top of page

Will Hail Damage My Solar Panels in Wisconsin? What You Need to Know

Living in Wisconsin, you know hail happens. And with your shiny new solar panels sparkling on your roof, you might be wondering if they'll withstand the next storm. So, will hail damage your solar panels? 


Hail storm headed towards WI solar panels

The answer, like many things in life, is it depends. Let's dive deeper into the hail vs. solar panel showdown:


Can Hail Damage Solar Panels?

Yes, hail can potentially damage solar panels, but the extent depends on several factors:

  • Hail size: Smaller hail (think pea-sized) usually bounces off without issue. But larger hailstones, like marble-sized or bigger, can cause:

  • Cracks: These can affect performance and potentially lead to water damage within the panel.

  • Dents: While dents might not look pretty, they often don't impact functionality significantly.

  • Broken glass: In severe cases, large hail can shatter the protective glass, rendering the panel inoperable.

  • Panel type: Modern solar panels are built tough, and designed to withstand wind, snow, and even some hail. However, older panels or lower-quality models might be more susceptible.

  • Impact angle: A direct hit at a perpendicular angle packs more punch than glancing blows.


As part of the certification process all listed solar panels must go through. UL, which is a certification and testing standard listing you can find on just about any consumer product, conducts safety, performance, and verification testing of PV modules for hail impacts against UL 1703 and UL 61703 Standards. By addressing the effects of hail storms, UL helps power operators address longevity concerns and realize expectations for a return on their investment in PV systems. Moreover, UL’s hail impact testing helps prevent electrical shock hazards that could be a risk to field technicians or even the general public.


There are two types of impact tests that UL conducts. The first is a historical impact test that measures the impact toughness of PV modules. UL lab technicians drop a two-inch solid steel sphere from a height of 51 inches onto the surface of the PV module, the energy equivalent of a hail stone measured at one inch and three-eighths in diameter falling at terminal velocity through the sky.


The second impact test is a true hail impact. This “classic” test involves placing a perfectly formed spherical chunk of ice into a pneumatic cannon and firing the calibrated ice ball at 10 to 13 critical locations on the PV module. Most often, UL technicians will shoot 25-millimeter, or approximately one-inch, ice balls at the module at about 52 miles per hour. To receive the UL listing, the panel must survive the tests.


How Likely is Hail Damage in Wisconsin?

Wisconsin faces moderate hail risk, with the frequency and severity varying across the state. Northern regions tend to experience hail less often, while southern areas see it more frequently, with larger stones possible. So, location matters!


What If My Solar Panels Get Damaged by Hail?

Don't panic! Here's what to do:

  • Inspect the panels: Check for cracks, dents, or shattered glass. Take photos for documentation.

  • Contact your installer: They can assess the damage and recommend repairs or replacements.

  • Check your warranty: Most warranties cover hail damage, but specifics vary.

How Can I Protect My Solar Panels from Hail?

While complete protection is impossible, here are some strategies:

  • Hail guards: These metal mesh screens mounted above the panels can deflect smaller hail.

  • Panel angle adjustment: Tilting your panels slightly can deflect hail more effectively.

  • Monitor weather forecasts: Be prepared to cover your panels with protective materials if a severe storm is imminent.

Remember: The best approach is to consult with a professional solar installer familiar with Wisconsin's climate and hail risks. They can recommend the best panels and protection strategies for your specific location.


Beyond the Damage:

Even if your panels escape unscathed, remember that hailstorms can affect other essential components of your solar system, such as inverters and wiring. Ensure your entire system is inspected and insured for comprehensive protection.


Conclusion:

While hail presents a potential risk to solar panels in Wisconsin, modern technology and proactive measures can significantly mitigate the damage. By understanding the risks, taking precautions, and choosing the right equipment and installer, you can ensure your solar investment continues to shine brightly, even after the storm clouds pass.


P.S. Don't forget to share this post with your fellow Wisconsinites who are considering or already enjoying solar power! Knowledge is power (pun intended!), and together we can all sun-power our future with confidence.




Comments


bottom of page