Can solar panels break?

To the naked eye, solar panels appear susceptible to damage from low-impact collisions, but looks can be deceiving. Although the solar cells themselves are very fragile—in fact, they are only a few millimeters thick—the glass and frame that surrounds them is very sturdy and durable.

Solar panels are designed to endure even the most severe weather conditions. From 90+ mile per hour wind to medium sized tree limbs to golf ball sized (or larger) hail, solar panels have been specifically tested and designed to withstand any impacts. However, it is possible that breakages do happen.

What can break solar panels?

  • Use of cold water in hot weather & vice versa: Sudden temperature changes can cause fracturing in materials like glass. This phenomenon is called thermal down-shock. This happens when a rapid change in temperatures causes layers of glass to expand at different rates. This stress can crack the panels and destroy your solar cells.
  • Wind:
    • Wind speed, including wind gusts, can have physical impacts on solar panels. For example, if a solar PV system was not installed with the correct mounting equipment (e.g. rails, attachments, fasteners, etc.), high wind gusts can displace solar systems causing irreparable damage.
    • However, wind damage is rare. Solar power companies found that their customers` solar panels held up very well against Hurricane Sandy (max. wind speed of 115 mph) when it struck most of the eastern United States in October 2012.
  • Hail storm:
    • Solar panels are made with very durable tempered glass that is impact tested to withstand strikes of greater than 50 miles per hour.
    • Unusually large hail storms can indeed damage solar panels, but solar panels are designed and engineered to generally withstand hail the size of golf balls or smaller.
  • Tall trees near the rooftop installations can cause breakage when the branches fall directly over the panels
  • Lightning: Although miniscule, there certainly is a possibility that lightning can damage your solar panels. Proper grounding should be done as a precautionary measure, but there is not really anything we can do to protect ourselves 100% in the case of a lightning strike
  • Throwing objects like rocks or any heavy impact object can damage the panels. For instance throwing baseballs at the panels.
  • Acts of vandalism
  • Walking, standing, leaning or applying pressure on solar panels can also cause visible or non-visible damage to solar panels

Conclusion

Although many of today’s leading panels are designed for extreme weather conditions and impact resistance, this doesn’t mean they can withstand everything thrown at them. Solar panels are very durable; but we still recommend that you contact your insurance agent to ensure that your solar panels are covered by your home insurance policy as it is a good idea to make sure that investment is protected as much as possible.

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