With 1.6 million solar installations currently in the United States and a predicted increase to 4 million by 2022, solar energy is decidedly on the rise. However, no technology is perfect; solar panels can run into problems or begin to break down over time. These are just a few of the most common functional problems seen in today’s solar panels and what causes them.
- Cracks and Fractures: Hairline fractures and cracks in the solar panels, otherwise known as micro-cracks, can occur during any stage of the solar panel creation and installation process. It is possible that they leave the factory already having an invisibly small crack that grows due to thermal expansion, or they may simply be damaged in shipping or installation.
- Snail Trail Contamination: Don’t let the name fool you; snail trail contamination is a serious problem that can directly affect the performance of your solar panels. These problems occur during manufacturing when improper dispensing valves or adhesive dispensing systems are used for the front metallization silver paste. Defective silver paste or dispensing valves can lead to moisture in the solar panels, potentially causing oxidation later on.
- Hot Spots: Hot spots occur when faulty wiring or bad soldering cause a solar cell to overheat. These problems primarily occur during manufacturing, but can sometimes appear if the solar panels are not maintained properly. Hot spots can severely limit the efficiency of your panels, causing large drops in performance and reducing the power output overall. If not repaired, these hot spots can greatly reduce the lifespan of your solar panels as well.
- Degradation Over Time: After a certain amount of use, solar panels can begin to break down and will need replacement parts. Parts can begin to corrode over time, limiting the output of your solar panels. If not caught early, it can even lead to the eventual breaking of the entire panel. Because of this, it’s important to make sure that your solar panels are frequently maintained.
Solar panels can frequently run into maintenance issues, many as a result of improper manufacturing. Make sure that your solar panels are made with quality equipment and materials to ensure a lower chance of damage in the long term.