As much as we wish for it, the RV lifestyle isn’t always sunshine and rainbows. Inevitably, there will be storms that delay your journey or, in the case of solar panels, threaten to break you. But don’t give up!
There are ways to weather those storms that include protecting your solar investment. As with all inclement weather, a little preparation often dictates how well you survive it.
Knowing how to protect your RV solar panels from hail will help you prepare for the worst while still hoping for the best.
How Delicate are RV Solar Panels?
Since installed RV solar panels are designed to capture as much sun as possible, their positioning can leave them vulnerable in the eye of a storm. Solar panels are typically mounted on the roof of your RV and left exposed.
While covering them would render them ineffective, this exposure can be problematic in severe weather. Most solar panels are built to withstand wind and rain, but hail is a different story.
If hail is large enough to dent your home or vehicle, it can potentially break, shatter, or dent your solar panels as well. The best way to remedy this is to be proactive in protecting your RV solar panels.
Protecting Your RV Solar Panels from Hail
Don’t worry, protecting your RV solar panels isn’t as complicated or time-consuming as it might sound. It’s straightforward and worth it to protect your long-term investments in solar panels and your RV.
Here are ways to protect your RV solar panels during a hailstorm:
Invest in Durable Solar Panels
When choosing solar panels, pay attention to their weather resistance ratings. Are they rated for high winds? Do they have a snow load? If so, they are likely to perform better in areas where a hailstorm is possible.
Most solar panels are certified to withstand winds up to 140 miles per hour and hail up to an inch in diameter falling at roughly 50 miles per hour. Check your owner’s manual to understand the severity of the conditions your panels are built to withstand.
Install Solar Panels Properly
Solar panels must be installed face up to absorb their full potential of UV rays. However, you can angle the panels at 45 degrees to combat hail. This allows the hail to glance off and minimizes the changes of direct contact.
There are also mounting options that allow you to change the angle of your solar panels quickly and efficiently. Larger hail may still inflict some damage but altering the angle of your panels can reduce the odds of hail damage.
Perhaps the best case is to invest in portable solar panels. The downside is having to set up and break down each time you move camp. But you’ll retain the option to disconnect and store your panels when the forecast looks menacing.
Use a Solar Panel Protection Cover
A solar panel protection cover provides security for your panels when they aren’t in use. The main downside is rendering your solar panels ineffective, but that’s a short-term disadvantage outweighed by the long-term benefit of keeping your solar panels healthy.
There are a few cover options that provide different levels of protection. Mesh covers create a protective layer over the panel. They absorb the impact of the hail as much as possible so the solar panel itself isn’t hit with a direct hail stone.
There are also solid covers that must be installed before the storm arrives. They provide complete protection against impacts from hail and other falling debris.
One of the best ways to protect your solar panels from hail is with a layer of methacrylate. It’s a polymer coating that forms a hard, durable protective surface. Once applied, your solar panels will be more durable while retaining the ability to capture UV rays. Think of it as a screen protector on your favorite device.
Stop by a Camping World Service Center for help with choosing, installing, covering, or repairing your solar panels.
Commit to Routine Solar Panel Maintenance & Monitoring
Regular maintenance and monitoring of your solar panels won’t prevent hail damage, but it will give you a reference point to detect damage if it occurs.
Check your solar panels routinely and monitor their power output and performance. You can also improve their performance by cleaning off dirt and dust during regular inspections.
Maintaining your RV solar panels is an important part of protecting them. It ensures they’re working as designed and allows you to detect damage before, or immediately after, it occurs.
Understanding RV Solar Panels
Protecting your RV solar panels is futile if you don’t have a clear understanding of how the panels function. To better understand how solar panels operate for your RV, check out the detailed posts below.
Since many RV enthusiasts exploring the thought of installing solar panels on their RV are also entertaining the idea of boondocking, you should understand how to boondock as well.
- How to Boondock in an RV
- Baby Steps to Boondocking: Tips for Beginner Boondockers
- 3 Types of Boondocking Every RVer Should Know About
- How to Conserve and Create Power When You’re RV Boondocking
- 3 Pieces of Equipment Every Boondocker Needs for Their RV
Oh, Hail — Don’t Forget to Check the Weather
Last but not least, check the weather forecast anytime you’re venturing out in your RV. Do a comprehensive weather check of the areas you’re traveling through, not just the destination you’re going to, and keep an eye on conditions hourly.
Doing so helps you get ahead of storms by taking cover and protecting your RV solar panels. Storms are unfortunately inevitable, but the damage they cause can be minimized with proper preparation.
Explore electric thermometers to help you monitor the weather. And remember, after every storm the sun reappears. Protecting your RV solar panels ensures you’re ready.
How do you protect your RV solar panels in a storm? Tell us in the comments below!