Solar panel protective covers: What You Need

Should You Protect Your Solar Panels with a Solar Panel Protective Cover Solar energy is growing in popularity like never before, and for good reason. Solar energy panels are easy to access and save homeowners thousands of dollars on their energy costs.

A solar panel protective cover offers protection for solar panels when they are not in use. These solar panel protective covers may not be necessary under normal circumstances.

In this article, I will share exhaustive information on solar panel protective covers. You will receive the following information and much more.

  • Are solar panel protective covers necessary?
  • What do these covers protect against?
  • What benefits do solar panel covers offer?

You may be shocked to learn solar panel protective covers are not entirely necessary, but they do serve an important purpose. I will give you all the details to make the right choice for your panels.

Solar Panels Covered in Snow

What Types of Solar Panel Covers Are Available?

Solar panel covers are used for a few different reasons. Mesh covers and abatement screens are put in place to keep birds from nesting under the panels and causing damage.

Protective panel covers shield the entire solar panel from the elements when extreme weather is expected or the panels will not be used for a long time.

There are also hard protective shell systems that can be installed over the top of solar panels. These shells are highly protective for the long term.

No matter the reason you install a solar panel protective cover, it is essential you choose the right one. The panel cover should be designed to offer protection for your specific solar panel system.

How Are Solar Panel Protective Covers Installed?

If you choose to install a solar panel protective cover, it is wise to have it professionally installed. These screens are mounted at the top of each panel and roll up or down.

Hard shells are installed using a special mounting system. This system allows the hard-shell panels to be removed when they are not needed. The protective shells stay securely in place until removed.

It is possible to install the protective covers yourself, but the process can be dangerous without the right tools and equipment. It is important to check with the manufacturer to ensure you do not void your warranty by taking a DIY approach.

Will a Solar Panel Continue to Work When It is Covered?

While one of the main purposes of covering a solar panel is to prevent damage, some owners cover their panels to also prevent energy overload when the panels are not in use.

There are grid covers that allow the solar panel to continue to absorb the sun’s energy, but these are primarily used for keeping pests out.

Many solar panel protective covers are meant to stop the absorption of solar energy, so the panels will no longer work effectively when the covers are in use. You should only cover your panels when they are not needed.

Are There Benefits to Covering Solar Panels?

Overload Prevention

One of the biggest benefits of using a solar panel protective cover is to prevent overloads. When your solar panel system is not in use, it can continue to absorb solar energy.

You may be concerned your solar panel batteries could become overcharged when not in use. Some owners also worry about the sun damaging their solar panels when they are not connected to anything.

Weather Protection

Solar panel protective covers also protect your solar panels during the event of strong inclement weather. Some parts of the country have weather extremes. Heavy snow may cause damage to the panels if it is left in place for a long time.

Cleanliness

Maintaining your solar panels is essential and includes cleaning. Owners who will be away from home for a long time may cover their solar panels to prevent them from becoming overly dirty.

Do Solar Panel Covers Protect Against Hail Damage?

Solar panels are meant to withstand a major hailstorm without becoming damaged. Solar panel manufacturers test their panels for up to one-inch hail balls. While most solar panels are resistant to hail damage, they can break under extreme force.

Although rare, some parts of the country have had hailstorms with softball-sized hail balls. If you live in an area that is prone to hail, a solar panel cover offers protection against weather extremes, such as golfball-sized hail or larger.

Do You Need to Cover Your Solar Panels?

You do not necessarily need to cover your solar panels, but covers are not a bad consideration. Because investing in solar energy requires a substantial amount of money, some homeowners cover their solar panels to give themselves peace of mind.

If you live in “Hail Alley”, which includes Colorado, Wyoming, or Nebraska, you may want to consider purchasing solar panel protective covers. These states average 7 to 9 hailstorms each year. Texas and Oklahoma are also prone to large hail events.

Should You Keep Solar Panels Covered When Installing Them?

Are you a DIYer and concerned about covering your panels while installing them? Some homeowners are concerned about installing solar panels because the panels immediately begin absorbing energy.

You may worry about electric shock during the process of installing your panels before they are hooked up entirely. If you are working with the wiring, could you be shocked by the panels?

While installing solar panels, you should be careful if the panels are connected in a series and the voltage is above 48v since you can get a shock.

In the case of DIY installations, a thick tarp or even blankets can be used to cover the panels and prevent them from absorbing energy while the panels are being installed.

You can work with uncovered solar panels as long as they feature shrouded MC connectors. You do not want to accidentally touch the connectors and receive a jolt of electricity.

Are There Any Alternatives to Solar Panel Protective Covers?

To avoid needing solar panel protective covers, make sure to purchase the very best brand. Make sure the panels are installed correctly, preferably by a professional.

Homeowners have been known to use various items to cover their solar panels, but it is important to practice caution. Not all alternatives are protective or even safe. The following are some of the items that may temporarily protect your solar panels.

  • Heavy blankets
  • Heavy Tarps
  • Cardboard
  • Sheets of plastic

While the above should not cause any damage to solar panels, they may not offer extensive protection, especially in the event of serious snow or hailstorm. For true protection, homeowners should rely on professionally made protective covers.

Do You Need to Cover Solar Panels If They are Disconnected?

Just like a battery, a solar panel has stored energy. If the panel is not connected, it cannot transfer this energy, so no damages will occur.

It is important to use charge controllers, and you likely will not need a solar panel protective cover. A charge controller stops the batteries from continuing to charge once they are full.

If your solar panels are of good quality and installed correctly, you should not be overly worried about using a protective cover. If you are concerned, it never hurts to cover your panels under certain circumstances.

References:

  • https://nexergy.solar/blog/6-ways-to-protect-your-solar-panels/
  • https://www.stablesolar.com/blog/5-ways-to-protect-your-solar-panels
  • https://www.altenergymag.com/article/2019/11/how-to-protect-solar-panels-from-environmental-damage/32177

Solar Panel Maintenance FAQ

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