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QCELL G4 system, hybrid controller. weekend project. Hail protection?

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  • QCELL G4 system, hybrid controller. weekend project. Hail protection?

    Hello everyone.

    My wife and I have made the leap. We are installing 8 X 305W QCELL panels and a BP Star hybrid controller, with plans to expand soon to add either more panels or a QUALITY wind energy generator. The 8 panel starter set is enough to put us off grid with the exception of our HVAC and clothing drier.

    I have some questions about wiring in the distribution panel (breaker box) and the possibility/options of having option to flip a breaker to turn back on grid power. Easy enough, but the 240v section of my existing panel vs the new 120 only panel I am building is what confuses me. For now, and for ease of install, I think I am just going to pull each wire set from each 120 breaker and pull it over into my newly built 120 breaker panel, fed by my charge controller.

    that said... my primary question here is about hail protection.

    we live in a extreme weather area. My primary concern is hail damage.

    Is plexiglass (extruded acrylic) the way to go for hail protection? I have found a company that sells 1/8" thick 4'x8' sheets at a reasonable price.

    I figure I could go one of two ways with it:

    1. Install directly onto the panel, in contact with the metal frame and glass of the QCELL.

    2. build a (pressure treaded wood?) frame to hold each plexi, install it, raised just above the QCELL surface by about 1".

    will either of these options provide functional protection from medium to large Hail? It is not uncommon to have quarter sized and sometimes even up to golf ball size hail in our area.

    I have searched for information on QCELL hail resistance and have found relatively little. I did find some info on G5 and G6 panels, but nothing on G4. The G5 and G6 claim resistance of .90 inch hailstones at around 50mph. Something I read said they test their panels by firing 11 "hailstones" around 1" diameter at 50 MPH, but we certainly get more than 11 stones on any one surface when it hails, and as mentioned, possibly much larger than 1" diameter.

    The maker of these plexi panels is OPTIX. They claim weather and UV resistance (non-yellowing)

    am I going down the right path here?

    hoping to get some good input, as I want to get off to a solid start.

  • #2
    You may be OK without any extra protection. You will probably not be happy with extra protection.

    This report suggests 92% of the incident light will go through a plexiglas panel, with most of the remaining light reflected and very little absorbed.

    But hail will quickly dent and scuff the surface of any plastic enough to make it much less transparent, whether acrylic (Plexiglas) or polycarbonate (Lexan). Weather (blown sand, etc.) will also abrade the surface. That's why panel makers use glass.
    This story describes a massive hailstorm on a large solar array and suggests that hail did very little damage. That's why I think that you may be OK wihtout any extra protection.

    That said, please don't interpret my words as a guarantee that your panels will survive the worst storm.

    Perhaps the best solution is to install bare panels and buy hail insurance as part of your homeowner's policy. It might be more economical in the long run.
    7kW Roof PV, APsystems QS1 micros, Nissan Leaf EV