Semper Solaris | How are rooftop solar panels affected during earthquakes?

Solar Panel Bolt

Rooftop Solar Panels and Earthquakes


What happens when the earth rocks?

In California, earthquakes are a reality of life; faultlines run throughout the state from the northern San Andreas fault in San Francisco thru the San Fernando Valley and link up with the very complex systems around the San Jacinto fault and others in the Orange, Riverside and San Diego areas. Scientists are discovering more faultlines every day.

Only recently there was a 4.5 centered in Riverside County and were felt as far away as Fallbrook. It is here in the Golden State that rooftop installations are more prevalent than anywhere in the country. And Fallbrook is among the top ten cities where solar is a growing trend.

Earthquake Damage to Solar Installations

Solar is relatively new and over the past ten years has been growing. But there is little data on the actual damage done to solar panels in an earthquake. Panels are commonly tested for their strength and durability and built to withstand harsh weather and extreme winds, hail, and snow.

The Roof Is the Main Thing

The first consideration is the weight of the panels on the roof. The panels are lightweight, but the roof must be inspected and depending on the age of the roof, repaired or replaced.

At Semper Solaris, we are experts at roof construction repair and design. You need a reliable contractor to inspect the roof for the feasibility of installing solar thoroughly.

Will the glass break?

Solar panels are constructed with tempered glass built to take sizeable hits, so the risk of damage is relatively low, like the windshield of a car.

What about panels falling off the roof?

With the proper mounting of the panels on a sturdy roof, the risk of them sliding off the roof is low given how light they are. Solar mounts are attached to hold the panels in place. But the brackets and mounting of the system must be robust to be able to withstand movement either from wind or seismic activity. Semper Solaris uses the very best solar roof mount system from Ironridge.com. They build the most robust rooftop solar mounts on the market. They have been tested and proven in extreme environments.

Are there building codes for Solar systems?

Guidelines for earthquake safety in the California Building codes have been in place since the 1980 ’s, but the specifications were not initially intended to include solar panels. The California building code has added guidelines for solar panels but specifying only wind and weather conditions.

But that is rapidly changing. The Structural Engineers Association of California (SEAOC), has done studies and testing specifically for Solar panels on roofs and has published standards for seismic activity which are being adopted by manufacturers and installers.

Things to consider

The risks to solar panels during an earthquake are relatively low, and stricter standards are being implemented to make it even better. Wind is the main issue that is of concern especially in hurricane country, and the wind load has a lot of resistance to what an earthquake can do. The panels are light and made of durable tempered glass. So, the condition of your roof is the primary concern in the decision to install Solar panels.

Contact Semper Solaris, experts in roofing, to inspect your roof and make sure it is ready for your new solar installation.


Helping Veterans One Solar System at a Time

The Semper Cares Initiative was founded to help deserving veterans get relief from high electricity prices by blessing them with energy independence and the security of a secure roof over their heads.

Semper Cares