“HAIL” Yeah! – Hail Storms are No Match for Solar Panels

Nathan Billmaier Commercial Solar, Nonprofit Solar, Residential Solar

As you may recall (or may not want to recall), Denver and its surrounding suburbs were the victim of a massive storm earlier this year that catapulted “baseball” sized hail onto the city resulting in a record breaking 1.4 billion dollars in damages.

It shattered car windows, destroyed building roofs, tore apart trees, and wreaked havoc across the city’s landscaping. The storm left a costly and lengthy aftermath of repair that involved school closings, boarded business windows, and over 15,000 insurance claims. Solar panels were out in the fight that evening; exposed to the same treacherous conditions as our cars, homes, and yards. They fought back and we found hail storms of this massive size were no match for the panels’ durable technology.

Our own Golden, Colorado is home to the main campus of the National Renewable Energy Laboratory; and the laboratory itself, is home to a whopping 3,168 Solar Panels. The storm hit campus hard that day and left many employees with damaged car hoods and broken windows. The question pertinent to this blog, however, is how did those solar panels hold up?

Out of 3,168 Solar Panels, only ONE was damaged!

According to the Solar Energy Technologies Office Director for the Office of Energy Efficiency, Charlie Gay; the news wasn’t a total shock to NREL researchers. He goes on to say, “They (the researchers) work closely with the U.S. Department of Energy’s SunShot Initiative to improve the durability of solar modules. Included in the testing is the requirement to survive hail stone impact. In fact, the test requires shooting ping-pong-ball-sized ice balls at PV modules in multiple places at about 70 miles per hour. In the case of this hailstorm the one glass module cover that cracked was apparently simultaneously hit by a number of hailstones in almost the exact same place. This concentrated blow created a network of mico-cracks in the glass. Subsequent hailstones then left their “footprints” of impact in that web of small fractures, which tally to what appears to be more than three-dozen hits.”

Solar panels are one of the most durable and reliable energy technologies in the world and due to diligent testing by the US Department of Energy and other renewable energy industry leaders, you can feel safe knowing that your home can produce its own power even during event as epic as the hail storm we endured in May of this year.

For more information about hail storms and solar panels visit:

www.energy.gov/eere/articles/hail-no-national-labs-solar-panels-survive-severe-storm