Freak Hailstorms Hammer SE QLD Solar Owners

Solar panels are generally pretty tough, but there are limits to what they can handle as demonstrated by the aftermath of freak hailstorms on Saturday in parts of South-East Queensland.

As we mentioned back in 2017 when touching on the topic of solar panels and hail, hail testing is mandatory under Australian Standards. To pass the Moderate Hail Test, solar panels must be able to survive 25mm diameter ice balls fired at 23m/s on 11 points across the module. To pass the Severe Hail Damage Resistance Test, a module needs to survive 75mm hail under the same testing conditions.

A 25mm hailstone is pretty big, and 75mm huge. But the hailstones seen in some areas on Saturday were gigantic. According to the ABC, hail up to 14 centimetres was reported at Forestdale, south of Brisbane.

Here are some examples of the resulting solar panel carnage in various places:

Also demonstrating the ferocity of some of the storms, this video shows hail that had punched through a home’s roof, insulation and ceiling.

That solar panels couldn’t survive this sort of onslaught is hardly surprising, but incredibly distressing for households that sustained any sort of hail damage. Solar panels, roof tiles, cars etc. can be replaced; but lives can’t – so a bit of good news was there didn’t appear to be any serious injuries or loss of life from the events.

Storm Damage – Solar Power System Safety

Solar systems can continue to generate power from the panels up to the inverter even if panels are damaged or if mains power has been disconnected as result of storm activity. Energex advises:

  • Follow the shutdown procedures if your roof or system has been damaged or you’re concerned about the integrity of your system.
  • Don’t attempt to reconnect your solar PV system or access your roof after severe storms or if your roof is damaged. Contact a CEC accredited installer to recommission the system for you. Or, contact a licensed electrical contractor to check your system and ensure it’s safe.

On a related note, Ergon warns in this handy guide that during a flood event, do not attempt to turn off a solar system if any of the components are covered in water or if parts of the system are still wet – and keep well away.

Hail, Solar Panels And Insurance

According to CHOICE, solar panels are considered to be part of your building, so they should be covered by a home and contents insurance policy assuming it includes severe weather events such as hail storms. However, CHOICE advises solar power system owners to contact their insurers to increase the building sum insured.

Yesterday, the Insurance Council of Australia (ICA) declared a catastrophe for damage caused by the hailstorm event. The ICA says by 2pm Sunday insurers had received more than 5,000 claims, with insured losses estimated at $60 million by that point.

“About 60 per cent of claims are for damage to motor vehicles, and 40 per cent for damage to houses – mainly to roofs, skylights and solar panels, and interior damage to a significant proportion of homes,” stated ICA.

The Council said insurers were expecting an influx of new claims today. It also warned of what it called “disaster chasers” that were already door-knocking.

“They may offer cash repairs, or ask you to sign a contract and claim your insurer will pay for everything. Speak to your insurer before you authorise any work.”

About Michael Bloch

Michael caught the solar power bug after purchasing components to cobble together a small off-grid PV system in 2008. He's been reporting on Australian and international solar energy news ever since.

Comments

  1. Oh my god, “ so it has now been ADMITTED that ‘ Electrical Contractors ‘ are valid & qualified to do solar work ? “
    # Thanks for finally ADMITTING TO IT 👍 ( as, I have always stated it was so ! )

    Don’t attempt to reconnect your solar PV system or access your roof after severe storms or if your roof is damaged. Contact a CEC accredited installer to recommission the system for you.[ # Or, contact a licensed electrical contractor to check your system and ensure it’s safe ]

    • Sorry, but that isn’t true for solar installations any more than it is for mains/12VDC systems in recreational vehicles. Both have technical and practical aspects that fall well beyond the knowledge and experience of any domestic or industrial electrician AND engineer

  2. Bert Grommen says

    Hi, we are living n Springfield lakes in our own townhouse or unit ,which the solar got damaged by the recent hail storm. But how can I find out if the solar could be covered, according the body corporate we are not covered, will the Queensland state cover this, we have contents insurance for the townhouse which look like this is not covered in the contents. Hopefully you can give me a idea what to do.
    Regards
    Bert Grommen.

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