Hail Damage and your Solar Panels
In the spirit of making the world a "greener" place, many people continue to look for alternative energy sources to run their vehicles and heat and cool their homes. Solar panels, which in residential use generally means a collection or array of photovoltaic (PV) modules, are one green energy source. Solar panels use the sun's energy to produce electricity rather than using costly and environmentally unfriendly methods of power generation.
When it comes to home use, the PV panels usually sit on the roof where they remain exposed to the elements. The solar cells that conduct the energy are covered with protective glass which can break under certain conditions, including hail storms.
Study Your Situation
Before you decide to go with solar panels, you should do some research. One suggestion is to log on to NASEO to locate the energy office in each state. Experts in the field will help determine how efficient solar panels would be in their area as well as offer referrals regarding purchase, installation, and tax breaks. Some states reward consumers for their efforts toward conservation.
If you decide to install photovoltaic modules and worry about hail damage, there are a couple of things to consider. One of the most important concerns the size of the modules. If the region you live in is subject to frequent or serious hail storms, smaller modules are easier and less costly to replace. Also if a large module sustains damage, it will seriously reduce the power output, or even cause the system to fail completely. The drawback with using smaller modules is that they are often more expensive to install.
Fixing the Damage
Sometimes rather than replacing the whole solar panel, you may just need to put in a new pane of glass. This can be tricky if the repair isn't air-tight, as condensation may form and cloud the glass. Clouded glass will reduce energy generation. Replacement is at least worth a try because it might work and save you money.
If you purchase solar panels, carefully read the warranty so you'll know what types of damage it covers. In many cases, homeowners' insurance will take care of any necessary repairs or replacements. The Internet and eco-friendly publications and groups are all good sources for getting information on solar energy.