How to Protect Your Solar Panels | Green Energy Enthusiast

today is Sep 24, 2022

The banner image shows a series of solar panels with a big green shield in front of them representing protection. The text reads 'How to protect your solar panels'.

Solar panels have to be sturdy enough to withstand the elements while generating power, but even the most durable aren’t immune to the dangers of daily life. From theft to weather to regular wear and tear, countless hazards can shorten the lifespan of your solar panels if you aren’t careful.

It’s vital to protect your solar panels from all of the threats they may be exposed to. Further, if you aren’t willing to invest in high-quality panels, you’ll have to work harder to keep them safe. However, this is well worth your effort, as doing so will maximise the output of your solar panels and help you make the most of your investment.

Hail and storm prevention

Solar panels must be placed outside, but this means they’re subject to all of the elements, including snow, hail, and other forms of dangerous weather. Solar panels work in the winter and when it’s cloudy outside, but they won’t work if they’re cracked by hail or buried in snow.

The image shows a couple sitting inside their home watching a wild storm featuring rain, hail and lightning outside.

You may not be able to control the weather, but you can do the following to protect your solar panels from it:

Add a layer of methacrylate

You can’t cover up your solar panels completely, but you can coat them in a layer of methacrylate for additional protection. Methacrylate is a polymer plastic material that’s often used to create a protective barrier on the top of solar panels. Although it’s thin enough for light to pass through, it will still protect the actual solar panel against hail or other debris.

Use solar panel tilt frames

Not only does the angle of your solar panels impact their performance, but it also affects their susceptibility to dangerous weather. If your panels lay flat, the entire surface is vulnerable to the impacts of hail, snow, and debris. However, if you tilt your solar panels, anything that lands on them will simply slide off. Consider mounting your panels on tilt frames, so you can adjust them as needed.

Cut back your trees

Stay on top of your yard work by pruning your trees and cutting back any other plants that may impact your solar panels. Though they can work in the shade, their output will be suboptimal.

In addition to posing a fire hazard, branches, nuts, and fruit can fall on your solar panels and damage them. Even minor scratches or dents can negatively affect your solar panels’ performance. If they happen frequently, your panels may stop working altogether. especially if they happen frequently.

Finally, long branches make it easier for wildlife to get to your solar panels. Rodents, birds, and other pests can use the branches to climb directly onto your panels. Birds may even perch on the branches above your panels and leave refuse behind. If you trim your trees, it will significantly reduce animals’ access to your panels.

Critter prevention

Critters and wildlife are a threat to your solar panels in their own right, but there are additional measures you can take to protect against them.

Use fake birds of prey

To deter birds from sitting above or on your solar panels, place fake birds of prey (such as an owl or hawk) on your roof or the area near your panels. These decoys will make it seem like predatory birds have already taken residence by your solar panels and discourage real birds from doing so as well. This may scare off rodents and other critters that can damage the wiring and electrical components of your panels.

Try mesh barriers

For extra security, cover your panels with mesh or netting. These barriers physically prevent animals from going on top of your panels, but thanks to the gaps in the material, will still allow sunlight to pass through.

Consider installing barriers between the bottom of your panels and the surface they rest on. This will make it more difficult for wildlife to climb up onto your panels and block off access to the wiring and other components below.

Wear and tear prevention

The image shows two solar expert solar installers carrying out a routine maintenance check on a solar system.

Thirdly, you have to take care of your solar panels. Some wear and tear is inevitable, but if you prioritise regular maintenance, you’ll delay the need for significant repairs and extend the lifespan of your panels (and keep them in good enough condition to be recycled once their time is up).

Ensure panels are properly installed

First and foremost, ensure your solar panels are installed properly. Correct installation will set them up for lifelong success and help you minimise maintenance issues down the line.

Don’t try to install panels on your own. Instead, find a reputable solar company — one that quotes a price that works for your budget — to do this work. They’re far more likely to get it right. After installation, you can then ask the company to come check on your panels periodically, inspect them, and address any issues that arise.

Clean panels regularly

If you want to go the extra mile with your solar panel efficiency, clean your solar panels. They need to be kept free of dirt, dust, debris, and anything else that may block the sun and lower their output.

Depending on the angle of your panels, rain may be enough to keep them clean. Flat panels or panels that do not have a significant tilt do need manual cleaning to maintain their efficiency, as dirt and grime accumulate more quickly.

At the end of the day, solar panels are a significant investment. To get the best possible return on that investment, you have to take care of it. Just like your car needs regular maintenance to keep running, your solar panels also need care and protection to stay in good working order.

Solar panel theft prevention

Solar panels have become more popular and prominent as time goes on. In this year alone, more than 115 gigawatts of solar power were installed across the globe. This means that more people understand and appreciate the value of solar power. However, it also means that some unsavoury people will do anything to get them — even if that means stealing them from others.

Because they’re typically placed on the outside of your home or in your yard, solar panels can be vulnerable to theft. Luckily, there are a few ways you can try to thwart would-be thieves:

Set up an alarm system

First and foremost, set up an alarm system for your solar panels. A motion detection system will alert you the moment someone tries to move or remove your panels.

Install a lock on your panels so they’re more difficult to remove. Motion detection lights or other kinds of smart home technology may further deter thieves, preventing them from approaching your panels in the first place.

Insurance

Get insurance for your solar panels. Similar to how you would insure a car or other expensive items, it’s a necessary protection for your investment. Insurance may not prevent thieves from making off with your solar panels, but it will help you and your finances recover from theft if it does occur.

You may be able to bundle your solar panels with your home’s insurance policy. Depending on your provider, you may be able to purchase additional coverage to insure against other risks, including water, fire, and accidental damage.

Write down your solar panels’ serial numbers

If your panels have a serial number, write it down, and store it someplace safe. If someone takes your panels, you’ll be able to identify them if they’re found (such as when the thieves attempt to sell them). Again, this won’t prevent someone from stealing your panels, but it will make it easier to find them if they’re taken.

If your panels don’t have a serial number, put some kind of distinguishing feature on them, such as a makeshift serial number or a small bit of paint. Double-check your warranty first, so you know what will break it. If marking or tampering will harm your solar panels, it’s probably better to focus on other theft-prevention tactics instead.