By Gabrielle Hance
It’s that time of year again-hurricane season. And Louisiana’s infamous track record has led some solar enthusiasts along the Gulf Coast into a whirlwind of questions. When it comes to installing solar in an area where houses are susceptible to weather damage, many people wonder if their solar panels and devices are also at risk. And if so, how can you prevent such damage?
No need to worry!
Most solar panels already come with their own source of protection – tempered glass that will rarely be broken by ice and hail. Breakable plate glass is known to cloud over time and would therefore decrease the efficiency of the solar panel. Solar panels located on the roof are also fairly wind resistant because most of them are elevated to let wind pass harmlessly underneath and over the collector. In fact, if you install your solar panels to the most stable part of your roof, the entire setup will actually strengthen your entire roof!
Still not convinced?
During a storm with heavy lightning, having metal panels attached or elevated from any roof may intimidate solar homeowners and neighbors. Fortunately, there is a small device that can withstand up to 60,000 amps of electricity, which it then transfers into the ground with no harm to your solar panels – the “lightning arrester.” Most models run less than $50. For safety purposes, you should have a solar professional install.
What else is out there?
Another BIPV, known as solar laminates are thin, flexible sheets of solar panels that require no support structures. They can be placed directly onto the metal roofs of buildings and other types of roofing. Easily attached to the existing building, solar laminates are capable of withstanding up to 160 mph winds. Both solar shingles and solar laminates are able to resist damage because neither requires back-ventilation, and most systems come with a warranty.
What about after the storm?
If you are not allowed to install solar panels, but you want to have a small amount of solar power after that huge storm, there is a wide variety of portable solar panels that can produce just enough energy to power small objects like cell phones, iPods, and laptops. Solio and Voltaic are just two of the many brands that sell backpacks and portable devices, which produce a few volts of electricity. Most brands run less than $400.