There is now a lot of commotion on climate change, politically and environmentally. As a result, there seems to be a trending shift toward renewable energy sources in the likes of solar panels. Solar PV systems are not a new thing but an age-long solution that’s been seen to combat the ill effects of oil. It is renewable and climate-friendly. However, that doesn’t make it immune to degradation and solar panel failures.
So, take a run down below on how to identify and solve some common factors affecting solar panels.
Common Causes of Solar Panel Failures
Various external and internal factors can cause solar panels to fail. And despite emerging solutions, it is impossible to control some of these factors. However, solar modules are not cheap. Therefore there is a need to recognize and arrest these causes of failure as much as possible.
So, here are some reasons (and practical solutions) why your solar panel may be at the risk of damage.
Lack of Regular Maintenance
When solar panels are not regularly cleaned, they collect dirt all over them. This accumulation of dust can affect the working condition of the panels. Therefore, it is necessary to maintain the panels by washing them at least twice a year.
A 2016 study pointed out how the soiling on the solar panels can affect the energy output. An analysis by Google also highlighted the significance of cleaning the panels for improving the module’s function. So it is evident that there are enough studies available to recognize ‘lack of maintenance’ as one of the external factors causing solar panel failures.
Keeping the panels clean is a low maintenance process since most solar panels are usually tilted downwards to accomplish self-cleaning operations. However, if this low maintenance is not met, it can have a toll on the efficiency of the whole solar array. Precaution is better than cure. So do not neglect to keep each module clean.
For the cleaning and maintenance process, you can either get professional help or clean by yourself. Usually, the former is preferred for washing large solar arrays. However, if you have only a few sets of solar panels, then cleaning on your own with a wet sponge is enough.
The maintenance process will also require you to regularly check the working condition of the PV (Photo Voltaic) system. You can call a service provider or approach the services that installed the panels to accomplish this task. They will inspect the panels and alert you if they identify anything that needs repairing.
Exposure to Extreme Weather Conditions
If you live in an area with extreme weather, it’s important to make sure that your solar panels are well protected from any harsh conditions. You should always ensure that your solar panels are outside of the reach of flooding or any other natural disasters where they may be submerged in water for a prolonged period of time.
And if you live in an area with heavy snow, it’s important that these panels are insulated from the weight and pressure that heavy snowfall puts on them. Solar panel failures could be inevitable if you install the system in such places without considering any precautions to prevent the damages.
Weak Internal Devices
In the first ten years of using the solar panel, 85% of the system failure affects the mechanical and electrical devices. For instance, one can usually solve the problem by examining the inverter, conversion devices, or optimizers. The panels are less likely to damage. But this is not good news because a failed device equates to a failed PV system. The body cannot function properly if the organs are not healthy.
The point is that the solar module’s efficiency is not dependent only on the condition of the flat-surfaced panels. Instead, it is equally affected by the internal components of the system. Therefore, avoid such problems by using quality products. And maintain regular testing of the equipment.
Poor Design And Material Quality
With the rise of solar panels in the commercial market, most manufacturers are compromising with the design and material of the solar panel to reduce the cost of production and market price. This step has made solar energy an accessible commodity.
Furthermore, an article posted on Scroll, which compared the rooftop panel prices of 2010 and 2021, showed that the price significantly reduced by 79%. This high demand for cheap solar panels has encouraged companies to adjust the quality of the material.
The common signs of a poor-quality solar panel are as follows:
- thin aluminum frames with non-anodized edges,
- backsheets made from polyamide material,
- air bubbles present in the protective film placed behind the module,
- loose connection of solar cell strings,
- high-temperature coefficients (above 0.7%),
- negative power tolerance,
- poor reputation of the manufacturer.
Poor cell design and manufacturing defects have been the cause of many solar panel failures. For instance, hot spots in the panels are long-term effects of a faulty product, which causes breakage and burning of the cells.
Therefore, when choosing a solar panel, it is vital to study the design and material used by the company.
Potential-Induced Degradation Can Cause Solar Panel Failures
When the parts of a system are operating at different voltage potentials, there is the possible leakage of electric current which can negatively impact the solar modules. This gradual effect on the system is known as potential-induced degradation (PID).
It is true that companies have started taking measures to avoid this degradation and are working on making the panels PID-free. However, it remains one of the reasons for the failure of PV cells.
Plus, the rise in favor of higher voltage and transformerless inverter only makes the negative impact of the leaked current on the cells stronger.
Most solar panels have a polyamide backsheet. It acts as a physical barrier protecting the cells. However, there are numerous reports about the solar panel failure caused by the cracking of the backsheets. The reason for this defect was unknown until a group of researchers studied the condition in 2020.
The process and findings of the research, as available on NIST, exposed the interior design structure to be the cause of the pre-mature cracks. The acetic acid produced in the EVA encapsulant was the underlying cause for the backsheets to crack between the solar cells. Various design projects have been initiated to tackle this issue with this recent knowledge.
Mishandling Of The Panels
As mentioned earlier, there are various ways manufacturers reduce their production costs. One such example is the decrease of silicon in making solar cells.
With less silicon, the cells are less rigid and more flexible. Therefore, it becomes all the more important to be handled with care during the installation process. The mishandling of the thin modules can affect the quality and function of the cells.
7 Tips to Prevent Solar Panel Failures
A solar panel consists of many individual cells that are designed to absorb the sun’s rays. As the sun’s rays strike these cells, electrons are excited and they release their energy as electricity. When this happens on a large scale, the result is a strong stream of solar power.
The goal for any solar panel owner is to make it last as long as possible. However, there are some things you can do to help prevent your panels from breaking down. Here are seven tips for preventing solar panel failures.
#1 Clean your panels regularly.
The solar panels on your roof are constantly being exposed to dirt and grime. This can cause a number of problems, but it’s important that you clean them regularly.
Cleaning your panels will help them last longer and will also help to prevent damage from bird droppings, dust, or wax from candles. All of these things have the potential to do harm to the cells in your panel, so they should be cleaned off at least once a month.
As a rule of thumb, you should try to keep your panels free from anything that could clog the cells or decrease efficiency. For example, birds may use their droppings as a nest which can cause an electrical problem with your panels. If you see any signs of this happening, it’s best to clean off the droppings right away before they cause any more damage!
#2 Don’t let dirt or leaves cover your panels.
One of the best ways to ensure your solar panels work properly is to keep them clean. Dirt and leaves can cover the cells in a solar panel, which can reduce their output.
The most important thing you can do to prevent dirt buildup is to always use a panel cover when you aren’t using your panels. In addition, it’s a good idea to clean your panels regularly with a dry brush or cloth. This will remove any dirt that has accumulated on the surface of the cells.
#3 Find a place for your solar panel that gets a lot of sunlight evenly.
The first thing to keep in mind when choosing a spot for your solar panels is the amount of sunlight they will receive evenly. Solar cells are designed to work best when they are absorbing the sun’s rays.
If possible, place your panels somewhere that gets direct sunlight for much of the day. If you can’t find an ideal location, try at least making sure that it gets as much sunlight as possible.
The more time your cells are exposed to the sun, the more electricity they will produce. This means you’ll have access to more power during those times when you need it most–like on cloudy days or at night.
#4 Make sure to use quality materials when setting up your panels.
One of the best ways to ensure your panels last as long as possible is by using quality materials.
For instance, if you’re building a solar panel for use in a school, you might want to use tempered glass and aluminum frames. This way, the panels will be protected from the elements and they won’t crack as easily.
If you’re looking to expand your business, look into solar energy options. It’s a great way to save money on electricity and also help the planet!
#5 Always have routine maintenance done by a professional.
No matter how careful you are, your solar panels will eventually break down. When they do, you’ll want to make sure it’s repaired as soon as possible.
There are many companies out there that offer solar panel services, like checking for leaks or performing routine maintenance. You can hire one of these companies to check for any issues with your panels, or you could do the maintenance yourself.
Whatever you choose, make sure your panels are inspected regularly and any problems are addressed right away. That way, your panels will last longer and they won’t cause too much trouble when they finally do break down.
#6 Make sure your panels are installed correctly.
The first thing you should do is make sure your panels are installed correctly. If the panels have been damaged, they won’t be able to produce power as efficiently as a new panel.
It’s also important that the ground where the solar panels are installed is flat and strong enough to hold them in place securely.
If you notice any damage to your panels, contact your solar panel company immediately for repairs or replacements.
#7 Contact an expert to make sure everything is set up correctly.
When you buy solar panels, it’s absolutely essential that everything is set up correctly. If you don’t, they won’t work properly and your energy production will be decreased. A professional will be able to help you get everything set up correctly and make sure that all the systems are in sync.
A professional can also give you a few tips about how to maintain your panels to keep them running for as long as possible. This includes making sure the panels are clean, adjusting the tilt of the panel to get them closer to direct sunlight, and checking for any cracks or other damage.
Conclusion: Solar Panel Failures
More reputable brands of solar panels are designed to last at least 25 years. But, there are still some things you can do to make your panels last even longer. There are also modules considered tier-one solar panels, and you may want to check them out as well.
To get the most out of your solar panel investment, you should keep in mind the tips mentioned above. Keeping your panels clean will help them last longer.
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