Safe or Sorry? Solar Energy Systems and Hurricanes

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In light of hurricane Dorian’s recent close call with Florida, Optimus Solar has been fielding questions regarding solar energy systems’ ability to withstand strong storm conditions.  It’s important to remember that like all building components, solar energy systems are subject to the Florida Building Code, permitting, and inspections.  More than that though, the technology, engineering, and installation techniques have moved the industry forward by leaps and bounds over the past 10 years, and solar is safe to install on homes and businesses.

Generally in Florida’s non-coastal areas, solar energy systems are required to be designed, engineered and permitted to withstand 140 mph winds.  This means that if there is an issue with a properly-installed solar energy system from winds, chances are very high that there is more damage to the overall structure present. Optimus Solar advises all of our clients to add their solar energy system to their insurance policy so damages fall within claims made.

Many people ask us about the risks of roof-penetrating systems during major storms. We have good news for you on that front. Sloped Roof solar energy systems are attached by a series of ‘feet’ or brackets that penetrate the roof (asphalt shingle, metal, tile, slate) and affix, in most cases, to the truss chord under the roof deck. This installation creates an extremely-strong system capable of withstanding almost all hurricane-force winds that come inland in Florida.  Proper installation by professional installers at Optimus Solar ensure installation meets or exceeds engineered standards.

The technology in design has come so far that flat roofs now require few to no penetrations while complying with wind codes. Flat roofs use ballasted systems. The panels are held down by cradles containing weighted blocks.  When combined with wind guards and lower angles of install, these ballasted systems allow large-scale flat roofs to have solar energy systems installed without the need for roof penetrations.  This provides owners an extra level of peace of mind, knowing their roof remains intact for the life of the system.

Through advances in component design, quality engineering and code compliance, solar energy systems are safe during most storm conditions.  While extreme weather events may ultimately damage a solar energy system, solar does not increase storm risk when properly permitted and installed.