Wind Effect On Solar Panels

Did you ever wonder whether the wind could affect your solar panel’s ability to generate electricity? Or whether your solar panels could be blown off the roof, and is there anything you can do to protect them from the wind?

Wind blowing over your solar panels cools them, and this adds to the efficiency of the output and, in some instances, can significantly improve your productivity. The mounting systems used to secure your panels will ensure they stay secure even during stormy weather.

Wind may not be something you have considered, so let’s look at the wind and it relates to your solar panels:

  • Wind affects solar panels
  • Wind effect on solar radiation
  • Wind speeds on solar panels
  • Detect wind and protect your solar array

Understanding the effects of the wind on your solar PV system and how it can positively and negatively influence their performance is critical to their installation and performance.

Wind Tubine And Solar Panels In The Countryside
Wind Tubine And Solar Panels In The Countryside

How Does The Wind Affect Solar Panels?

Solar panels are electronic devices and, like most electronic devices, are most efficient when operating at cooler temperatures. This is why solar panels typically are as efficient in warmer climates as in moderate to temperate ones.

The electronics generate heat, and heat causes electrical resistance, reducing efficiency, but when the panels are cooler, they are more efficient with power generation.

As the wind blows over the panels and around them, the temperature inside the panels and on the surface is reduced, increasing the voltage generated. So if you thought that your PV system would be less efficient because of wind, think again!

Is Solar Radiation Affected By The Wind?

The sun’s radiation is affected by the atmospheric temperature and humidity, while wind speed was found to have little effect (if any) on solar radiation.

The wind is the result of the heating and cooling of the earth, which relates to the influence of the sun’s heat on the air and surface of the planet. Factors like clouds, rain, and humidity affect the air temperature, which has a more significant influence on solar radiation than the wind itself.

How Much Wind Force Do Solar Panels Experience?

Wind force exerted on solar panels will vary based on average wind conditions, and these will be considered. Still, in many cases where the wind has created lift under the panels, it is often the roof itself that is damaged and not the panels.

Solar panels will experience wind force that pushes down on the panel from above and pushes up from the gap underneath the panel between the panel and the roof. This can create turbulence against the ballasts and weights designed to resist the wind.

The PV industry has set codes and standards to ensure that solar panel installations meet the required standards for that area and are not subject to excessive ballast pressure exerted on the panels by the wind.

Panels are usually mounted at least 11″ from the roof edge to reduce and prevent excessive wind loading.

During severe storms like hurricanes and tornados, it is more often the roof itself that is ripped off, taking the solar panels with it, and very seldom do the panels themselves come loose from the mounting racks.

What Wind Speed Are Solar Panel Installations Rated For?

The standard rating for wind speed on installed solar panels is 140mph, and in areas prone to hurricanes and tornadoes like Florida and Ohio, solar panels are rated to withstand winds of 170mph.

To achieve this, the mounting systems and supporting roof structures may need to be reinforced to handle both the weight of the array and the potential wind forces that the array will be exposed to during the annual weather cycles.

Solar panels are very resilient to severe weather, and even severe hail often doesn’t damage them. A severe hailstorm at the National Renewable Energy Laboratory in Golden, Colorado, only damaged one panel out of 3000 installed on a large array.

Why The Mounting System Is The Main Consideration For Wind Resistance

Ground mounting systems can withstand greater wind force, while a solid roof and mounting system will perform well under all manner of windy conditions.

The type of mounting system, materials used, and installation quality are the main factors when considering the impact of wind on your solar installation. If you have a superior mounting system that is poorly installed, you run the risk of wind damage.

Truth be told, before you install your panels, check your roof for wind damage as this will indicate the roof quality and its resistance to the wind, and make sure your roof is in top condition before installing a solar PV system.

How A Southerly Wind Can Increase Efficiency Significantly

A recent study in the UK showed that southerly wind increased solar output by 20%-43%!

This was because solar parks and installations usually face South in the Northern Hemisphere, with the panels pointed skyward. This is to maximize solar exposure throughout the day.

Heat is created between solar radiation and electricity generation, causing efficiency to drop. When a southerly wind blew over the panels, the cooling effect was more significant on the southern side of the panels, thus increasing efficiency.

How Do You Protect Solar Panels From The Wind?

Knowing the wind conditions and direction can assist when installing the panels to reduce wind exposure, and using wind detectors and wind deflectors to assess wind conditions will help.

Wind deflectors, when properly installed, can add more wind downforce over the panels, reduce lift, cool the panels down, and add to efficiency. Wind detectors will give you data around wind speed, but because solar panels are outside, shielding them from the wind is virtually impossible.

Deflectors are designed to minimize turbulence and create smooth airflow over and around the panels reducing lift and improving downforce. Deflectors would be advisable if you live in an area known for strong winds.

The best defense against the wind aside from the array direction and deflectors (if needed) is a suitable and durable mounting rack and materials and a properly installed system.

Resources

General Solar Panel FAQ

What Problems Do Solar Panels Solve?

In environmental terms, solar panels can potentially solve a handful of problems, including;
1. Air pollution
2. Water pollution
3. Greenhouse gases
4. Reduction in fossil fuel use

For individuals, solar energy allows you to become completely self-sufficient when it comes to your electricity needs and can save you a lot of money in the long run.

What Are 3 Important Uses Of Solar Panels?

The three most important uses of solar panels are;
1. Solar electricity. This can be used to power almost any appliance in your home, including TVs, computers, and fridges.
2. Lighting. In addition to the use of low-power, LED lightbulbs, solar panels can provide an efficient, low-cost, and environmentally friendly way to provide lighting to homes. 
3. Portable solar. In our modern, always-connected lives, our phones, tablets, and computers are almost always with us, and all run on batteries. Portable PV chargers can help keep our batteries topped up no matter where we are, as long as there is some sun to charge them.

Do solar panels give you free electricity?

Once the cost of the array is paid in full, the energy it produces is free. There are ongoing maintenance costs, too, such as annual panel cleaning, etc. 

How much will my electric bill be with solar panels?

Suppose your solar array includes a solar battery backup system, and it is large enough to fully cover your energy usage per day. In that case, your monthly electric bill will be next to zero dollars, even with a grid-tied system. 

If your solar array does not include a solar battery backup system, then at night, your house or business will use grid electricity. That cost will vary but expect to pay from 1/3-2/3 of your average electric bill, and that cost will fluctuate seasonally. 

Do you save money with solar panels?

The simple answer is, Yes, you save money with solar panels. There is an initial upfront cost, but since solar panels are warrantied for 25 years, you will save money over time. You will also begin to see monthly savings in energy bills, but there are other ways that solar panels pay you back. Those include:
1. Adding value to your home or commercial building 
2. Monthly decreases in energy costs
3. The ability to add more energy appliances without increased monthly costs
4. The potential for tax credits for going solar

Can solar panels power a house 24-7?

Most definitely! Solar panels can certainly power a house 24-7, with the addition of a high-quality inverter and a suitable battery bank, of course. To power, a house under normal usage will require a massive solar array, though, and there will be a very expensive initial financial outlay.

Do I need to tell my energy supplier I have solar panels?

This depends on where you live, but in most cases, it’s not necessary to inform your energy supplier that you have solar panels. That said, you may be producing excess power with your solar system, in which case you may be able to sell that excess power back to energy companies.

In this case, you’ll naturally need to be in contact with them. 

What Are Solar Cells Known as and Why?

Solar cells are also called photovoltaic (PV) cells. They are called so because the term ‘photovoltaic’ literally means light i.e. photo and electricity i.e. voltaic.

These cells generate electricity through the photovoltaic effect. This effect basically causes the generation of free electrons from the semiconducting silicon material of the solar panel when sunlight hits its surface.

What Type of Solar Panels Are Most Efficient and Why?

There are currently three types of solar panels available in the market that are:
1. Monocrystalline
2. Polycrystalline
3. Thin-filmed

Among these, monocrystalline solar panels are known to be the most efficient among all others.

Does heat enter your home through the roof?

Absolutely. Heat enters your home through your roof, and on a hot day your attic can get up to 150 degrees Fahrenheit or more. Through conduction, heat from the sun warms your roof which then warms your attic and the rest of your home.

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