As per research conducted by the Solar Technical Assistance Team (STAT), the productive life of a solar panel degrades at the rate of 0.5% every year.

However, this percentage could be higher in areas experiencing extreme temperatures. What is interesting to note is that you can slow down this degradation rate by protecting your solar panels well.

Not familiar with that term? If you were under the impression that a low-maintenance solar panel system can be left on its own, it cannot. Though these systems need little scrutiny, there are ways you can extend their life. Thankfully, that way is not through surveillance or hefty maintenance work but a simple panel protective covering.

So, what is solar panel covering all about? Read more to find out.

Key Takeaways

  • Solar panel protective covers are essential for prolonging the lifespan of solar panels and safeguarding them against damage caused by hail, rainstorms, dust, and soot.
  • Protective covers should be used during extended periods of non-use or in areas with extreme temperatures to prevent overheating and temperature-related efficiency loss.
  • The type of protective cover used can impact the solar panel’s efficiency, with grid or mesh covers allowing continued energy absorption. In contrast, manufacturer-created covers may reduce or prevent absorption, especially for thin-film panels.

What are Solar Panel Protective Covers, and Are They Necessary?

Like your electronic devices, such as laptops, smartphones, etc., that require a cover or sleeve to protect them and maintain their longevity, a solar panel system also needs a protection cover.

Under normal circumstances, when the weather outside is nothing suspicious, and you wish to use your solar panels as usual, you need not cover them. Solar panel covers need not be worn over the panels every night.

However, if you’re going for an extended vacation and will not use the solar panels, you should ideally cover them. This is also important because weather conditions can change anytime.

The cover will protect solar panels from hail, excessive rain, dust, etc.

Solar Panels on Roof

What do Solar Panel Covers Protect Against?

As mentioned above, solar panel covers protect against different weather conditions. Let’s discuss each in a bit more detail –


Hail is much more damaging than snow because it is solid and hard ice. Now, if it were just hailstones falling on your solar panel system, it would not be a matter of much concern.

However, what is truly detrimental is the speed at which hailstones fall, which can sometimes be as fast as 10 miles per hour! With such speed, hailstorms can easily cause solar panels physical damage or reduce their efficiency.

Plus, a lot of solar panel warranties do not cover hailstorms. Though modern technology has enabled the production of solar panels that resist severe hailstorms, it is always better to be safe than sorry. So, protect your solar panels with a cover.


The answer is a resounding yes if you wonder whether solar panels function under rainy climatic conditions. However, ensuring high performance may be challenging. This is mainly due to two reasons – if the rainstorm is accompanied by thunder and lightning (most of them are), the solar panel’s ability to convert energy into electricity is hampered.

Secondly, all solar panels, monocrystalline, polycrystalline, or thin film, contain solar cells enclosed within a protective glass covering. The rainwater may seep into this covering and damage it.

The panels’ efficiency will diminish if it reaches the solar cells responsible for converting solar energy into a directional current. A protective covering protects against such damages.


Finally, this one is often given little to no notice – solar panel performance will be significantly impacted by soot, dust, or grime. Though solar companies manufacture panels with dust-resistant properties, it is natural for them to undergo wear and tear sitting on the roof space of your property.

Several studies have shown that the accumulation of soot, dust, and such tiny particles can affect solar panel performance by a whopping 50%! And if electrical input is reduced by half, your energy bills will increase 2X.

Instead of putting yourself through such hassles, you can protect your solar panels using a reliable covering.

Solar Panels

When to Use Solar Panel Protective Covers

Yes, you need to cover your solar panels when not in use for extended periods and just in case harsh weather strikes. However, are there reasons or occasions you should use solar panel covers even when in use? Well, at least two, and they are listed below –

For Protection from Overheating

Seasoned solar panel system users know its ins and outs. This generally means they know all about installing solar panels, wires, connectors, and cables. Plus, you need not use a panel cover if your area does not experience unbearably high temperatures.

However, if you’re new to the game and living in hot and humid conditions, shielding your solar panels with a covering is best. This will prevent overheating issues and grant you peace of mind so you won’t be caught off-guard in an unpleasant situation.

Extremes of Temperature

Many people cover their solar panels full-time if they live in regions that experience temperature extremes throughout the year. This can also be the case if the area experiences highly unpredictable weather conditions.

Doing so may extend the life of the solar panels. This holds mainly because each kind of solar panel has a different temperature coefficient, which is the amount of power they lose with every degree of rise in temperature.

Solar Panels on Roof

When Not to Use Solar Panel Protective Covers

While many advocates support solar system covers, others believe discretion should be practiced. There are circumstances or times when covering is redundant or injurious.

Since solar panels are meant to be exposed to the environment, most companies ensure a robust manufacturing process that makes the panels resistant to weather elements. Plus, the panels are often low-maintenance, so cleaning and repair work should be minimal.

As for rain, some of it is good as it may enhance performance by removing dirt build-up. Finally, dirt and grime are not threats unless in large volumes, so a solar cover is not required if windy dust storms are not around the corner. Since wisdom is justified by her children, to cover or not to cover is a matter of circumstance and context.

Types of Solar Panel Protective Covers

Solar panel covers vary in materials as one can use them for different reasons. For instance – a cover designed to protect against rain and hail will differ from the mesh-like cover intended to keep pestering birds at bay.

Again, solar panels are generally available in different sizes and types. This is another reason why covers cannot be one-size-fits-all. They can be developed from homemade boards, commercially supplied covers, or tarps.

So, to understand how solar panel cover types may vary, let us know more about the different types of solar panels.

Monocrystalline solar panels

Usually fixed and cylindrical, monocrystalline solar panels are made from a single silicon crystal. As a result, its purity level is high. The single cylindrical ingot is then sliced into wafer-like solar cells.

Being carved from a single silicon ingot, these solar panels have a high power capacity. They offer greater energy efficiency and can last up to 30 years.

Polycrystalline solar panels

These solar panels are at the opposite end of the spectrum from monocrystalline panels. They are carved from separate silicon ingots. These also have a definite shape, which is usually a square.

Creating these solar panels involves melting the silicon crystals and pouring the molten mixture into a square mold. The process compromises solar power, so polycrystalline panels are less energy-efficient than monocrystalline.

Thin Film Solar Panels

These panels are the most affordable of the lot and are created by depositing thin films of semiconductors onto substrates such as metal, glass, or plastic. Though usually rectangular, the amorphous silicon thin-film panel usually has no definitive shape.

As a result, the cover for such panels needs to be custom-developed. Plus, these panels have the lowest power capacity and, thus, carbon footprint.

Both polycrystalline and thin film solar panels are more affordable than monocrystalline, but the former two sacrifice energy efficiency.

Rooftop Solar Panels

Will the Solar Panel Continue to Work if it’s Covered?

Many new solar panel users have this question – whether or not the solar panel will continue to work under a protective covering. The answer to this question depends upon the type of protective cover used.

How? For instance – If your solar panel is covered using a grid or mesh cover (usually used to keep birds and other pests out), it will continue to absorb the sun’s energy. However, if the protective covering you use is a headboard or a manufacturer-created cover, the same will cover the solar panel entirely.

It will either reduce the absorption efficiency of the panel or downright prevent it from absorbing the sun’s rays. This is especially true in the case of thin film panels that are already not as efficient as monocrystalline or polycrystalline.

Mistakes to Avoid with Your Solar Panel Covers

Though some on this list may sound cliché, addressing common mistakes people make with solar panel covers that cost later on is still important.

  • Don’t be hasty about a solar panel manufacturer or supplier. This is because a top-notch supplier will design the panel, which is mostly resistant to weather elements. That’s double protection, in a sense!
  • Many people try to DIY their solar panel covers to save money. While homemade headboards can help, they are not always efficient. Expert manufacturers know which areas must be handled to design a custom and high-performing cover. Look at it as an investment, not an expense!
  • One can see solar panels sleeping in many homes or vehicles. Avoid this – ideally, solar panels should be tilted or slightly slanted. This allows them to absorb more solar energy and makes dirt, debris, leaves, etc., easily slide off the panels.

Experience Solar Excellence with Us!

Trust in Solar Panels Network USA, where our seasoned experts deliver top-quality solar solutions for homes and businesses nationwide. With a legacy of countless successful installations and a commitment to sustainable energy, we’re your reliable partner in the solar journey. Ready for a brighter, eco-friendly future? Call us now at (855) 427-0058 and harness the sun’s power!

Be Proactive, Not Reactive!

Whether or not you use solar panel covers for your solar panels is entirely a personal choice. As stated earlier, in certain circumstances, you don’t need a solar cover; in others, you may require one.

You can also take the alternative route by installing a panel monitoring system to check its performance, getting the panels insured, etc. In any case, what is most important is that you take proactive steps to protect your solar panels.

Being proactive instead of reactive will ensure that your panels last you a long, long time!

About the Author

Solar Panels Network USA stands at the forefront of solar energy solutions, driven by a team of seasoned solar engineers and energy consultants. With over decades of experience in delivering high-quality solar installations and maintenance, we are committed to promoting sustainable energy through customer-centric, tailored solutions. Our articles reflect this commitment, crafted collaboratively by experts to provide accurate, up-to-date insights into solar technology, ensuring our readers are well-informed and empowered in their solar energy decisions.