Solar power systems can make you energy independent and reduce your carbon footprint. But even the most durable solar panels can be vulnerable to extreme weather events like hurricanes.
If you live somewhere where hurricanes and tropical storms are a persistent hazard, you can take steps to preserve your solar power system and protect your home against them.
The steps below will help you prevent hurricane damage to your solar panels and keep them up and running even after the worst storms hit.
How Do You Protect Solar Panels From a Hurricane?
While your solar panel manufacturers design their arrays to endure the most inclement weather, a hurricane can pose unique problems. High winds, hail, excessive rain, and flying debris can all damage your PV panels.
Protecting your array can be as simple as folding up the panels and storing them inside if you have portable solar panels. But you’ll need to take action for solar systems with fixed panels to secure them from a hurricane.
The following steps can help you prepare and minimize the potential damage.
Before a hurricane arrives, take pictures of your solar panels and equipment. If the storm causes damage, the photos can help you establish your system’s condition for any insurance claims you need to file.
Power Your System Down
Next, you’ll want to power down the entire system and the electric supply going into your home or building. Disconnect the system at your switch, then shut off the circuit breakers.
Separating the components at each of these levels minimizes the risk of damage from a power surge during the hurricane.
Store System Equipment
Your tracking systems can create wind drag, or the wind can even catch and pull them loose. Move these systems into neutral positions, with modules stored according to the manufacturer’s instructions.
Seal All Components
Any crack in your solar power system creates an opportunity for extensive water damage during a hurricane. You should have your panels inspected regularly, but particularly before a predicted hurricane makes landfall. Small steps taken ahead of the storm can prevent seepage into your electrical components.
Make sure your clasps and fasteners are secure, especially if you have rigid solar panels. The attachments securing the array to the frame need double-checking.
This step can present challenges in areas you haven’t inspected for a while or where you may have current work underway. Your system’s installation should have followed strict protocols to secure your panels and wiring. Make sure they remain secure now.
You might not have a metal frame if you have flexible solar panels. Instead, installers use adhesive for the thin-film panels. You’ll want to check the adhesive every few months to ensure everything is firmly in place and won’t get torn away by high-speed winds.
Inspect Drainage Ditches and Gutters
Water seeping into a damaged panel isn’t the only way to sustain water damage. If your drainage areas are clogged or blocked, they can hold water that eventually seeps into your equipment. Ensure all these channels are clear for water to move away from the system.
Remove Loose Objects
Look for any loose tools or other objects near your solar panel installation. High winds can lift those objects and hurl them into your solar panels and other components of your solar array.
Recovering Your Solar Panels Post Hurricane
After a storm is over, inspect your panels. Look for signs of damage, whether in the form of cracked or broken panels or weakened mounting hardware. Take pictures of any damage you identify.
Solar panels can withstand a great deal of abuse. Sometimes heavy rainfall helps them operate more effectively by cleaning them off for you. But before you assume all is okay, you should look for movement or shifting of your installation or clear signs of damage to the panels and other components.
A professional inspection might turn up issues you didn’t see. Don’t count on a layperson’s eye to just give the panels a quick once over; consult with an expert to make sure you identify any problem areas to address after the storm.
Frequently Asked Questions
Should I Turn off Solar Panels During Hurricane?
Yes. Before the hurricane hits, take the time to turn your array off. When you disconnect the parts of your system from your home and the panels from each other, you protect yourself from power surges and other sources of electrical damage.
Do Solar Panels Get Damaged by Hurricanes?
Solar panels are designed to take a beating. Still, water entering the system or debris smashing into the panels can damage the panels both inside and out. Taking steps to protect the panels helps minimize those risks.
Hurricanes present the kind of threat that poses unique challenges for solar panels. The wind can cause some damage, but water damage and flying debris are the culprits when a system is compromised. Preparing your solar power system to protect against those issues can go a long way toward preserving your renewable energy investment.
EcoFlow solar panels are waterproof and ready to endure almost anything the weather can dish out. Follow the protective steps above, and your solar panel array should serve you for many years to come.