Solar Panels and High Wind

November 18, 2015

With zero moving parts, solar photovoltaic (PV) panels are one of the most durable energy generation technologies known to man. With minimal upkeep, your installation can continue operating at peak performance for decades. In fact, many solar installations from the 1970s are still generating clean, free energy for their owners.

So solar is durable but is it durable enough to withstand extreme weather conditions like high wind?

When our Seattle area is hit by heavy rain and high wind, which is not uncommon here in the Northwest by any means, many people with solar panels on the roofs of their homes begin to feel a bit anxious.  Are you one of those people?  Do you wonder if your home’s solar panels will survive the storm? 

The crystalline cells that make up most solar panels are actually quite fragile. Left exposed, they crack easily and can dramatically reduce the total power output of your system.

However, todays high quality solar PV panels usually come equipped with laminate, glass, or acrylic casing to protect the crystalline cells underneath. Under test conditions, these protected panels can withstand high velocity hail pellets shot from pneumatic guns.

Fortunately, solar panels don’t usually take direct hits from falling debris. Due to the tilted angles of standard roof- and ground-mounted solar PV installations, most impacts are glancing blows.

Today’s top solar panels are tested for wind speeds in excess of 145 mph. According to the National Weather Service, a storm like Hurricane Sandy received 90 mph winds.  Even the severest of storms in our area would rarely have wind speeds to match this.

Although many of today’s leading panels are designed for extreme weather conditions, this doesn’t mean they can withstand everything Mother Nature throws at them. Proper mounting and racking are essential. This is especially true in the Pacific Northwest where we can receive high velocity winds during the winter season.  This is why it is so important for your solar panel installation be done by an experienced technician.  Solar panel installation is not a weekend, DIY type of project or a Craigslist handyman job!  To trust that your home’s PV panels are mounted correctly and according to the manufacturer’s installation protocols and backed by the warranty, contact us at NW Mechanical to schedule your installation.

The bottom line is: solar panels, mounted correctly by a reputable and experienced technician, are very durable and can withstand severe wind and harsh winter weather.  And, as an added benefit, PV panels can actually make your roof stronger.  

Contact us with any of your questions about home solar energy, heating or cooling needs.

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