As we write this blog, Tropical Storm Nicole is on the move. Currently, the storm is battering the Bahamas and is predicted to develop into a full-blown hurricane that will move into Florida by this evening. Unfortunately, many places in Florida are still recovering from Hurricane Ian, which hit just over a month ago. But one place that found itself relatively unaffected by Ian was Babcock Ranch — a 100% solar-powered community.
Babcock Ranch, which is located about 12 miles northeast of Fort Myers, Florida, calls itself “America’s first solar-powered town.” And when Hurricane Ian made its landfall in late September, millions of homes in Florida lost power. But in Babcock Ranch, all the lights stayed on.
Keep reading to learn more about this 100% solar community and its climate resiliency, the durability of solar panels, and how solar panels stack up to different types of extreme weather.
Solar Panels in Babcock Ranch vs. Hurricane Ian
By all accounts, Babcock Ranch built climate resiliency into the fabric of its town design. According to a CNN profile:
“The streets in this meticulously planned neighborhood were designed to flood so houses don’t. Native landscaping along roads helps control storm water. Power and internet lines are buried to avoid wind damage. This is all in addition to being built to Florida’s robust building codes.”
Babcock Ranch boasts an array of 700,000 individual solar panels, and this generates more than enough electricity for the town’s 2,000 residents. Some homeowners have even installed solar panels on their own roofs.
The town’s focus on renewable energy — also evident in the fact that many residents drive electric vehicles — is in stark contrast to the rest of the state, where the majority of energy production comes from the burning of natural gas.
When Hurricane Ian arrived on September 28, Babcock Ranch fared just as well as it was designed to. While many other cities and towns in Florida lost power, internet access, and more, Babcock Ranch’s solar grid steadfastly continued providing electricity.
While the storm took down trees and cosmetically damaged several homes in the area, there was no major damage to speak of. And the solar panels proved they could withstand the Category 5 storm.
How is the Durability of Solar Panels?
If that story isn’t enough to convince you that solar panels are durable, here are some additional points to consider.
First, quality solar panel manufacturers are continuously upgrading the manufacturing processes to ensure increased longevity and strength for their solar panels. Additionally, industry standards for solar panel manufacturing have been steadily increasing and expanding as the technology becomes more widely adopted.
In late 2019, the U.S. Department of Energy announced a $128 million funding of projects to advance solar technologies. This includes the manufacturing process to continue to improve the lasting potential as well as eventually making solar power more accessible to American homeowners through lowered costs.
Still skeptical about the durability of solar panels? Here’s a video from one of our KC Solar suppliers based in Texas. They tested their solar panels in some of the most extreme cases and made this video so people can see for themselves how strong solar panels are.
Spoiler alert: Even when an armored vehicle was run over them, the solar panels held strong.
How Solar Panels Withstand Severe Weather Events
Of course, for solar panels in Kansas City, hurricanes aren’t one of our top worries. But severe thunderstorms, hail, extreme temperatures, and tornadoes are very real concerns that might make you question the durability of solar panels. How do solar panels stand up to these threats?
Heavy rain: Solar panels will not be impacted by rain as long as your home’s electrical wiring systems are still intact. And if you have roof-mounted solar panels, you won’t have to be concerned about flash floods. But even those who have a ground-mounted array shouldn’t worry too much about flooding. Good solar installers keep this in mind when completing your project and often have solutions to ensure flooding won’t impact your system.
Hail damage: Solar panel manufacturers also keep the potential risk of hail in mind throughout the design and build process. They test them to ensure they’re able to stand up to potential risks. And those studies have held up to the test of reality. In 2017, the National Renewable Energy Laboratory’s main campus in Golden, Colorado, experienced a severe hailstorm. Out of 3,000 solar panels on their buildings, only one panel was broken as a result.
Extreme temperatures: Anyone who lives in Kansas City or the Midwest in general knows about the extreme temperatures we get in the summer and winter. Fortunately, solar panels are not generally impacted by temperature until they hit 149 degrees Fahrenheit. Even at that point, their efficiency only decreases slightly. And in fact, solar panels often function at their best in cold weather. (Let’s be honest: If it’s hitting 149 degrees Fahrenheit, we’ve got bigger problems than whether our solar panels are functioning at their best.)
Tornadoes: Tornadoes are one of the biggest natural disasters that Kansas and Missouri residents often have to deal with. But your solar panels may not be as worried as you are — solar panels can withstand extreme wind speeds up to 170 miles per hour. They can also be a great tool for helping a community recover in the aftermath of an extreme weather event that knocks out part of the electric grid.
Start Your Switch To Solar Today
If you are looking for the best solar company in Kansas City, look no further than KC Solar. We are here to discuss all your concerns about solar panel durability, severe Midwest weather, and more. We are your local Kansas City solar panel installation experts.
Once you schedule a no-pressure site visit, our experts will help you understand what solar system specifications would be best for your home or business. We can also help you understand all your options, including the Evergy Solar Program.
KC Solar is the only local solar company in Kansas City with KC natives who own and operate the daily activities of the business. We are your Kansas City Solar Panel experts. And solar panel installation in Kansas City is our passion.
And be sure to download our Free Solar Panel Buying Guide for more information.