One hail of a time to test solar water heaters

Consumer Reports News: July 08, 2009 04:19 PM

The Consumer Reports headquarters in Yonkers, New York, got pounded last night by a tornadolike thunderstorm that dropped several inches of hail on the area and left thousands of homes in Yonkers and surrounding communities without power. (The photo, taken by an art director here, shows one of our parking lots several hours after the storm had passed. The damage to our facility was minimal.)

A Consumer Reports project leader who lives two blocks from our offices was seriously concerned about the five different solar water heaters on the roof of our building that he's testing for an October 2009 report. "During the storm, it sounded like people were throwing rocks at my windows—lots of rocks," says Dave Trezza. "I couldn't hear the TV even after we closed the windows at home."

The solar water heaters survived unscathed except for the heat exchanger on one unit. Everything on your roof, including the roof itself, is susceptible to storm damage, although the high-impact tempered glass used in the water heaters' collectors should be able to withstand ¾-inch hail at 60 mph, an industry standard.

Dave and his team will continue their testing right through summer and into next winter. We'll have preliminary results of solar water heaters in the October issue and will provide you with testing updates in the months that follow. With any luck, we'll avoid other major storms.—Ed Perratore | | Twitter | Forums | Facebook

Essential information:
Defend your home against natural disasters and visit our Storm & Emergency Guide. Also read this  post on our Money blog for details on homeowners insurance and storm damage and find out how common solar water heaters are in Israel.

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