How resistant are solar panels installed at your roof to hurricane force winds?
One of the question many people would like to ask is: will a hurricane destroy solar panel arrays if they were set up for example in south Florida, Louisiana or other places where hurricanes and typhoons are a common phenomenon.
To answer this we must make difference between the several aspects to survivability in hurricane force winds:
- The strength and stability of the supporting structure (not always a house by the way) is crucial.
- The design of the connections of the panels to their structure needs to withstand all likely loads – wind loads being the greatest in most cases.
- The physical strength of the panel frame itself, which may vary with market and manufacture.
- Most damage in high wind events is actually caused by debris impact – when the neighbor’s refrigerator collides with your solar array at 75 mph there is going to be some carnage!
- Assuming the panel array and electronics survive the hurricane – this means that there is live and potentially lethal current in a location where most of the main power is likely shut down or taken out, so rescue and emergency services personnel (as well as property owners) need to be extra vigilant as they go about their duties after an event.
- Building codes in areas prone to severe storms need to (and typically do) address the issue of minimizing building components becoming projectiles in high winds.
- Solar panels affixed to a structure are no different to any other building element – they need to safely withstand all loads likely to act upon them.
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