Maryland, DC is a state with fairly mild winters and summers. There’s the occasional heat wave. A monster blizzard every now and then.
And once in a blue moon, you have Hurricane Sandy — a freak super storm that wreaked unbelievable destruction and left communities from Florida to Massachusetts without power for days.
But not everyone was completely in the dark.
Despite the destruction left in Sandy’s wake, countless businesses and homeowners were still able to power their routers, computers, and phones thanks to solar photovoltaic (PV) installations.
While their neighbors were literally cut off from the world, these lucky individuals stay connected — watching TV, surfing the Internet, enjoying cold drinks, and even taking hot showers. All because they’d invested in solar technology before Hurricane Sandy touched ground.
Weatherproofing Solar Panels: Wise Investment or Waste of Time?
So those with solar already installed had it pretty good. But were they simply lucky– After all, as climate change worsens, won’t the frequency and intensity of super storms also get worse?
More specifically, after making the very wise decision to go solar, doesn’t it make sense to invest in additional solar panel weatherproofing for the long-term?
Well, it depends.
But first, let’s look at the actual damage that Hurricane Sandy caused:
- For starters, the storm’s high velocity winds didn’t come anywhere close to the speeds for which today’s leading panels are tested. According to the National Weather Service, New Jersey only received 90 mph winds, while top tier panels are routinely tested for speeds in excess of 145 mph.
- Renewable energy insurance broker, SolarInsure, reported almost zero solar damage claims — even in New York and New Jersey, which were 2 of the hardest hit regions.
- The greatest “reported” destruction happened in Gloucester City, NJ, where a 1.1 million sq. foot PV installation lost 5% of its capacity during the epic storm.
In other words, actual damage was exceedingly rare across the board. And where it did happen, the impact was minor.
Quite simply, today’s solar panels are durable designed and tested to withstand:
- high velocity hurricane winds
- harsh equatorial sunshine (obviously)
- hail stones fired at 260+ mph from pneumatic guns
- utility vehicles driven right onto the panels themselves (it’s true).
And more than being durable — a well-installed solar PV system actually makes your rooftop stronger.
A simple Google Image search of solar + Hurricane Sandy reveals photo after photo of destroyed communities in which solar-enabled homes are sometimes the only things standing.
Solar Is Durable, But Is Weatherproofing Worth It?
Despite Hurricane Sandy’s limited damage, there are compelling reasons to make additional weatherproofing enhancements.
In Florida, where hurricanes are commonplace, many home insurance companies require installations to withstand 150 mph winds. Installers accomplish this by securing the panels with extra mounting and racking equipment.
But in a state like Maryland, DC, is this extra cost justified?
It really depends on your risk tolerance. But when viewed as a long-term investment that pays handsome dividends for decades, it probably makes sense to pay an additional fee for this added protection.
The higher upfront cost might sting a little bit. And instead of fully recouping expenses in the first 6.9 years, you may have to wait 7.1 years.
But by 2020, you’ll have completely forgotten how much you initially paid for your installation and weatherproofing. And you’ll still have another 18 to 33 years of lower electricity bills to give you comfort.
To learn more about solar panels and weatherproofing, contact us today for a free consultation.