After the National Renewable Energy Laboratory experienced a severe hailstorm, how many would you guess, out of 3000 solar panels, were broken? One. That’s one panel damaged by hail that put dents in homes and cars. Solar panels are built tough, and broken solar panels are rare.
However, in the rare event, your panel is damaged, you want to assess and repair the damage quickly to avoid losing efficiency in your energy system.
In this article, we’ll cover:
- Where solar panel damage can occur
- How a damaged solar panel can be fixed
- When is it time to replace damaged solar panels
- Who should you call to fix a broken solar panel
- How to avoid damage in the future
How Can Solar Panels Be Damaged?
The first step is to determine where the damage has occurred: in the tempered glass or in the solar cells.
Damage to Tempered Glass
Tempered glass is specially engineered glass, and it’s more than four times stronger than plate glass. If a solar panel damaged by a direct hit cracks, the broken glass fragments into small pieces rather than sharp shards (which is why it’s also nicknamed safety glass).
It’s extremely hard to casually damage the glass on a solar panel. Modern panels are built to withstand hurricane-force winds and are tested for hail traveling at 50 mph. The glass is also UV-resistant, so hot climates don’t present a problem.
If your solar panels’ damage is in the glass, it likely took a direct hit from something like:
- A tree branch
- Golf balls
Tip: Solar panel glass is as durable as your car’s windshield.
Damage to Solar Cells
If energy production is down but solar panels don’t look damaged by impact, the problem is most likely within the solar cells themselves.
Source: NASA Science
Solar panels are made up of tiny cells that are, in turn, composed of tiny “wafers” made of silicon. Each wafer is under 200 microns thick. These cells expand and contract throughout the thermal cycle, getting colder at night and warmer during the day.
Over time, this causes tiny fractures called microcracks within the cells. According to NREL, microcracking is the most common cause of degradation over time leading to solar panels damage.
While this degradation is expected, an NREL study found that most panels manufactured after the year 2000 should be able to produce 92% of their original electricity generation rate after 20 years.
How Do You Know if a Solar Panel is Broken?
It’s a good idea to periodically check the performance of your solar panels. Check for:
- Unexplained changes in your electric bill
- Visible cracks
- Flashing lights on your inverter
- Notifications on your management software
Solar panels damaged by things like falling tree branches will likely show visible cracking. And damage to the solar cells (that’s reducing the panel’s performance) can be checked through the inverter or the monitoring system.
At Airis Energy, we monitor all our projects, so whenever a dip in electricity production is detected, we send a team to fix it immediately.
Should you Repair or Replace a Damaged Solar Panel?
If you have a solar panel damaged by extreme weather or vandalism, your building insurance may likely cover the replacement costs for the entire panel.
Individual solar cells can be replaced by a professional, lengthening the life of your panel overall. This is helpful if microcracking affects a few of your solar cells.
Our customers don’t have to worry about the cost or hassle of repairing or replacing a damaged solar panel at all. All maintenance and servicing are taken care of for 20 years under the contract.
How to Avoid a Broken Solar Panel
Once your solar panels are repaired, you’ll want to avoid the same thing happening again. Solar panels don’t require much upkeep from the owner once they are installed. A few routine tasks can keep them working at peak efficiency:
- Periodically spray panels with a hose
- Trim any branches that might block the solar panels
- Clear away squirrel or bird nests
You Never Have to Worry About Broken or Damaged Solar Panels With Airis Energy
Airis Energy provides a 20-year maintenance agreement for our solar customers. It includes:
- Service dispatched within 72 hours
- Qualified electricians
- Preventative maintenance
- Corrective maintenance
- Replacement of broken solar panels
That way, you can take advantage of the full benefits of solar energy – with none of the hassles. Find out how easy we make upgrading to renewable energy for businesses and homeowners.