1. Homeowners
  2. Going Solar
  3. Best Solar Companies
  4. Can hail damage solar panels?

Can hail damage solar panels?

Exploring the likelihood (and unlikelihood) of solar panel hail damage

Author pictureAuthor picture
Author picture
Written by
Author picture
Edited by

Find Solar Energy Companies near you

Find a Solar Energy partner near you.

    solar panels damaged by the impact of stones of hail

    Hail can damage solar panels, but does that mean you should be worried about potential damage to your solar panels from hail? Not necessarily.

    Keep reading to learn why, along with everything else you need to know about how hail affects solar panels.

    Key insights

    • Although it can sometimes happen, hail usually doesn’t damage solar panels unless it’s over 2 inches in diameter.
    • Hail damage is most likely in Hail Alley, which includes Texas, the Midwest and the Great Plains.
    • The cost of fixing any damage that does occur may be covered by your homeowners insurance.

    How tough are solar panels?

    Residential photovoltaic (PV) systems typically cost upwards of $10,000, so it makes sense to be concerned about potential damage to your investment. However, hail may not be nearly as lethal to solar panels as you think; most solar panels are rated to withstand hailstorms.

    In fact, hail is more likely to damage many of the other valuable items on your property – like the roof of your home or vehicle – than your solar panels. According to a study conducted by the National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL), the probability of hail damage to a PV system is below 0.05% (or less than one in every 2,500 installations).

    » LEARN: How long do solar panels last?

    What size hail will damage solar panels?

    As Sara Popescu Slavikova, co-founder of Greentumble, explained to us, “Solar panels are rigorously tested and even certified to withstand hailstones up to 2 inches in diameter or larger falling at 50 miles per hour.” However, it’s difficult to say precisely what size hail will damage your solar panels because there are a lot of factors at play, ranging from wind speed to the quality of your solar panels.

    Solar panels are rigorously tested and even certified to withstand hailstones up to 2 inches in diameter or larger falling at 50 miles per hour.”
    — Sara Popescu Slavikova, co-founder of Greentumble

    If we’re talking in terms a meteorologist might use, most solar panels can easily withstand up to golf-ball-size hailstones (about 1.68 inches in diameter). As an example of this, back in 2017, golf-ball-size hail rained down on the NREL’s headquarters in Golden, Colorado, at speeds of up to 70 miles per hour. In the wake of the storm, only a single solar panel out of over 3,000 had broken.

    However, if you hear the news talking about tennis-ball-size or baseball-size hail, you may be in for trouble.

    Then why is hail a problem for solar panels?

    If you live in an area that's not prone to large hailstorms, it’s very unlikely that your solar panels will be damaged by any sort of precipitation. On the other hand, people that live in “Hail Alley” should be more prepared for potentially damaging weather conditions.

    Surrounding the geographical center of the United States, Hail Alley is the nickname given to an unofficial section of the country that receives significantly more hail than other regions. States with areas in Hail Alley include the following:

    • Colorado
    • Kansas
    • Minnesota
    • Nebraska
    • Missouri
    • New Mexico
    • Oklahoma
    • North Dakota
    • Texas
    • Wyoming
    • Montana
    • South Dakota

    Does homeowners insurance cover hail damage to solar panels?

    Generally speaking, homeowners insurance can cover hail damage to both rooftop and ground-mounted solar panel systems. However, it’s important for you to confirm this with both your installer and your insurance company before it's too late.

    To verify this information with your insurance provider, make sure your policy explicitly includes property damage from hail and that there's no language barring solar panels from your coverage. For the most accurate information, we recommend contacting your insurance agent directly.

    In addition to your homeowners insurance, hail damage to your solar panels may be covered under the manufacturer’s performance guarantees that came with your system. When talking to your installer about your PV system, ask what's covered in your solar panel warranty and determine the steps you should take in the event of hail damage.

    » MORE: How much do solar panels cost?

    How can I protect my solar panels from hail?

    Although there's not much you can do to stop Mother Nature, there are a few things you can do to protect your solar panels from potential hail damage before and after your installation.

    What to do before a hailstorm

    For starters, get a professional to install your solar panels and ask to see the technical specifications and ratings associated with the equipment they use. That way, you can ensure your solar panels are properly mounted.

    Once your system is installed, if an intense hailstorm is forecasted, you can also put a protective layer on top of your panels to keep them safe throughout the storm.

    However, this should only be done if you can safely access your solar panels, which is tricky with a roof-mounted system. So, purchasing and using protective covers may not be worth the time, money and effort involved unless you live in an area that's especially prone to extreme hailstorms.

    What to do after a hailstorm

    After the storm has passed and it’s safe to go outside, carefully inspect your entire property for hail damage. In many cases, your roof or siding may be more damaged than your solar panels.

    If your roof has been damaged but all of your solar panels are still in working condition, you may need to temporarily remove your PV system to repair or replace your roof. To do so, contact your original installer or another reputable solar company to safely take down your panels and store them until your roof is fixed.

    Just make sure the company you pick has a good reputation for follow-through — Matthew, a ConsumerAffairs reviewer from Maryland, had a bad experience: “We had solar panels installed. A year later we had a new roof installed because of hail damage. It took six months to have someone reinstall them and then they were not installed correctly.”

    In the unlikely event that a hailstorm does damage one or more of your solar panels, you should contact the necessary parties to repair your system as quickly as possible. This includes sending pictures and descriptions of the damage to your homeowners insurance agent and your original solar installer (or another contractor if they are no longer in business).

    » MORE: Solar panel maintenance guide

    Find a Solar Energy partner near you.


      What states receive the most hail?

      Texas, Colorado, Nebraska, Wyoming, Kansas, Oklahoma, South Dakota and other states in Hail Alley receive the most hail in the U.S.

      Should I avoid getting solar panels if I live in an area with a lot of hail?

      You don’t need to avoid getting solar panels if you live in an area with a lot of hail. Even in extreme conditions, the likelihood of solar panel damage from hail is very low, and there are actually places in Hail Alley that are great for generating solar power, such as sunny Denver or Oklahoma City.

      Do solar panels get damaged by snow?

      It’s very unlikely for high-quality solar panels to be damaged by snow. Although the weight of heavy snowfall can stress a PV system’s support structure, solar panels are built to withstand all types of precipitation.

      Light snowfall can even help clean solar panels once it melts by washing away sediment and allowing more sunlight to reach the system for efficient power generation. However, this usually isn’t a replacement for a real solar panel cleaning.

      ConsumerAffairs writers primarily rely on government data, industry experts and original research from other reputable publications to inform their work. Specific sources for this article include:
      1. National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL), “Reliability and Geographic Trends of 50,000 Photovoltaic Systems in the USA.” Accessed June 1, 2023.
      2. Golf Span, “Golf Ball Size Guide (Weight, Diameter, Radius) – All You Need to Know.” Accessed June 1, 2023.
      3. WeatherSolve Structures, “WHAT IS HAIL ALLEY AND HOW CAN YOU PROTECT YOUR BUSINESS.” Accessed June 1, 2023.
      4. Department of Energy, “Let it Snow: How Solar Panels Can Thrive in Winter Weather.” Accessed June 1, 2023. 
      Did you find this article helpful? |
      Share this article