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 ensuring you protect 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 by using a simple panel protective covering.

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

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

Just 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 cover for protection.

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 simply 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 pretty well, 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’re wondering 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 (and most of them are), the solar panel’s ability to convert energy into electricity is hampered.

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

If it reaches the solar cells responsible for converting solar energy into a directional current, the panels’ efficiency will diminish. 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 reduces 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 when 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 not only prevent overheating issues but also grant you peace of mind so you won’t be caught off-guard in case of an unpleasant situation.

Extremes of Temperature

A lot of people cover their solar panels full-time if they live in regions that experience extremes of temperature 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 true 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 be different from the mesh-like cover intended simply 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 from each other, let us know more about the different type of solar panels.

Monocrystalline solar panels

Usually fixed and cylindrical in shape, monocrystalline solar panels are panels made out of 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.

This is because creating these solar panels involves melting the different silicon crystals and pouring the molten mixture into a square mould. The process compromises on solar power so polycrystalline panels are not as energy-efficient as 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 in shape, the amorphous silicon kind of 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 in the process.

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 panels.

Mistakes to Avoid with Your Solar Panel Covers

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

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

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, while in others, you may mandatorily need 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 ensure your solar panels are protected.

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