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Solar panels and hail storms

With significant hail storms occurring in Sydney (it seems) every other year, what are people’s stories around hail damage to solar panels? Are panels somewhat resilient to hail damage? Are they just as susceptible as anything else on a roof to hail, and if so then I should consider reducing my home insurance excess on the assumption I’ll most likely have to replace a panel or two after each huge hail storm?

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Yes, they should be able to withstand hail up to about 25-30mm. LG provides the following information about their resilence to weather…

https://www.lgenergy.com.au/faq/solar-panels/how-likely-is-it-that-solar-panels-could-be-damaged-by-hail-frost-or-extreme-heat

I also suspect that the aluminium frames around the glass panels are less robust than the panels themselves and more likely to be damaged/dented by hail.

You do raise a good point though, if one has solar panels on their roof, one should check that they are specifically covered and noted on their home insurance policy.

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As a general reply, from the US (NREL is a major US government lab)

With that, some panels are stronger or weaker than others just as some are more or less efficient, so best to look at the specs and tests conducted on your make and model panel.

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Damage from large hail stones may not be immediately apparent on PV panels. Micro cracks can form in the Silicon when the front glass is impacted, even if the glass itself is not broken. The micro cracks run hotter than the rest of the cell, and over time you’ll see patterns forming and decreased output until the affected cell fails, with a large decrease in output from the panel due to the serial connections of cells. This will affect the output of the whole string if using a string inverter. With micro inverters such as Enphase, output will only be reduced by the affected panels, the remainder producing as usual.

The flatter your PV array is mounted, the more prone it will be to damage, whereas tilted arrays significantly decrease the impact force of large hailstones, which fall near vertically, even in quite strong winds.

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Good info to be armed with. Thanks.

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Our panels survived the recent hail storm, we did get a hole in a nine year old whirlybird though.

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Our panels survived a massive Brisbane hailstorm in 2014 with no problems. We had hail bigger than golf balls and the panels are still going strong. Ours are mounted flush with the angle of the roof on our Queenslander.

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Good to hear. Thanks!

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We had hail 75mm to 100mm at least, solar PV panels don’t like it that big, smashed all 16PV’s, one glass panel on SolarHart and the Solar PV’s on my bore pump system you can fit a football through the holes/tears in the panels.

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Disheartening to see what can happen. I hope it has been replaced OK?

We had hail 25-50mm hit at the end of 2019. Several of the neighbours have had successful insurance claims to replace the roofing iron (colour bond). This had been due to denting from the impacts. Surprisingly our solar PV survived. The hail was on the upper size for the product specification.

Is there an issue with insurance?

None of the PV panels we considered were rated for hail in the 75-100mm size range. I had to go back nearly 100 years to find hail as large as 50mm being reported in the near area. Hopefully it will be another 100yrs to the next time.

P.S.
There are parts of our state (Qld) I would suggest are hail prone. I’d wonder what might be best if we lived in one of those areas and chose to install rooftop solar.

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We have lived in area of Yeppoon over 50yrs so Yes I hope it is a 100yr event, I don’t think you could afford Solar PV panels that could withstand this sort of hail, Our Insurance is still going through the assessment due to damage to House and 4 sheds.Blackwater got hit by servere Hail storm about 12yrs ago, nearly every roof had to be replaced, luckily before Solar PV’s were commonly available. One surprise was our nearly new NBN Fixed Wireless Antenna on the roof, can’t see a mark on it, our Foxtel 1.2m satelite dish has a slightly bent brace so you can build somethings to withstand this large hail.

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