With a push toward green energy, countries like the US, Canada, and much of the European Union are encouraging people to install solar panels on homes for energy and heating. While solar power is cost-effective in the long run and incredibly sustainable, you worry about solar panels in hurricanes. Do they blow off houses during storms?
Solar panels don’t blow off in hurricanes and tend to do very well in other forms of extreme weather, but only if they are installed in accordance with local codes and regulations surrounding the max speed wind requirements and mounting strength.
While solar panels can do okay in hurricanes, they sometimes fare differently. Every property has many variables and is a different/separate case.
Solar panels must meet many requirements, and it’s essential to understand the rules before installing the devices. This article will discuss how solar panels do in hurricanes, including what winds they can survive.
Table of Contents
- Solar Panels in Hurricanes: What To Expect and How To Prepare
- How To Prepare Solar Panels in Hurricanes
- How To Address Solar Panel Damage
- The Ultimate Test – My Own Story of Solar Panels During Hurricane Ian
- Solar Panels in Hurricanes: The Regulations by State
- Final Thoughts
Solar Panels in Hurricanes: What To Expect and How To Prepare
To understand how solar panels do in hurricane-force winds, you must know the basics of solar panels, including what they do and how they’re attached to your home.
How Solar Panels Work
Solar panels convert the energy of the sun’s rays into electricity to power your home, device, or anything else you might use electricity for.
Essentially, as the sun casts light on these panels, the photons produced by the sun lose electrons from their contact with the solar panel. The electrons combine to create a flow of energy (electricity) that powers your home.
However, for these devices to convert sunlight into electricity, they need to absorb a lot of the sun’s rays. Since they don’t require heat, solar panels can work year-round, assuming they’re in a sunny location.
For this reason, many people attach solar panels to the roofs of their homes, barns, garages, or other structures near their homes.
Solar Panel Attachments
If you’ve ever been up on a roof, you know there isn’t much to hold onto. So how are solar panels attached?
Solar panels connect using a series of clips, bolts, and rails added to the roof of your house.
Typically, solar panel installation specialists will attach mounting brackets to the rafters of your home that support your roof. Once these brackets are in place, rails are bolted to these mounting brackets.
The solar panels are then mounted to these rails using a series of bolts and clips, holding the panels securely to the roof.
With such a setup, there’s often a tiny gap between the edge of your roof and your solar panels so the panels don’t stretch over the roof’s edge.
A small gap also exists between the panels and the roof, allowing drainage.
How To Prepare Solar Panels in Hurricanes
- Increase your home’s value
- Reduce your carbon footprint
- Save money
- Make your home sell faster once on the market
However, solar panels do come with a price: they’re expensive to install and can cause issues in extreme winds.
Fortunately, you can reduce some of these costs by preparing your solar panels in the case of hurricanes.
Hurricane straps are a clip built into your roof that increases the strength of the connection between your roof and your house’s walls and foundation.
By reducing the risk that your roof will be damaged in high winds, you can help protect your solar panels.
You can also help safeguard your solar panels in the case of a storm by limiting the possible debris that could fly into them and ensuring all connections are tight.
Trim back trees or bushes that could blow branches into your solar panels and ensure all connections are tight before the storm starts.
If connections aren’t tight, it’s best to seek professional help immediately while it’s still safe to do so.
How To Address Solar Panel Damage
While solar panels can survive winds up to 180 miles per hour, they’re not invincible. Unfortunately, solar panels can be damaged by high winds during hurricanes and even blow off your roof.
So what steps can you take if your solar panels have been damaged?
In reality, given how low solar panel costs have come, you’ll likely need to replace them if there is any damage. Luckily, that’s not a big deal and won’t affect the rest of the system.
Many companies now insure solar panels, especially in areas that get frequent hurricanes during summer, like:
If you find your solar panels damaged, contact your insurance provider. I personally had a bit of a challenging time finding a homeowner’s insurance company that would insure the whole system, so mine is insured for 50% of it.
Some of them won’t insurance solar at all. And there are horror stories out there about how insurance companies have dropped people I know completely after learning solar has gone on the roof (for liability reasons).
It shouldn’t be a huge deal, but it’s good to check with your insurance company before hitting the green light on solar.
GAF Solar Shingles in Hurricane-Force Winds
While large solar panels are the most common type of solar energy provider for homes, new innovations have changed how we think about the energy source.
With innovations like passive solar and solar shingles becoming popular, conventional wisdom about solar panels during hurricanes has changed significantly.
Not only can solar panels typically withstand hurricane-force winds, but new technology is especially effective.
GAF Solar Shingles, for example, are particularly effective in hurricane-force winds. Since these shingles are directly interlayered on your roof, it’s far more difficult for wind to catch under the panels and blow them off your roof.
These solar shingles have been tested in labs in winds up to 110 miles per hour (177.02 km/h) and meet regulatory requirements in areas that routinely get winds as high as 180 miles per hour (289.68 km/h).
Additionally, these shingles are durable against the other obstacles hurricanes pose.
Solar shingles are waterproof and can withstand hits from debris, embers, and more. If you’re concerned about having durable solar energy, GAF Solar Shingles are a worthy investment.
Tesla Solar Roof and Hurricane-Force Winds
Tesla’s Solar Roof functions similarly to GAF’s Solar Shingles in that the shingles of your roof are miniature solar panels.
However, these shingles are far stronger than regular roofing material. Tesla’s Solar Roof is attached to the regular clamps of solar panels and standard shingle adhesive. This makes them three times stronger than regular shingles.
Even more impressive with Tesla’s Solar Roof is its high rating in extreme wind. While most solar panel technology is rated only up to 140 miles per hour (225.30 km/h), Tesla’s Solar Roof is rated to withstand category five hurricane winds: up to 166 miles per hour (267.15 km/h).
Though these figures are impressive, the continental US has only ever experienced and recorded four category-five storms.
If you’re concerned about the potential for debris, Tesla Solar Roofs can also withstand this. These roofs are rated to withstand hail up to 1.75 inches (44.45 mm) in diameter — about the size of a standard golf ball.
The Ultimate Test – My Own Story of Solar Panels During Hurricane Ian
In late September of 2022, most of us in southwest Florida watched the news in dread, as the Category 4 (nearly Category 5) storm Ian barreled towards the Fort Myers/Cape Coral area for a direct hit.
Our first netzero home renovation (now a great rental property) is in Cape Coral. This would be the big test of how well solar panels actually hold up. I had done a lot of research, and had Florida Solar Design Group install my system the year before. They were reputable and have been in business for a long time in town. This is a big indicator of a great solar company.
One of the reasons I mention that company is because they recommended Mission Solar panels, which are made in Texas and rated for 180MPH+ windspeeds (which I believe also means it can withstand very high amounts of pressure in Pascals ).
So the storm hit, and it was a long long day.
Luckily, the entire solar panel system was completely undamaged! After being battered for 5-6 hours of 140MPH winds, everything held up amazingly.
It took about two weeks for the power to come back on, but the solar system started right back up when it did. Every single panel, which had zero damage. A quick sidenote – unless you have batteries attached to the system, the solar panels will not power your house. By code, they auto-shutoff when the lines are down.
Not only did the solar panels hold up, but the entire roof and the rest of the house as well. These are due to many factors, including:
- Hurricane ties/straps installed.
- A new roof in 2019 with higher wind rated shingles.
- New PGT Energy Star hurricane impact rated double pane windows and sliding doors.
- Just being lucky with the house design itself holding up against the direction of the wind (nothing to do with me).
So again, while every home is different, they definitely can hold up if installed correctly!
What a relief.
Solar Panels in Hurricanes: The Regulations by State
Though solar panels are generally very durable, there could be instances where they blow off homes, causing severe damage to nearby structures.
As a result, many states prone to hurricanes have begun to regulate how strong solar panels must be. Let’s take a quick look at a few different states’ regulations.
With Florida’s nearly constant sun, it’s no wonder why they would be interested in regulating solar panels.
For this reason, Florida requires all solar panels to be rated for winds up to 160 miles per hour (257.49 km/h).
Beyond these regulations, Florida has also significantly increased consumer protection.
For example, the state explicitly outlaws towns from prohibiting installing solar panels, allowing people to sell excess energy back into the power grid, and requires homeowners with solar panels greater than 10 kilowatts in size to carry a $1 million liability coverage.
Texas regulates solar panels differently than Florida does. While the state still outlaws towns from prohibiting solar panels, there are no state-wide laws regulating solar panel wind strength or net metering. Instead, this is generally done by each municipality.
The city of Houston, for instance, requires solar panels to be rated to withstand winds up to 110 miles per hour (177.02 km/h).
While this number is typical among many Texas municipalities, it isn’t universal. Therefore, you must check town and county ordinances regarding solar panel wind speed durability before installing solar panels.
Additionally, as long as the solar panels are attached to your home, most solar panels are covered by a homeowners policy in Texas.
In Georgia, most solar panels must withstand winds of 140 miles per hour (225.30 km/h). Since this is a shared goal by most manufacturers, most industrial solar panels will meet this requirement.
Additionally, Georgia is fortunate in that, while they get a lot of sun, most of the hurricanes that come through Florida dissipate by the time they reach Georgia.
However, suppose you’re located on the coast in Georgia. In that case, consider increasing the strength of your solar panels, as this is typically where storms hit.
If you’re located inland, a rating of 140 miles per hour (225.30 km/h) should be more than strong enough to keep your solar panels from being blown from your home.
Though solar panels are often large, heavy, and likely to be installed in areas with a lot of high winds, most solar panels are incredibly storm-resistant.
As a result, they are unlikely to be blown from your house, even during hurricane-force winds. This is true among most solar panels, solar shingles, and roofs.
Some jurisdictions regulate how strong your solar panels must be, so it’s essential to consider any state and local requirements on your home’s solar panels. However, if your panels are installed correctly, you shouldn’t face any challenges.
Mr. Solar: What Is A Solar Panel? | Yorkshire Energy Systems U.K.: Solar Panel Installation | Attainable Home: Can You Achieve Net-Zero Home Status With Solar Power? | Attainable Home: Do Homes With Solar Sell Faster? (What The Research Says) | Attainable Home: Hurricane Protection: How To Prepare Your House: 17 Tips
Sun Run: How Durable are Solar Panels in Hurricanes and Hail Storms? | Attainable Home: What Is Passive Solar Energy? (How To Heat Your Home) | GAF Energy: A roof with power added | GAF Energy: Protect Your Home With a Durable Solar Roof | Tesla: Solar Roof
Solar Reviews: Tesla Solar Roof review: is it worth the hype? | Verify This: Yes, only four Category 5 hurricanes have ever made landfall in mainland U.S. | Universal Property: 10 U.S. States Where Hurricanes Hit Most Often | Statista: Leading states based on cumulative solar photovoltaic capacity in the United States as of Q2 2022 | Raze Solar: Are Solar Panels Hurricane Proof? | City of Boca Raton: Solar Laws and Consumer Protections | Policy Genius: Are solar panels covered by homeowners insurance? | HaHa Smart: How Will Solar Panels Hold Up In Hurricanes? | South Texas Solar Systems: HOW SOLAR PANELS AFFECT HOME INSURANCE| Attainable Home: Does Solar Really Add Value To Your Home? (What Studies Show)