Insurance Compainies and Solar Panels for Home Owners

Solar panels are light weight 19 pounds, made of non burnable materials for the most part, glass, silicon (a rock), and a sturdy aluminum frame. Each of those cells only puts out a tiny fraction of a watt. All together they are usually 12-18 volts and 1-6 amps.(For a 100 Watt panel.) Most often they are used to charge a 12 volt battery similar to a car battery. A person can actually hold both ends of the output leads in separate hands and not even feel a poke or be hurt by it.

We have talked with home inspectors who refer to these as photovoltaic panels. The inspectors say that these are safe and harmless unless someone makes huge instillation and hooks them in series. This is most often not done because if they are in series and a leaf falls on a cell the entire array has its voltage dragged down to the lower output of that one cell. ( 9 cells make 5.5 Amps 5.5/9 = .6 of an amp. In other words there is no fire hazard.

In fact I was told by am electrical inspector that solar panels used to charge 12 v batteries are the safest form of power. It is much safer than even the common 120 volt AC used in most homes because there is no risk of harm to people or pets. No fire risk and no heat risk. What about the danger of them blowing off of a roof. Well if installed for safety that is very unlikely except during hurricane force winds. Many panels are placed just above the roof usually within just a few inches. If the panel is raised to get more efficiency by pointing it directly at the sun,adding a high wind shield panel on the back and sides makes it virtually impossible to be blown off of a roof except by hurricane strength winds.

Panels are always installed with ventilation so they are more efficient. They do not work good if they are hot. Solar panels in Michigan actually work better than solar panels in Florida even though they get less sun because they remain cooler.

Perhaps the main problem is shading by trees and clouds. And Is that really a problem? Well the trees can be trimmed. But the solar panels still make electricity with any day light although at a lower rate. Mine still make free electricity as long as there is daylight, even on rainy and cloudy days.

So what is the problem with insurance companies. Well many insurance companies do not understand the above facts. They distrust anything on a roof feeling that it might fall down, injure someone or tear off and cause the homeowner to put in a claim that they may be stuck paying. This is an irrational judgment as for the vast majority of installations it would take hurricane winds to tear panels off of a roof and in fact the shingles often go first because many are only stapled on.

Most solar panels are guaranteed for 25 years. A homeowner can request that they be excluded from the insurance along with the area of the roof that they are above. In this way there is no way they can be a problem for the insurance company. Well having stated that how do we explain homeowners who advise their insurance company that they have installed solar panels on their roof and promptly get their insurance canceled.

In a recent case just north of Detroit Michigan the Meemic insurance company sent the homeowner a Final Notice of cancellation with the following reason "Specific Reason for termination of insurance: Premises with physical conditions clearly presenting an extreme likelihood of a significant property or liability loss." Furthermore they are going to send this to his mortgage banker. Now this home owner just had his mortgage bank bought out by another bank and we all know that most banks certainly could not care less about homeowners. In fact they have actually in the past been paid for dumping an at risk property and then taking a loss and also getting paid for reselling the property even at a lower price. This has in fact happened to thousands of homeowners. This particular homeowner is a veteran senior citizen who had been in this home for over 40 years and was never late on his mortgage payment. But the problem is that he is required to maintain homeowners insurance. Since that is now canceled with the "Specific Reason for termination of insurance: Premises with physical conditions clearly presenting an extreme likelihood of a significant property or liability loss." Is any insurance company going to insure him and will the bank just assume he is a deadbeat worthy of being kicked out of his lifetime home so they can lower their risk and make an additional profit on selling it.

Being thrown out of one's lifetime home when one is a senior citizen is a big problem. This senior citizen couple on social security may actually become homeless and lose everything?

We don know how this will turn out so we are asking your input on what to do.

Please send your ideas to