Can Solar Panels Survive Bad Weather?

By | August 31, 2013

If you live an area that has weather extremes, you may be wondering if solar panels are reasonable for your home.  After all, snow and ice storms, tornadoes, hurricanes and hail take their toll on regular roofs every year.  Would it really make sense to install solar panels on a roof that has to withstand those kinds of weather extremes?  Here a few facts that will help you decide.

It makes sense to be concerned about hail or wind damage to the glass that encapsulates the solar cells and allows them to have exposure to the sun.  But the solution is to make sure that the solar panels you use are made with high impact tempered glass.  Good quality solar panels are manufactured with glass that can maintain its integrity during 60 miles per hour storms dropping 3/4″ hail.  So they will typically withstand conditions that are similar to what your roofing material will tolerate.

Before your solar panels are installed, the contractor must ensure that the roof itself is able to support the weight of the solar panel arrays.  Once that is established and the solar panels are attached to the roof, they should be able to remain solidly in place.  In the case of a tornado or hurricane, your solar panels will typically stay attached to your roof.  The only way you would lose them is if the roof itself comes off.

In areas where there is heavy snowfall, snow may cover the solar panels and block them from receiving sunlight.  In that case, they cannot produce electricity and it will be necessary to brush off the snow.  But the panels themselves will not be damaged by a heavy snowfall.

The bigger concern would be that the roof itself may not be able to withstand the weight of a heavy, wet snowfall.  In that case, it would be wise to shovel the roof as well as remove the snow from the solar panels.  But in the case of a light snow, the heat retained by the solar panels is usually enough to melt off the snow and keep them clean.

As a final point, check with your homeowner’s insurance policy.  Solar panels are usually included in the coverage at no additional cost.  If not, consider changing to a policy that will provide adequate coverage.


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