With the rising popularity of solar energy, people are eager to learn more about how it works and whether their home is a good candidate for rooftop panels.
And one of the most common questions is, “Are solar panels waterproof?”
The short answer is yes. Solar panels are waterproof and are designed to withstand harsh elements, including heavy rain, wind, snow, and hail.
In this article, I’ll walk you step by step through the different ways solar panels are waterproofed and how they help protect your home from water damage.
So, without further ado, let’s dive in.
- Solar panels are waterproof and made of durable materials that can withstand extreme weather conditions.
- The IP rating of solar panels determines their waterproofing ability and how well they can withstand dust, sand, and other debris.
- The IP rating consists of two numbers: the first indicates protection against solid objects and the second is for protection against liquids.
- The most vulnerable part of the solar panel is its junction box, which might cause a short circuit when damaged.
What Do Different IP Ratings Denote for Water Resistance?
Solar panels are made of materials that are resistant to water and moisture.
Solar panels are usually shielded with a thin glass layer on the front and covered by another sheet on the back which is made from a durable, polymer-based material.
The combination of these two layers with a metal frame and specialized sealant glue ensures that the solar panel is water-resistant and super durable.
In fact, solar panels are so resilient that you can even walk on them!
But how do you determine just how waterproof a solar panel is?
The answer to this question lies in the IP (Ingress Protection) Rating system.
This rating system consists of two numbers. The first number depicts the protection level against solid objects and the second one is used for protection against water.
Here are the most common IP ratings that you’ll find on solar panels:
- IP65: A solar panel with this rating can withstand a water jet from any direction with a nozzle size of 6.3 mm when it has a pressure rating of 30kPa and sprays 12.5 liters per minute for 15 minutes at 3 meters away. This rating is enough to protect it against rain, snow, and low-pressure water jets.
- IP66: This rating means that the solar panel is resistant to powerful jet sprays from any direction with a nozzle size of 12.5 mm and a pressure rating of 100kPa at 100 liters per minute for 3 minutes at 3 meters away.
- IP67: Solar panels with this rating are able to withstand continuous immersion of up to 1 meter at the bottom of the device and 15 cm from the top for 30 minutes.
- IP68: This is the highest rating when it comes to water resistance. Solar panels with this rating are able to withstand complete and continuous immersion at depths of more than 1 meter for an extended period of time.
There are solar panels out there with ratings lower than IP65 such as IP44 and IP55.
However, I don’t recommend you settle for anything less than an IP65 rating as they won’t handle some weather conditions such as heavy rain, stormy weather, and even snow that can reduce your solar panel efficiency.
What Parts in the Solar Panel Are Prone to Water Damage?
The wiring and junction boxes of the solar panel are prone to water damage.
These parts are usually enclosed in plastic casings to protect them from rain and moisture on the panel surface.
However, sometimes these casings can wear over time and get brittle or even crack, leaving the wiring and junction boxes exposed to the elements.
In this case, when the water enters the casing of the solar panel, it will cause a short circuit in the wiring and junction box, potentially damaging them.
To prevent this kind of issue, I recommend you check your solar panel’s wiring and junction box at least every 6 months to make sure they are still in good condition.
But be careful not to get in direct contact with the wiring or junction box as it may cause an electric shock, especially if they are wet.
How to Protect Your Solar Panels from Water Damage?
1. Use a Layer of Methacrylate
Methacrylate is a monomer that is used in polymer plastic sheets.
It is a highly resistant material against rain, snow, and especially hail that can cause serious damage to solar panels.
You can either spray it on the surface of the panel or use a thin sheet of methacrylate to cover the entire panel.
The main benefit of using this material is that it’s transparent and won’t reduce the amount of sunlight that enters the panel.
So, you don’t have to worry about it blocking the sunlight and reducing your solar panel’s efficiency.
But you should avoid parts that conduct electricity, such as the wiring and junction boxes when spraying methacrylate on your solar panel.
This is because the methacrylate can corrode the metal components and cause them to malfunction.
This is why I prefer to use a thin sheet of methacrylate to cover the entire solar panel instead and avoid any potential problems.
2. Apply an Aquarium Sealant
As we know, aquariums are constantly exposed to water and you often need an extra layer of protection to keep the tank from leaking.
This layer of protection is called an aquarium sealant.
It’s a special kind of silicone sealant that prevents water from leaking out of the tank.
This is especially useful if you are dealing with heavy rains or hail in your area as it will protect the wiring and junction boxes from getting wet.
I’ve been using this sealant on my solar panels for the past 5 years and it has saved my wiring system from 2 major hail storms.
Are All Solar Panels Waterproof?
All solar panels are waterproof, however, they do come with an IP rating that determines their ability to withstand water.
Can You Leave Solar Panels Out in the Rain?
You can leave solar panels out in the rain. But if you are dealing with extreme weather conditions, it’d be better to cover the solar panel with a protective layer to prevent any water damage.
Can Solar Panels Go Underwater?
Solar panels can go underwater. However, their ability to withstand the underwater pressure depends on the IP rating of the panel.
As promised, we have discussed what waterproofing is, why it’s important for solar panels, and how to protect them from water damage.
And if you ask me, I’d recommend using a layer of methacrylate and an aquarium sealant to protect your solar panel from water damage.
You should also never go for less than an IP65 rating when purchasing a solar panel to ensure it’s waterproof.
Do you still have questions? If so, feel free to drop them in the comments below.