In the world of solar energy, the durability of solar panels is very important. A cracked solar panel raises questions about its functionality, efficiency, and safety. With this blog, we’ll try to find out if a cracked solar panel still works and if it is safe.
Will a Cracked Solar Panel Still Work?
Discovering a crack on your solar panel might trigger worry, especially if you’re a new owner. Thankfully, in most cases, cracks won’t significantly affect your panel’s functionality and a cracked solar panel will still work.
A more serious crack might lead to a slight reduction in overall output, while minor cracks might not impact it at all. Modern solar panels typically feature a protective casing that shields their delicate electronic components. Sometimes, only the exterior casing might be cracked, leaving no internal damage. In such instances, the issue is purely cosmetic and the cracked solar panels do work.
There are two aspects of having cracks in a panel:
1. Cracks Don’t Necessarily Halt Power Generation
Cracked panels can still function as long as they can generate current. Generally, cracks don’t harm the solar cells themselves. These cells are crucial elements of a solar panel array.
Even when a solar cell is damaged, it doesn’t necessarily mean the whole panel is compromised. The panel’s performance drops in proportion to the extent of the damage.
For example, if 10 to 20% of your solar cells are broken, you can anticipate a corresponding 10 to 20% decrease in your panel’s peak voltage.
2. Reduced Efficiency Due to Damaged Cells
A decrease in power output isn’t usually a major concern, as long as your panels still generate enough energy for your requirements. After all, the main focus is on whether they continue to function, regardless of cracks.
The key concern revolves around how the crack might impact the panel’s safety. The combination of water and electricity can pose risks, making cracks potential entry points for water.
These cracks could expose you to a significant risk, depending on the panel’s construction. While most modern panels are designed to withstand environmental factors, it’s wise to have them inspected if you have any doubts.
This inspection is the simplest way to determine whether your panels remain safe for use, alleviating any concerns you might have. With this, you should have understood that a cracked solar panel still works. Now, let’s focus on finding out how easily solar panels break.
How Easily Do Solar Panels Break?
While learning about the working of cracked solar panels, you might have pondered how easily solar panels break. Well, the majority of solar panels have a lifespan of around twenty-five to thirty years. Nevertheless, these panels are still susceptible to wear and tear. While they’re constructed to endure powerful impacts and various weather conditions, over time, they can still experience damage. There are specific extreme factors that these panels aren’t equipped to handle. Here are a few reasons why solar panels might break:
- Weather: Storms that bring hail, debris carried by strong winds, or falling tree branches can lead to damage to solar panels. Solar panel degradation is common because of these factors.
- Installation and Maintenance: While being installed or worked on, the frame of a solar panel can get bent, potentially harming the aluminum, glass, and hardware of the photovoltaic cells.
- Physical Force: Damage to solar panels can occur when they’re struck by objects like tree limbs, golf balls, lightning, or through acts of vandalism.
What Happens if Solar Panel Glass is Broken?
After understanding that a cracked solar panel will still work, aren’t you curious to know what happens if solar panel glass is broken? Well, when its glass is broken, several outcomes can occur:
1. Reduced Efficiency
The broken glass can influence how well the solar panel captures and generates light. Unwanted elements such as water and dust might find their way beneath the glass, impacting energy absorption and the panel’s overall efficiency. These elements are also among the 11 major factors affecting solar panel efficiency.
2. Possible Solar Cell Harm
Although solar panels use toughened glass that typically breaks into small pieces, there’s a slight chance of the glass shattering in a way that harms the solar cells behind it.
3. Risk of Toxin Seepage
If the shattered glass isn’t addressed, there’s a potential for harmful substances to seep into the solar cells.
4. Exposure to Moisture
The broken glass means that the solar cells lose their protection against moisture. Over time, this exposure could lead to further damage and degradation.
Addressing broken glass promptly is crucial to prevent these potential issues and ensure the continued effectiveness of your solar panel. One other major question solar panel owners have is – can a cracked solar panel cause a fire? So, let’s find out this in the next segment.
Can a Cracked Solar Panel Cause a Fire?
Indeed, a cracked solar panel can cause a fire, even though this is uncommon. Solar panels undergo rigorous testing to ensure they can handle different situations. Yet, harm to the panel can result in hidden cracks. These tiny cracks, called microcracks, might create hotspots within the cell, and these hotspots could potentially trigger fires. Now, let’s learn what should you do when you find a cracked or broken panel.
Also See: How to Disconnect Solar Panels
What Should You Do When You Find a Cracked or Broken Panel?
Once you have determined whether a cracked solar panel still works, it’s important to learn about the things you need to do when you find such a panel.
When you encounter a cracked or broken panel, you should start by closely examining the affected area. Just because you’ve spotted what appears to be a crack on your solar panel doesn’t hold much weight if you notice it from a distance on the sidewalk. You can move in closer to the panels and capture some detailed photos of the damage.
Superficial harm typically doesn’t warrant worry. However, if it looks more substantial than a mere surface blemish, it might be wise to think about replacing it.
So, is replacement necessary? Well, it depends on how much energy you are generating each month. Let’s see how:
1. Replacement Not Necessary
If you’ve been producing 200 kWh but only utilizing 100 kWh monthly, a slight decrease in output might not be significant. If safety isn’t a concern, you could keep using the panels and shouldn’t go for a replacement.
2. Replacement Necessary
Imagine you generate 200 kWh and consume 185 kWh per month. In this scenario, losing a significant portion of your solar output could be problematic. Thus, replacing a panel could be the more sensible choice.
After learning that a cracked solar panel still works, you should be curious to know if it can be repaired.
Also Read: Why Do Solar Panels Degrade?
Can a Cracked Solar Panel be Repaired?
Most of the time if a solar panel is cracked, restoring it becomes impossible, and the broken parts can’t be reattached. However, some people have found a way to restore them using see-through laminating film, polyurethane, or resin to cover the cracked glass and safeguard the solar cells. By doing so, they can make a cracked solar panel work to some extent.
It’s important to understand that how well these repair methods work depends on how bad the damage is and the specific situation. So, for repair decisions, asking a professional for help is really important to make sure you do the right things.
Through this blog, we have learned that even if a cracked solar panel generates some power, its functions could be compromised, and pose safety concerns. Thus, regular checks by professionals are recommended for enhanced safety and longevity of solar panels. Do explore other blogs in the dedicated solar category!