To say the weather in Colorado is sporadic would be an understatement.  While The Centennial State boasts 300 days of sunshine per year, the other 60 can feel like the world is coming to an end.  Every year, the Front Range is sieged by booming thunderstorms and torrential downpours.  And hail.  Especially hail.

The single most common inquiry home owners have when thinking about adding a solar PV array to their home is about hail.

Solar contractors receive questions like “Can hail damage the panels?” or “Does my insurance cover hail damage?” On a daily basis.

Colorado Hail

(Credit: @co_realestate_muscle on Instagram)

In short, yes hail can damage solar panels, and most home insurance policies cover that damage.  However, the chances of hail actually damaging panels is slim to none.

Last May, a particularly intense hail storm tore through the Front Range.  It was so destructive that it knocked the Colorado Mills Mall out of commission for nearly an entire year.

Colorado Hail

Car in Colorado Mills Area

The National Renewable Energy Lab (NREL) is located just about 2 miles away from the Colorado Mills Mall.  Of the 3,168 solar panels at the lab, only 1 (one!!) was damaged by the same storm.  Additionally, while the production dropped during the storm, once it passed, the panels began to perform like nothing happened.  This is a great testament to the durability of the modern day solar panel.

NREL Solar

Solar array at NREL – Golden, CO.

Since the company was founded in 2009, ARE Solar has not had to replace a single panel due to hail damage.  In fact, the only panel we’ve had to replace was at the Greenbox Self Storage in LoDo, due to a stray bullet hole.

“It was a .357, if I am not mistaken,” says Andy Pendl, VP and partner of ARE Solar.  When Greenbox called to let ARE know a panel was not producing, Andy went out to investigate, and ended up pulling the bullet out of the panel himself.

 

So, while solar panels may not be bullet proof, they can withstand even the harshest of hail storms.   This durability is an important trait for solar photovoltaic systems, especially in a state like Colorado where the weather can be unforgiving.