How Strong Are Solar Panels?

One of our panel suppliers shows off just how strong their panels are.

Over the years we’ve made a lot of videos showing off that solar panels can take a beating! Obviously, we’re just messing around, but we’ve thrown A LOT at these panels! That begs the question, how strong are solar panels?

We’ve thrown ice chunks, paintballs, and baseballs, heck we even invited out a local girls’ softball team to try to mess these panels up! The panels passed all of these strength tests with flying colors!

Let’s be real, panels CAN break, but they’re designed to last a long time and take on 99% of the weather that mama nature throws at them. Let’s talk about how tough they can get.

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How strong can solar panels get?

Panels are tested for hail resiliency with air cannons and ice spheres. The speeds of the ice must be a minimum of 50 mph with some reaching over 60 mph. The size of the ice chunks will be from 1″ to over 2″. In wind testing panels can withstand speeds of 130 mph or more. That’s a Category 3 hurricane!

We don’t remember the last time that a Category 3 hurricane hit Idaho or Colorado, but it pays to err on the safe side!

Solar panels are tested extensively to determine their strength and durability. This takes some real science and panel manufacturers to go to great lengths to make sure their panels get good ratings. The levels of strength that they have varies by manufacturer. Good installers will choose panel types that are well suited to the areas they serve.

What makes solar panels so strong?

The short answer is: layers and testing.

Solar panels are composed of multiple layers. There are thin silicon wafers that are doing the hard work of converting light into electricity. Those are actually quite delicate. The wafers are reinforced with an aluminum frame, tempered glass, and other insulating and containing layers.

Panel Layers Inspection for Build Quality

The end result is a photovoltaic panel that has a little bit of flexibility but can take a beating. If you ever press on a solar panel, you’ll notice that they have a bit of flex to them. This is by design. If they were rigid they would be more brittle and they would be prone to shattering!

They’re strong by design and this strength is backed up by lengthy warranties. A decent warranty will be 25 years long, and some even go as high as 30 years long. The warranties maintain that they will continue to produce a minimum of 80% of the power that they originally produced, and some panels guarantee 92% or more of the power production that they first had.

Who verifies the strength of solar panels?

There are two main bodies in the US that take care of this work. one is the Underwriter’s Laboratory (UL) that was mentioned before, and the other is the North American Board of Certified Energy Practitioners (NABCEP).

Underwriter's Laboratory

UL exists to enhance safety standards in nearly any industry that you can think of. They test everything from medical equipment and electric car parts to cameras and even solar panels.

Their testing is strenuous. Depending on the region the solar panels are intended for they can test for salt corrosion, fire resistance, wind, hail, energy production performance over time, and more.

Underwriter's Laboratory Logo

This article on the Underwriter’s Laboratory test protocols for solar panels details the Underwriter’s Laboratory test protocols for solar panels. They’ll be stress tested by simulated hail being fired out of an air cannon, and with steel spheres being dropped on them.

NABCEP Certifications

Panels are only as good as their installation. Thanks to NABCEP there’s a reliable way of making sure panels are installed correctly.

The installation of PV panels is not a simple task. It requires the expertise of electricians, engineers, system designers, contractors, and local power utility authorities to come together. NABCEP offers certifications for the installers to make sure they’re trained at the highest level.

NABCEP Company Logo

They are also the certification board for solar inspectors. Inspectors must pass off on a system before it can be turned on. They ensure everything is done correctly so a roof doesn’t leak, the extra circuitry doesn’t damage the home, and the mounting of the panels can handle the toughest wind conditions.

What happens if solar panels do break?

Because panels are so integrated within a home, they can almost always be tied to the homeowner’s insurance.

Most things that would get close to damaging solar panels would also most likely damage your home, and most things that would damage solar panels would be covered by homeowners insurance.

Before you get your system installed, reach out to your homeowner’s insurance company. It’s crucial to know if they will cover these panels for you, especially if you live in an area with intense hail. If your panels break, talk to your installation company about solutions for disposing of them.

More Solar Strength Tests

Our marketing team has way too much fun throwing things at panels! We wanted to share some of our top videos where we put panels to the test!

Panels and the Paintball Test

Panels vs the Softball Team

Panels against ice chunks, baseballs and more

How do I find a reputable solar panel installer?

If durability is one of your concerns with going solar, you can rest easy. The next step is to find a trustworthy installation company. A company that will last as long as, or longer than those 25-30 year warranties.

We’ve heard too many stories of homeowners getting solar and then their installation company going out of business just a few years later. We created a solar installer selection guide. It’s designed to help you pick a company that will be in it for the long haul. It even comes with a printable checklist that can be used when you’re shopping around!

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