How to Protect Solar Panels From Hail

Major hail storm headed your way? Here’s how to protect your solar panels from hail damage.
Written by Natalie Todoroff
Reviewed by Melanie Reiff
Updated on Sep 12, 2022
Your solar panels are more durable than you’d think, but to protect them from hail damage, you’ll need to do thorough research before you get them installed, invest in some protective hail covers, stay on top of routine maintenance, and double-check to see if they are covered in your
homeowners insurance
policy. 
When you catch word that a hail storm is brewing, your first response is probably to bring everything inside, put your car in the garage, and close up your shutters. But what about what’s on top of your roof? 
If you have solar panels affixed to your roof, you probably spent a pretty penny getting them installed—and we’re here to help you protect your investment. 
As a
licensed broker
users trust to find great homeowners insurance policies,
Jerry
knows a thing or two about the importance of protecting your home. And today, we’ll give you our best tips and tricks on hail protection for solar panels.
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Are solar panels hail proof?

If your solar panels are up on your roof and you haven’t taken a good look at them since their installation, you may be curious as to just how tough they are. Even though they’re intended to produce energy, in a rough storm, your solar panels function as the first line of defense between your home and the elements
Solar panel manufacturers know this, which is why solar panels are specifically engineered and tested to make sure they hold up in all kinds of weather conditions, including hail. 
This testing is pretty rigorous: during their prototype phase, solar panels are pelted with golf ball-sized hail pellets at speeds that top 170 mph! And, according to a
2014 study from the National Renewable Energy Laboratory
, the probability of significant hail damage to solar panels is only 0.05%. 
This number may seem insignificant, but when damage does occur, it can significantly impact your panels’ ability to produce energy. Additionally, most of the time, the damage is too small to see with the naked eye
After a particularly strong hail storm, hairline cracks can begin to form on the panels’ tempered glass surface. Changes in light and temperature cause your panels to heat and cool, which causes those cracks to grow and damage the photovoltaic cells inside. And, without properly functioning photovoltaic cells, your solar panels won’t be able to produce energy.

Hail protection for solar panels: techniques

While you can’t control the weather, there’s quite a bit you can do to protect your solar panels from hail damage. Below are the best strategies for hail protection for solar panels. 

Do your research before you get them installed 

Much of what you do before you install your solar panels will make a big difference in how well they hold up in a hail storm. Taking the time to thoroughly do your research will pay off in the long run. 
If you’re planning on making your solar panels your home’s primary source of energy, get familiar with your local weather patterns. Do you live in a hail-heavy region? Then buying smaller panels might make more financial sense for you, as they are more easily replaced. 
If you live somewhere that’s prone to heavy snowfalls, make sure to invest in panels that can handle excess weight. Consider positioning them at a steep angle so that snow can slide right off. 
Research the brand you’re thinking of going with, and make sure to choose one that is professional and reliable. Proper installation is everything when it comes to making your solar panels last, so choosing an experienced company with great reviews will help point you in the right direction. 
Pro Tip Read your warranty! Many solar panel manufacturers offer warranties in the case of wind and hail damage. 

Invest in protective hail covers 

This is a great solution if you’re notified of a brewing winter storm ahead of time. If you have time to prepare for a storm, be sure to take full advantage of it and invest in some protective hail covers for your solar panels. 
Hail covers are filled with air, so when a pelt of hail falls, it will bounce off the cover instead of striking your solar panel. While this is an extremely effective method for protecting your panels, it does require some legwork on your end beforehand. 
Plus, the covers will block out the sunlight, so they’re best left for the direst of winter storms. 

Watch your local weather forecasts

This one ties in with the previous suggestion about the hail covers. One of the best ways to protect your solar panels is to keep up with your local forecasts and track local weather patterns. 
You don’t need to become a full-blown meteorologist, but tuning into your evening weather broadcast and not ignoring severe weather alerts will buy you the added time you need to prepare for a hail storm. 

Keep up with routine maintenance 

We mentioned earlier that a lot of hail damage to solar panels can be hard to spot, which is why we’d recommend being diligent about their routine maintenance. 
Experts recommend that you bring in a professional once a year to check on your panels. With their specialized tools and equipment, they’ll be able to spot hard-to-notice damage and make sure your panels are securely attached to your roof. 
If you begin to notice a decrease in your panels’ overall performance, don’t wait around for your yearly maintenance appointment. Make a call and have a professional take a look before the damage becomes worse. 

Home insurance and solar panels

With all of this talk about repairing and protecting your solar panels, you may be thinking will my homeowners insurance policy cover that? 
The answer depends largely on where your solar panels are located. If your solar panels are on your roof, your homeowners insurance will likely deem them a part of your home’s structure and thus covered under your dwelling coverage
But we’d strongly encourage you to double-check your policy to make sure that that’s the case before you assume! 
If your roof’s solar panels are already covered as a part of your dwelling coverage, you may have to increase your coverage limit in order to cover the cost of any potential repairs
Doing so will cause your premium to go up slightly. Although it varies from policy to policy, a $200 to $400 annual increase is considered normal. 
It gets a little more complicated if your solar panels are somewhere else, like your yard. In that case (if they’re not considered a part of your home’s structure), you may have to purchase an add-on or separate policy altogether to insure your solar panels. 

Find homeowners insurance the easy way  

While preparing for a hail storm is a great way to protect your solar panels, having a solid
homeowners insurance
policy is hands-down the best way to protect your entire home from all kinds of unpredictable disasters. 
And downloading
Jerry
makes finding your perfect policy easier than ever! 
All you have to do is download the app, answer a few questions, and Jerry will take care of the rest. We’ll do a comprehensive cross-analysis of policies from the top, name-brand insurers to make sure you have a policy that suits your needs. 
Choose the policy you like, then we’ll do the hard work for you—that means handling all phone calls, paperwork, and renewals. 
“This was my first time getting insurance, so I was really scared. But
Jerry
made things much easier than expected! I’m so glad I found the app.” —Umar J.
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