The average lifespan of solar panels ranges around 20 to 25 years. There are many solar brands available in the market but few provide top-quality solar installations. The renewable energy sector is growing at an unprecedented rate. Maximum brands try to cut corners and market their products at low prices to stay ahead in the industry.
This is giving rise to a new problem – solar panel damage. Defective panels stop functioning before their expected lifespan is up. In this blog, we will be delving into the top 10 reasons for solar panel damage and understand their potential solutions.
Let’s begin with the major reasons behind defective solar panels.
Top 10 Causes of Solar Panel Damage
1) Environmental Factors:
Solar panels are designed to withstand various weather conditions, but prolonged exposure to extreme seasonal conditions can lead to solar panel hurricane damage. Hailstorms, heavy snowfall, and extreme temperatures can compromise the integrity of solar panels over time. Regular inspections, especially after severe weather events, can help identify potential issues early on.
2) Dust and Debris Accumulation:
The accumulation of dust, leaves, or bird droppings on solar panels can obstruct sunlight, reducing their efficiency. Regular cleaning with a soft brush or a hose can prevent this type of solar panel damage. Additionally, installing bird deterrents around the solar installation can minimize the risk of bird-related damage.
3) Poor Installation Practices:
Improper installation is a leading cause of solar panel damage. This can include issues such as inadequate mounting, loose connections, or incorrect angling. Hiring a certified and experienced professional for installation ensures that the panels are securely and correctly placed, minimizing the risk of damage.
4) Electrical Issues:
Solar panels are connected through a complex electrical system. Faulty wiring, poor connections, or issues with inverters can lead to a decrease in efficiency or complete failure. Regular electrical inspections, conducted by professionals, can identify and rectify potential problems before they escalate.
5) Corrosion and Rust:
Exposure to moisture can result in corrosion and rust, particularly in the metal components of solar panels. Using corrosion-resistant materials and conducting routine maintenance checks can help prevent this type of solar panel damage. In coastal areas, where salt in the air can accelerate corrosion, more frequent inspections may be necessary.
6) Tree Shadows and Obstructions:
Trees or nearby structures casting shadows on solar panels can impact their performance. Over time, this shading effect can cause damage to the shaded cells, leading to a reduction in overall efficiency. Pruning trees or adjusting the panel positioning can mitigate this issue and prevent long-term damage.
Additionally, if you are wondering can birds damage solar panels, then you are right. Bird collisions can wreak havoc on the efficiency and power output of solar panels.
7) Impact Damage:
Accidental impact from objects like balls, branches, or even falling tools during maintenance can result in physical damage to solar panels. Placing panels in areas away from potential impact zones and using protective barriers can minimize the risk of such damage.
8) Rodent Infestations:
Rodents, attracted to the warmth generated by solar panels, can nest underneath them and chew through wiring. Regular checks for signs of rodent activity and installing protective measures, such as mesh barriers, can prevent this type of solar panel damage.
9) Inadequate Cleaning Practices:
While cleaning is essential, using abrasive materials or harsh chemicals during the cleaning process can scratch or damage the protective coating on solar panels. Adopting gentle cleaning methods and using approved cleaning solutions can help maintain panel integrity.
10) Poor Quality Materials:
The use of subpar materials in the manufacturing of solar panels can contribute to premature wear and tear. Investing in high-quality panels from reputable manufacturers might have a higher upfront cost but pays off in terms of durability and long-term performance.
Wrapping up causes for solar panel damage, let’s move to the maintenance tips for solar panels.
Maintenance Tips for Solar Panels
While solar panels are renowned for their low maintenance requirements, regular upkeep is essential to ensure optimal performance and extend their lifespan. Here are some crucial maintenance tips to keep your solar panels in top-notch condition:
- Regular Cleaning:
Regularly clean your solar panels to remove dust, dirt, bird droppings, and other debris that can accumulate over time. Use a soft brush, a squeegee, or a gentle stream of water to avoid scratching the surface. Cleaning is particularly important in areas with high pollution or dust levels.
- Timing Matters:
Plan your cleaning sessions strategically. The best time to clean solar panels is early in the morning or late in the evening when the panels are cool. Cleaning during the cooler parts of the day helps prevent thermal shock, which can occur if cold water is applied to hot panels.
- Monitor for Shading:
Regularly check for shading issues caused by trees, nearby structures, or any new obstructions. Shadows can significantly reduce the efficiency of solar panels, leading to potential long-term damage.
- Professional Inspections:
While basic visual inspections can be done by the owner, it’s advisable to schedule professional inspections annually. Certified technicians can identify issues that may not be apparent to the untrained eye and ensure that the electrical components are in optimal condition.
- Check for Rodent Activity:
Inspect the area under and around the solar panels for signs of rodent activity. Rodents may be attracted to the warmth generated by the panels and can cause damage by chewing through wiring. Install mesh barriers or take other preventive measures if necessary.
- Keep an Eye on Your Inverter:
The inverter is a critical component of your solar panel system. Regularly check its display for error messages or unusual behavior. Inverters may need replacement after 10-15 years, so be prepared for potential upgrades.
- Secure Loose Connections:
Ensure that all connections are secure and free of corrosion. Loose connections can lead to a decrease in energy production and may contribute to long-term damage.
- Invest in Protective Coatings:
Consider investing in protective coatings for your solar panels. These coatings can minimize the impact of environmental factors, reduce the adhesion of dirt and debris, and provide an additional layer of defense against wear and tear.
- Review Your Insurance Coverage:
Check your homeowner’s insurance policy to ensure that your solar panels are adequately covered. This coverage can protect you in the event of damage caused by factors such as extreme weather, vandalism, or theft.
- Document and Track Performance:
Keep a record of your solar panel system’s performance, including energy production levels. Any sudden drops in performance could indicate a problem that requires attention.
Finally, let’s explore the frequently asked questions for solar panel damage.
FAQs: Solar Panel Damage
Does wind damage solar panels?
Solar panels are designed and tested to withstand outdoor weather conditions. They can hold on their own against wind, hail, and storm.
What are the best hail-resistant solar panels?
There are many hail-resistant solar panels. We recommend buying panels with IP 68 certification or UL 61730 as they are made to withstand tough outdoor conditions.
How do I know if my solar panel is damaged?
Check for broken frames, cracked glass, or damaged wiring. If your panels are producing less power output then one or more of the panels are damaged. Consult a professional repair service to mitigate the solar panel damage.
Why do you need a solar panel repair service?
Solar panels require regular maintenance. If you are avoiding repair services, there is a high chance of a potential breakdown. You have to do an urgent replacement to bring your panels back to safety.
Can a crack on a solar panel affect performance?
There is a significant drop in the power output of cracked solar panels in comparison to regular panels. Internal cracks are a major reason for the rapid degradation of solar panels.
How do solar panels damage the environment?
Hazardous chemicals are released into the air during the manufacturing of photovoltaic solar cells. Plus, there should be a proper disposal of heavy metals after the end of their shelf life.
How often do solar panels get damaged?
Top-quality manufacturers built panels that have low degradation rates. However, tier II and tier III brands have an annual degradation rate of 0.50% to 0.80%.
How do solar panels wear out?
Solar panels can wear out due to several factors including heat, humidity freezing, and thermal cycling.
Guarding against solar panel damage involves a combination of preventative measures and proactive maintenance. Understanding the causes of damage and implementing strategies to address them is crucial for ensuring the longevity and efficiency of your solar panel system.
Do you want to harness the full potential of solar energy for years to come? Get in touch with Sustvest to understand the complexities of the solar energy industry.
Also read: Solar Panel Maintenance Tips Guide.
Founder of Sustvest
Hardik completed his B.Tech from BITS Pilani. Keeping the current global scenario, the growth of renewable energy in mind, and people looking for investment opportunities in mind he founded SustVest ( formerly, Solar Grid X ) in 2018. This venture led him to achieve the ‘Emerging Fintech Talent of the Year in MENA region ‘ in October 2019.