What to do if your solar panels have been damaged

Suspect that your solar panels may have been damaged? Don’t worry—we’re here to help. Though our manufacturers build them to be sustainable, solar panels do occasionally get damaged. The good news is that we’re prepared for just such a situation.

In this article, we’ll explain what to do if you suspect your panels have been damaged, the types of damages that can occur to solar panels, and how to get a hold of us if you need more information.

I think my solar panels might have been damaged. What should I do?

Sometimes it’s hard to tell whether or not your solar panels have been damaged. Maybe there was a severe hail storm in your area, which may have only sounded like it did some harm without actually doing any legitimate damage to your panels.

Maybe you can see that one or more of your panels has been hit by a golf ball, and you’re not sure what to do.

Either way, we can help.

Here’s what to do if you suspect your panels have been damaged:

1. Quickly check your solar production

Checking your production in Account Center or the Vivint Solar App for Apple or Android is the first thing to do if you suspect that one or more of your panels have been damaged.

See if you can identify a noticeable drop in production. This can be difficult considering how irregular solar production can be in extreme weather. To make it easier, we recommend checking your production after 3-5 days of clear skies. If your production seems consistent compared to the time before you suspected the damage, then your panels are probably okay, but keep reading on just in case.

Remember that damage is not the same as a lack of production. If you log in online and can’t see your solar production results, it could simply be that your internet went offline or your solar inverter was turned off.

We work to ensure your solar panels are producing energy but, keep in mind, there may be times when one or more panels go offline for other reasons. We expect there may be some fluctuation in production from panel to panel which is why we calculate the total number of panels your home will need.

If this is the case for you, try checking your solar equipment before going to step 2.

2. Look at your system

When it’s safe, and if you feel comfortable, grab a camera and walk outside to inspect your solar panels. With your feet firmly on the ground, look to see if you can visually identify any sign of damage to the panels. If possible, take pictures so we can assess the damage faster. We also recommend checking the solar equipment on your home (AC Disconnect, inverter, and breakers) to see if they’ve been damaged. If you don’t see any noticeable signs of damage, and you don’t see any noticeable dips in your solar production, then your solar energy system is probably okay. If you’re unsure for even a moment, you can always call us and we’ll verify that for you.

3. Contact us with details

If you see a noticeable dip in production or can clearly identify that your solar panels have been damaged, Contact Us. When you call or email us, please be prepared with information about the damage and how it occurred. Here are some questions we may ask:

  • What is the address where the damage occurred?
  • What is your name? (Keep in mind that if you’re not authorized to speak on behalf of the contract signer, we may ask you to call back with the contract signer on the phone.)
  • Will you please explain how you believe the damage occurred?
  • What part of the system was damaged?
  • Approximately how many units were damaged?
  • Are you able to send us pictures of the damage without getting on your roof? (If yes, please send them to help@vivintsolar.com.)
  • Is there anything else you feel we should know about the situation?
  • What’s the best method and time to get a hold of you?

How do solar panels get damaged?

Solar panels are built to last a long time; upwards of forty years.¹ Panels are made of silicon cells that are protected behind a sheet of extremely durable glass. The cells are also insulated and the glass is sealed to prevent water from seeping through.

However, because they are outside of your home, they are exposed to the elements and it’s possible they could be damaged. Though we can’t predict everything that could potentially happen, there are three main causes of damages to solar panels:

  • Falling debris/foreign material: Though we don’t think about it that often, it’s possible for stuff to fall from somewhere and strike your panels, like a broken tree branch, a golf ball (more common than you’d think), or pieces of metal (from things like a drone or—disturbingly enough—an aircraft.)
  • Weather/natural disasters: This is exactly what it sounds like—damage due to natural occurrences or extreme weather. Fire, hail, lightning, heavy snow buildup, and lava are all potential hazards to your solar panels.
  • Sun Exposure: Yes, we see the contradiction—the thing that needs sunlight to work can also be harmed if it gets too much sunlight. What can we say? Solar is weird sometimes. The idea is that extreme heat can cause your solar panels to slow down and produce less energy over time. Though we can’t stop the potentially negative impact that the sun has on your panels, we do account for the potential reduction in panel efficiency when we custom design your solar energy system. Just something to keep in mind.

¹Dickie, Paul M. “Regional Workshop on Solar Power Generation Using Photovoltaic Technology.” Lynne Rienner Publishers, September 1995, London, UK. p. 120.

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