way.