Depending on the region we live in, our homes can be susceptible to hurricanes. The damage and devastation brought on by a hurricane is often immeasurable. Solar panels, like everything else, may also be at the mercy of a hurricane if it hits your area. But they are not so fragile to be damaged by hurricane winds. In fact, solar panels are extremely durable and have withstood not only testing in laboratory conditions, but real-life hurricanes as well.
There are many measures put in place to ensure that solar panels are hardy and can put up a fight against the worst of storms. Incidences over the past few years such as Superstorm Sandy and Hurricane Irma have also provided us with more valuable data about the tenacity of these solar panels. Indeed, solar panels are a rugged and viable option for generating electricity for your home, business, or city, even in the aftermath of the storm.
Understanding The Risks
While flooding remains the biggest cause of damage by hurricanes to solar panels and all other property, the next largest key factor is wind damage from the high speed winds that come with the storm. These winds often move in different directions too, as the hurricane often does not stay in one spot. As many solar panels are installed on roofs, slightly above the roof surface, one of the main types of wind damage comes from a force called uplift, which is where the wind blows in the space between the roof and the panels.
However, service providers are keenly aware of this issue and ensure that solar panels are fastened securely to the roof beams with large lag bolts, which prevents the panels from being torn off the roof by strong winds due to uplift or other wind forces, as long as the roof itself is well built and maintained, and barring roof damage or collapse.
Performance In Tests And Real World Situations
Manufacturers of solar products do rigorous testing on the panels prior to approving them for the market. The panels would usually come with a certification that they can withstand winds of up to 140 miles per hour, which is the equivalent of a Category 4 hurricane with average wind speeds of 130 to 156 miles per hour.
Reports on solar panels which were affected by real life hurricanes Superstorm Sandy (2012), Hurricane Michel (2016) and Hurricane Irma (2017) show that nearly all panels were still intact and functioning despite the strong winds, with only a few individual panels completely unusable from wind damage. Other losses came from the destruction of the whole roof or building structure, not from winds. In cases where an individual inverter was available for the building, power was immediately restored as soon as the inverter was plugged in. Furthermore, at least one municipality used solar power for traffic lights until power was restored.
Find out more about installing solar panels for your home or business with GenRenew.