Solar PV design in high wind areas

Solar PV design in high wind areas

During design of solar mounting system to site condition, we often ask customers what will be the design wind speed, many just Google weather data online and inform us design to 5m/s. This article is about solar system in high wind area, you will have an understanding of building code.

Weather events like hurricanes are accompanied by wind speeds up to 200 miles per hour, and tornadoes can bring even higher speeds that threaten to damage rooftop and ground-mounted solar energy systems. It is important to know how solar energy systems hold up, and if they can be reliable resiliency in the event of extreme wind events that may knock out parts of the electric grid.

Generally, solar panels are highly resistant to damage from windy conditions. In fact, most in the market are rated to withstand significant pressure specifically from wind. The limiting factor for solar panel wind resistance is almost never the panels themselves. In most instances where wind causes damage to a solar array, failures occur due to weaknesses in the racking system or in the roof that your panels are mounted to.

When wind blows across a roof with solar panels, it passes through the small space that typically exists between the panels and the roof (or between your panels and the ground in the case of ground-mounted systems), causing a large amount of uplift to the panels. This phenomenon is capable of tearing panels from their mounts, or the mounts from the roof or ground. In the most extreme cases, solar panels may stay anchored down, but uplift from strong winds can tear sections of your roof off. Cases like these show that a well-built solar racking system may be more resistant to high winds than your roof itself.

Another source of panel damage in wind storms can be flying debris. Although more unpredictable than wind alone, due to the variety of sizes and types of materials that can be blown around in a storm, solar panels have proven to be remarkably resistant to impact from wind-blown debri in the past. This is an encouraging reminder that solar panels are hardy devices capable of surviving varying weather events.

Building codes promote wind resistant solar arrays

If you live in an area with frequent hurricanes, your local government may have policies that mandate a level of durability for rooftop solar arrays. For example, in some areas of Philippines, Australia, Caribbean Sea area where hurricane season predictably brings extreme winds every year, solar panels must be installed to withstand winds up to 80m/s. This requires solar installers to test their panels and racking equipment to ensure that they will remain anchored to your roof in hurricane-level winds.

Most solar installers follow engineering guidelines set by the government in their minimum design loads standards book. There is ASCE 7-10 in USA, AS/NZS 1170 in Australia and New Zealand, JIS:8955 in Japan etc. The building codes ensures local solar installers are abiding by national building standards and calculations.

Solar mounting system by Solaracks complies with JIS, AS 1170 standard, load calculation can be provided to each project within 24 hours. Welcome enquire with Solaracks team at [email protected] for solar mounting system design and quote.


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