Ask Our Experts

Answers to your questions about gardening, energy, homesteading and other sustainable living topics.

Add to My MSN

Can Solar Panels Be Damaged By Hail?

3/13/2009 12:00:00 AM

Tags: solar panels, solar

Can solar panels be damaged by hail?

While hail certainly could damage some types of solar panels, the likelihood is very small and occurrences are extremely rare. Many solar-electric modules and solar hot water collectors are made with tempered glass. Under standard test conditions they will withstand hail up to one inch in diameter, traveling at 50 miles per hour. Even in locations where larger hail does rarely occur, the hail is more likely to make a glancing blow to your array rather than a direct hit since panels are usually oriented at a tilt and facing south (in the northern hemisphere), which is most frequently not the prevailing direction for severe hail storms.

However, if you live in an area of the country where softball-sized hail is more common than in other areas and you are still a little nervous, you can make some further choices that will minimize your chances of damage. For solar electricity, consider using thin-film (or amorphous) photovoltaic panels. The substrate is a flexible plastic material and highly resistant to damage from rocks or hail. Any damage that does occur will not substantially affect the array’s performance. For solar hot water applications, flat plate panels or evacuated tube collectors can be mounted vertically on a south-facing wall where some shelter is afforded from the roof eave instead of the collectors being completely vulnerable on top of the roof.

In any case, damage to your solar equipment should be covered by your homeowner’s insurance policy, although you would be wise to review your policy’s coverage with your insurance agent in case you need to add a special endorsement.

— Linda Pinkham, former managing editor for Home Power Magazine

Related Content

The Gift of Solar Energy

Here are three of the season’s brightest and cleanest gifts for a greener holiday celebration.

Solar Panels Get a Make-Over

A new company has redesigned the typical shape of solar panels to be more three-dimensional.

Thinking About Thin-Film Solar

Let's take a trip back into the Mother Earth News archive to learn more about thin-film solar.

California Approves the Use of Dangerous Pesticide on Strawberry Fields

The California Department of Pesticide Regulation (DPR) has approved the use of methyl iodide, a pes...

Content Tools

Post a comment below.


Subscribe Today - Pay Now & Save 66% Off the Cover Price

First Name: *
Last Name: *
Address: *
City: *
State/Province: *
Zip/Postal Code:*
(* indicates a required item)
Canadian subs: 1 year, (includes postage & GST). Foreign subs: 1 year, . U.S. funds.
Canadian Subscribers - Click Here
Non US and Canadian Subscribers - Click Here

Lighten the Strain on the Earth and Your Budget

MOTHER EARTH NEWS is the guide to living — as one reader stated — “with little money and abundant happiness.” Every issue is an invaluable guide to leading a more sustainable life, covering ideas from fighting rising energy costs and protecting the environment to avoiding unnecessary spending on processed food. You’ll find tips for slashing heating bills; growing fresh, natural produce at home; and more. MOTHER EARTH NEWS helps you cut costs without sacrificing modern luxuries.

At MOTHER EARTH NEWS, we are dedicated to conserving our planet’s natural resources while helping you conserve your financial resources. That’s why we want you to save money and trees by subscribing through our earth-friendly automatic renewal savings plan. By paying with a credit card, you save an additional $5 and get 6 issues of MOTHER EARTH NEWS for only $12.00 (USA only).

You may also use the Bill Me option and pay $17.00 for 6 issues.