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Solar Systems and Extreme Weather

Solar Systems and Extreme Weather

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After investing a large sum of money in a quality solar array, one of your main concerns may be how your system will hold up in  harsh weather conditions.  While hail can certainly damage solar panels, the occurrence is very unlikely and rare.  Most solar panels and solar hot water collectors are manufactured with tempered glass, which is designed to withstand hail of up to one inch in diameter, traveling at 50 miles per hour.  Hail damage tends to be a very unlikely event due to the recommended south facing orientations and tilt angles of solar arrays.

Lightning and High Winds

Lightning strikes tend to damage inverters rather than solar panels, but can affect the entire system.  A quality lightning arrestor can save your solar power system from catastrophic failure, and are worth their weight in gold.  A  lighting arrestor works by absorbing and dissipating large amounts of current and voltage.  Simple to install, it is most likely the most inexpensive insurance policy you’ll ever buy.

High winds threaten to tear your solar panels from your roof, and should be considered when choosing mounting hardware.  Most racking manufacturers design mounting hardware that can withstand winds of up to 110 miles per hour.  Stronger mounts with higher wind ratings are also available and should be used on sites prone to high winds.

Snow Loads

If you’ve ever shoveled snow, you know just how heavy it can be.  Fortunately solar panel manufacturers design their modules to withstand static loads of up to 113 pounds per square foot (PSF), which is a lot of snow.  It is good practice to you keep your panels free of snow to maximize efficiency and keep snow loads in the acceptable range.  Some heat is generated when the dark color of the solar cells absorb solar radiation, yet for the most part this is not enough to melt moderate amounts of snow, and usually it’s not very sunny when it’s snowing. 


Most insurance companies provide coverage for solar installations against damage or theft.  Local climate factors such as hurricanes, and tornadoes will be the biggest influence affecting your premium. Some insurance providers justify higher premiums based on the increased value of the home or structure, while others are actually rewarding homeowners for going green.  Companies like the Lexington Insurance Company reward clients who install photovoltaic installations with a 2 to 3 percent discount on policies.

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