Can Solar Panels Fall or Be Blown Off a Roof?


Your roof and the four walls of your home are your first line of defense. They protect you, your family, and your property against intruders and the elements. Naturally, you want to do everything you can to ensure their safety.

Solar panels present building owners with the opportunity to earn money with their property by selling the excess electricity they generate. They also allow property owners to reduce the cost of heating and cooling their property by providing a free source of energy for those purposes.

Many homeowners worry about whether installing solar on their roofs compromises the structural integrity of their building. Can the solar panels be blown off a roof? Will they tear the whole roof off along with them?

Can Solar Panels Fall Off the Roof?

When installed correctly by a professional using the right material and equipment, a solar panel will not fall off a roof. This is because solar panels are securely attached to the roof using a mounting system.

Also, find out if You Can Walk on Solar Roof Tiles? Is it Safe!

What Is a Solar Panel Mounting System?

Mounting systems are important to how a solar system works. Firstly, they secure the solar panels to protect them from theft and of course from potential damage caused by movement. Secondly, they influence how efficiently a solar panel system will produce energy.

There are different types of mounting systems to choose from. The main options for residential, commercial, and industrial applications are roof-mounted, ground-mounted, and tracking system mounted.

Three Types of Solar Panels Mounting Systems

1- Roof-mounted solar

This is the most popular because it converts what would otherwise be wasted space, your roof, into optimized space. It’s also the only feasible option for buildings in urban areas where there is no space on the ground.

One of the main attractions of roof-mounted solar is that the solar panels are mounted high off the ground where they can’t be stolen or tampered with.

Also, check out : Can Solar Panels Be Used as A Roof? Pros & Cons

2- Ground-mounted solar

With ground-mounted solar, there is the potential for installing more solar panels if you have more space on the ground and limited roof space. Ground-mounted installations place solar panels within easy reach. This makes it easier for you to maintain them. It also makes them more vulnerable to theft or vandalism.

One way to counter this is to pole-mount the solar panels. This is a different type of ground-mount where the solar panels are installed on tall poles instead of racks.

3- Tracking system mounted solar

With ground-mounted and roof-mounted systems, the solar panels are fixed in one position. Tracking system mounted solar systems allow the solar panels to swivel and tilt to follow the movement of the sun throughout the day. This ensures the maximum efficiency of the solar panels.

Tracking system mounted solar panels generate the most energy but are also the most expensive system to set up and maintain.

Can Solar Panels Fly Off?

Solar panels will not fly off. They are heavy enough to stay in place and they are fixed securely in place using either ground mounting, roof mounting, or tracking mounting systems.

How Much Wind Can Solar Panels Withstand?

Solar panels can withstand winds of up 120 mph. Hailstorms and extreme wind forces brought on by hurricanes and tornados present the biggest threat of damage to a solar panel. Fortunately, solar panels are designed with this taken into consideration.

Solar systems are installed following strict building codes. The chances of your solar panels being ripped off your roof are next to none if they are installed according to the recommended building codes. This is the case, even in areas that see wind speeds of 160 mph like Florida or Texas. Installations are required to be able to withstand those wind speeds.

Huge bolts are used to secure the solar panels in place to ensure they resist the “uplift” caused by winds. In some cases, these bolts are secured to the roof beams for added stability.

Different Types of Roof Mounting Systems

There are several ways in which solar panels can be installed on a roof.

1- Flush mounts

This is the simplest mounting system. The solar panels are installed flush with the roof. There is a 2–4-inch gap between the solar panel and the roof to allow for airflow and cooling. Flush mounts are a better option for high wind areas as they reduce the wind load on the solar panels.

Flush mounts sometimes require roof penetration which increases the risk of leaks. (Source)

2- Ballasted mounts

Though similar to flush mounts, ballasted mounts differ in that they use weights to hold the solar panels in place. Ballast mounts are quicker and cheaper to install. They also do not need roof penetration and they allow for more panel tilt which increases sun exposure.

The added weights increase the load on your roof and they are not suited for high-wind areas.

3- Hybrid mounts

Combine flush and ballast mounts. They require minimal roof penetration and allow some flexibility in customizing for load-bearing and wind. They are however more expensive and take up more space on your roof.

What Type of Roof Do You Need for Solar Panels?

Any type of roof can have solar panels installed on them as long as the right materials are used and they are installed correctly.

Each roof might call for a different method of installation but solar panels can be securely installed on asphalt shingle, standing seam or corrugated metal, and EPMD rubber roofs. All these are different roof material surfaces on which solar can and has been installed.

Also, find out “Can Solar Panels Be Used as A Roof? Pros & Cons

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Can Solar Panels Be Installed on A Metal Roof? Factors to Consider!

How Long Do Solar Panels on The Roof Last?

Solar panels have a lifespan of 25 years. That is the warranty that most manufacturers place on their solar panels. There are, however, solar panels that have been in operation for 40 years.

While solar panels have a sticker lifespan of 25 years this does not mean that at the 25-year mark they will suddenly die on you and stop producing energy. (Source)

For more on this topic, we recommend that you check out our post “Do Solar Panels Extend Roof Life (or Weaken It)?

The 25 years means the solar panels will not be producing as much energy as they did when they were first installed. The energy output drops but it still produces.

For as long as they are not critically damaged you can expect a solar panel to continue working for decades. As with any device, however, they will experience a decline in their performance. For solar panels, this is termed the panel degradation rate.

A study by the National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) puts the degradation of a solar panel at about 0.8 percent per year. This means a solar panel will experience a reduction in output by 0.8 percent. Some premium high-end solar panel manufacturers put their panel degradation at 0.3 percent. (Source)

What this means is that by year 25, your solar panel will be producing somewhere around 80% of the electricity it used to when you first installed it. All in all, that is still a decent performance.

sherifjallad

I am a very well-experienced techie civil engineer who’s extensively interested in solar panel technology and even more captivated by the potential of solar panels in supporting individual residential units.

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