Anatomy Golf Ball Damage


Most homeowners with homes located on golf courses will soon experience golf balls hitting their solar panels.  The immediate question that comes to mind is 'will my solar system be damaged?'

Yes, golf ball damage creates real problems

Broken Panel 3a.jpg

Broken Glass

Golf balls initially fracture the glass. Sometimes leaving a circular impression in the broken glass, sometimes fracturing the entire surface of the glass.

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Continual expansion of the initial impact area

Golf balls that hit the panels head-on are the biggest problem.  Glancing balls that come in from the side are less likely to cause immediate damage.

The direct hits impart the most energy.

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Golf balls typically fall at about 70mph, and have a very high spin rate, typically in the range of 3,000rpm. As the golf ball hits the glass, the  the kinetic energy from the falling motion and the energy of the spin are both transferred into the glass. Absorption of the energy causes the glass to fracture.

Impact on Solar Performance

At times, a broken panel might not seem to be a problem; the solar performance may continue as normal.  Typically there is only a slight reduction of overall performance, probably due to the single damaged panel not producing energy.

Eventually, the effects of daily heating and cooling  will cause enlargement of the area of broken glass. With the larger area of fractured glass, comes more and more penetration of moisture into the electrical components under the glass.Expanded solar panel layers 1a.jpg

Eventually, the water getting into the solar module will be cause a short between the internal solar cells and the metal frame of the solar panel. This will be detected as a 'ground fault' by the inverter(s). Such a fault will cause the entire solar system to shut down, and go into an inactive 'fault' state. All electrical production of the system will stop.  This is the point where golf ball damage becomes a financial issue.

Broken Panels Prevent Cleaning

The normal process for cleaning solar panels is to use a brushing  action along with a water rinse.  If the glass of a solar panel is fractured, the scrubbing action of the brush will dislodge the chards of broken glass, spreading them across the roof surface. Eventually they will be transported down the gutter, and pile up under the downspout.  The pressure of the brushing action will very likely cause the area of broken glass to become larger as well. The associated water spray rinse effectively works the water into the inner workings of the solar panel.

Brush and water spray to clean solar panels

Prevention is the Best Approach

Adding nylon netting to absorb the energy of incoming golf balls provides the most effective protection. Preventing the damage enables homeowners to avoid the return to high electric bills. Additionally, haggling with insurance companies over loss claims and resultant rate  increases can be avoided.

A well engineered net solution should be positioned to prevent direct impact from falling golf balls, and be easily removable to facilitate cleaning of solar arrays.

Solar Golf Net and Support Brackets


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