FEMA Recommends Microinverters in Rooftop Solar Advisory

Nov 26, 2018

FEMA Recommends Microinverters in Rooftop Solar Advisory

In the wake of Hurricanes Irma and Maria last year, FEMA has released a new report to help homeowners and solar professionals protect their solar systems from high velocity winds. The official report, titled Rooftop Solar Panel Attachment: Design, Installation, and Maintenance, provides recommendations on what to do if you’re considering installing a solar system in a hurricane-prone area, as well as steps that current system owners can take to prepare before a hurricane makes landfall.


FEMA recommends microinverters

FEMA provides guidelines on what type of equipment is best suited to withstand powerful winds, recommending microinverters over central and string inverters. Here is FEMA’s official statement on the advantage of microinverters:

We “recommend using microinverters where appropriate. Although these generally cost more than central or string inverters; they have several advantages. Unlike string inverters, microinverters have a greater chance of allowing undamaged panels of a PV array to continue to produce electrical power even if one panel is blown away or damaged by wind-borne debris. In an array using string inverters, if one panel is damaged, all the panels on the string will be offline.”

The report also provides additional recommendations to homeowners who currently own or are planning on installing a solar system in hurricane-prone areas. You can read more about FEMA's recommendations below, as well as check out what an installer in Florida, May Electric Solar, has to say about it:

 

 


What to consider before purchasing a solar system

Talk to your installer about anticipated wind loads in your area, and they can help create a system design that best suits your needs. Looking for an installer in your area? Try our Enphase Installer Network.


What to consider if you already have a solar system
FEMA recommends hiring a solar professional to conduct a wind vulnerability assessment to help you identify whether any corrective action needs to be taken to improve your system’s ability to withstand high winds.

How to maintain a solar system in a hurricane-prone area
Do an annual check -- or enlist a solar professional to help you -- to ensure the tightness of your system’s bolted connections using a torque wrench, as well as checking all of the panel clamps and doing spot-checks on bolts that connect rails with clip angles or posts. If this is something you need assistance with, you can contact a local installer to help with the annual maintenance.

How to prepare before a hurricane makes landfall
If a hurricane is headed your direction, prepare your system by removing debris from roof drains and gutters, removing or replacing loose panels, and, if time allows, checking the tightness of the system’s bolted connections.

What to do after a severe wind storm or hurricane
Once the wind storm or hurricane has passed, check your system and your roof covering for any potential damage from wind-borne panels or other debris. If any panels need to be removed, replaced, or temporarily secured, you may want to work with a local installer to help with the repairs. FEMA also recommends again checking the tightness of the system’s bolted connections, although this can be done a few months after the storm passes if necessary.

Read the full report
 

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