Q: Are geothermal heating/cooling systems better in reducing energy costs than solar power? Which would you recommend for areas subject to hail storms and high winds?
Sent by Kimberly
Answered by: Mick Dalrymple, Scottsdale, AZ, Eco-Friendly Building Center
Great question that gets to one of the roots of my approaches to sustainability.
First, though, let's talk about hail and wind. Solar panels must pass a 60-mph, 1-inch hail impact-resistance test to get their UL listing. So, if that doesn't cover your situation, I can suggest a few better climates to you for possible relocation. As far as wind, your solar photovoltaic (PV) or solar thermal contractor will need to design a mounting system that passes local code for your climate conditions. You can request that they go above and beyond code if you are not comfortable that code is sufficient. The panels, in themselves, do not have a problem with wind. The issue is the damage that they may cause to your roof, to another structure or to people if they take flight off of your roof. A geothermal system is not going to be impacted by hail or wind, as it is intalled in-ground and in the house.
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