The impact of hurricanes on solar mounting systems

pa@kbracking.comBlog

flat roof solar PV system

Natural disasters are unlikely to be prevented as climate change is only making them worse. A hurricane or tornado can be detrimental and impact solar mounting systems.  As hurricane Dorian hit North America at the beginning of September, it threated solar installations along the east coast. According to the Washington Post, hurricane Dorian’s forceful winds extended outward up to 60 miles, while tropical-storm-force winds extended of up to 220 miles in North Carolina.

High winds

Although buildings and commercial properties follow set guidelines by the government and are built to withstand strong winds, damages can still occur. In natural disasters, such as a hurricane, mounting systems can still be affected. With high wind speeds and heavy rain, solar panels may still be at risk of being moved out from their position and/or damaged by high volumes of water. In most instances where wind causes damage to a solar array, failures occur due to weaknesses in the racking system or in the roof that your panels are mounted to.

Durability

When the wind blows over a rooftop with solar panels, it passes through the gaps between the panels and the roof, causing uplift to the panels.  The strong winds from a hurricane are capable of tearing panels from their mounts, or the mounts from the roof or ground. In the most extreme cases, solar panels may stay anchored down, but uplift from strong winds can tear sections of your roof off. Cases like these demonstrate that a well-built solar racking system may be more resistant to high winds than the roof itself. Solar panels are typically tested by manufacturers to ensure that they can survive hurricanes. At KB Racking, our mounting systems, such as the EkonoRack 2.0 are certified to withstand wind speeds of up to 170 miles-per-hour (MPH).

Power Outages

One issue that people face during hurricanes is power outages. As hurricane Dorian was moving into North Carolina, power outages were increasing as winds climbed. More than 70,000 customers were without power as the storm neared Cape Fear. Also, approximately 190,000 customers were still without power in South Carolina, where tropical-storm-force winds were occurring. Furthermore, this is where operating your electricity via solar energy is beneficial. As blackouts grow increasingly common with climate change, solar-powered backup systems become increasingly popular. If you’re thinking to go solar, do it today!

Solar racking systems used to keep the solar panels in place are the ultimate factor in determining wind resiliency. Although damages to mounting systems may be minimal, solar installers should assess the impacts and identify practices to improve the resilience of solar mounting systems.