Are Solar Panels Waterproof & Other Solar Sustainability Questions

Solar panels are a wonderful but complex world. At first, most homeowners have a flood of questions like are solar panels waterproof? Do solar panels work in the rain? Are they eco-friendly? And the list goes on. 

But don’t worry! We’ll help you get the hang of it. This article will go over some of the most frequent questions homeowners have when considering switching to solar. Hopefully, after reading this, you’ll be one step closer to joining the solar movement! 

Are Solar Panels Waterproof?

To answer the question, are solar panels waterproof, we’ll propose three possible scenarios in which solar panels get wet.  

Will they work in the rain?

While they look thin, solar panels are tougher than you might suspect. Essentially, you can think of them as panes of tough glass, similar to windows.

Manufacturing companies go to great lengths to design and build waterproof solar panels that continue to produce electricity even when it’s raining. Most good-quality solar panels come with two main components that prevent water damage: the thin glass sheet (found on the front and back of solar modules) and the specialized sealant glue, which blocks the passage of fluids through the surface. So, as long as your solar panels have these components, you do not need to worry.  

On a positive note, rainwater can prove beneficial for your solar panels as the water washes away any dust or dirt. 

Will they work in a hurricane?

Hurricanes might be a pressing concern for those living on the Gulf Coast. Luckily, solar companies follow strict building and testing codes when they design solar energy systems. First, solar companies test solar panels to ensure they can and will withstand a hurricane. Made to survive winds up to 140 miles per hour,  solar panels can withstand most hurricanes. In category four hurricanes, the typical wind speed is 130 miles per hour. Solar workers securely attach solar panels to your roof with ample attachment points to resist wind uplift when it comes to installation.

All in all, your solar panels should be the least of your worries during a hurricane. 

Can Solar Panels be Damaged By Hail?

Yes, a heavy hailstorm can damage solar panels. However, this isn’t very common as solar manufacturers design panels to endure severe hailstorms and other weather conditions. To ensure this, manufacturers use quality tests that simulate the impact of hailstones on PV modules.

Most cases of hailstorms damaging solar panels occur when hailstones sizes are greater than 2 inches or manufacturers build solar panels with very small PV cells, just like those found in solar LED lamp posts. If hailstones do cause any damage to your solar system, they might fall under your warranty coverage. 

Are solar panels safe to get wet?

Since solar panels are electric devices, many people wonder: can solar panels get wet without turning hazardous?

The answer is very similar to the previous one. If the water stays on the surface and doesn’t filter to inner components then rain or water will not be a problem.

Since solar panels need to receive sunlight to produce electricity, solar companies place them outdoors. Given this, solar panels already feature a design that withstands and resists various environmental conditions. To ensure the performance of solar panels under severe outdoor conditions, manufacturers submit their modules to lab tests, including thermal cycling, humidity freeze tests, damp heat, hail tests, mechanical load tests, leakage current tests, and more. 

Now that we’ve answered the question, are solar panels waterproof, it’s time to tackle other frequent questions!

How is Solar Power Sustainable?

Solar panel sustainability stems from using one of the largest and most sustainable sources of energy, sunlight!

Besides reducing carbon emissions, solar power is sustainable because it is created by simply converting the sun’s energy into electricity. This conversion does not produce any greenhouse gases, toxic substances, or pollutants. Moreover, unlike fossil fuels, like oil or diesel, the sunlight is an infinite source of power as the leading supplier, the sun has been shining for hundreds of billions of years. 

On the other hand, fossil fuels harm the environment when they are extracted from the ground and transported around the globe. Then, add to the many years it takes to produce them and that they’re finite resources.

What is the environmental impact of making solar panels?

While solar panels are environmentally friendly during their lifespan, they cause some pollution and energy consumption during their manufacturing process and once they’re discarded or replaced by new ones.  

Let’s begin with the manufacturing process. To build solar panels, manufacturers require minerals like copper, nickel, and cadmium. The main problem isn’t using these minerals or that they are indeed finite resources, but the mining activities and the chemical separation processes used to extract these minerals. 

Recycling solar panels is a complicating process which is another downside. Manufacturers employ complex processes, using adhesives and sealants, during the building of solar panels, which makes breaking them apart to reuse specific components quite hard. 

Luckily, the environmental impact of producing solar panels decreases year after year with the introduction of better panel technologies and designs.

Will solar power reach grid parity?

Before answering this question, will solar power reach grid parity? Let’s explain what grid parity is. Grid parity is when an alternative form of energy, solar power, in this case, produces power at a Levelized cost of electricity that’s the same or cheaper than the price your utility company charges you for getting electricity off the grid.

Calculating the Levelized cost of energy of your solar panels is as easy as dividing the amount you invested for installing a solar array by 25, which is the guaranteed lifespan of solar panels. Currently, most states show that the cost of energy per watt decreases with solar power and that homeowners even recover the initial investment. 

Now, back to the main question. Yes! Many European countries, China, and the state of California have already reached grid parity. So, grid parity is mostly a matter of where you live. 

However, whether solar has reached grid parity or not in your state, you’ll still pay less with solar over the course of 25 years than if you stay with the grid.

Is solar power renewable?

Like wind energy, solar power is part of the portfolio of renewable energies and is the cleanest and most abundant renewable energy source available to date. When we talk about renewable energy, we refer to natural resources or processes that are available in infinite amounts and that enjoy constant and natural replenishment. While sunlight does vary depending on the location, weather, and time of the day, people never run out of it. Today, we can harness the potential of solar power through solar panels and other technologies to use for heating, transportation, lighting, and more.

On a global scale, solar power is one of the sources of energy that enables the transition from fossil-based systems of energy production and consumption to renewable energy sources.

With all those technicalities and solar vernacular, it can be overwhelming buying solar. Try not to let it be discouraging, the more you know, the more prepared you will be. While you might not be an expert or do the installation yourself, it’s always beneficial to know the ins and outs of solar and be alert if something doesn’t follow the expected pattern. 

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