The Best Way To Fix a Broken Solar Panel
Solar panel technology is constantly evolving with new innovations being introduced each year to improve efficiency while reducing costs. However, solar modules aren't invulnerable.
There's always the risk of damage from natural forces such as hail storms or windstorms (and sometimes too much sunshine).
When water works its way into cracks on the surface it could cause short circuits leading to fires and explosions if left unchecked for long periods of time.
Whether it be due to installation problems or the force of the elements, there is always a chance your solar panel will experience minor damage at some point.
Solar panels are not a total loss if they have been compromised. Cracked panels may still be able to generate some electricity however due to their compromised condition there will likely be reduced efficiency at converting sunlight into energy.
As long as the cell is less than 20% damaged and it can produce most of its rated voltage, then it should work just fine.
Homeowners who are looking to install solar panels on a budget should steer clear of cracked, broken cells.
For those homeowners that would like their investment in renewable energy to last the longest possible time, it is recommended they purchase new or unbroken solar panel systems from trusted suppliers only.
Here are the steps you should follow to fix a cracked solar panel.
1. Take necessary precautions (safety first)
It's important to always be mindful of safety first, and take the necessary precautions before starting to work. Start by turning off the electricity first before you do anything else.
Make sure that any electrical sources are switched off beforehand, as this can cause an electric shock or even damage expensive electronic parts such as inverters or batteries which drive these systems.
If you have a chance to fix the solar panel on the ground, do it so. No need to risk falling off a ladder when you can just get down and fix the cracked solar panel on the ground.
2. Clean the solar panel
Clean the surface of the panel with a clean cloth or better microfiber towel that will not scratch or damage any part.
It is imperative to use caution when cleaning solar panels, as they are sensitive and can be easily scratched if handled improperly. Also, be very careful during the process else you may encourage crack to expand even further.
When it comes to cleaning solar panels, most people think that they need water. This is not true because you risk the panel short circuit and ruin your investment in them if you use water.
This becomes especially a bigger concern if you have a crack on the panel. Instead use an alcohol-based cleaner like pure isopropanol which does not conduct electricity.
Cleaning a cracked panel, it’s important not to apply much pressure since it will only make the situation worse. You have to clean with patience and care since you don’t want any more cracks or chips.
3. Apply silicon sealant to the cracks
There are many substances designed to fix cracks on solar panels. Clear liquid silicon designed specifically for electronics and solar panels is a great option.
It can be applied without any special equipment or training required. Clear Liquid Silicon fixes small chips and seals up large gaps thanks to its high durability and water-tight properties.
Clear liquid silicon preparations should be mixed very well and stirred until there are no more visible air pockets in the container.
Otherwise, it will bubble during curing time which can reduce the effectiveness of the application.
Apply a thin layer of the silicone over the entire crack using a putty knife or other thin tool until it is completely covered by at least 1/8 inch in thickness.
You can also apply the silicone over the entire panel instead of just on the crack to ensure you don't miss any leaks that might be lurking. This is especially helpful for maintaining an even level on the solar panels' surfaces as they degrade and age.
4. Allow it to dry
The time required to completely dry clear liquid silicon varies greatly from climate to climate depending upon when they are used.
During hotter seasons like summers where drying can happen within a few hours. But cold winters may take over a day for them to be fully dried and ready for use.
You are recommended to check the manufacturer’s cut sheet to get the best information on that.
5. Apply a second coat if necessary
Apply a second coat of product over the cracked solar panel if necessary to cover up any cracks deeper than 2 inches deep. Wait 48-72 hours before exposing them back out into the sunlight again for optimal efficiency and stability.
The good news is there’s an easy DIY fix!
Cracked solar panels can be repaired by using clear adhesive or duct tape and filling up holes with silicone sealant before sealing anything off completely.
6. Inspect if all parts are in place
Inspect the solar panel after fixing the crack by examining each individual part carefully.
Be sure to replace every screw in its original place before turning on the power again so as not to create a short circuit, which can be dangerous.
7. Consider replacement if you can afford
A cracked solar panel can be a safety hazard and cost you money in the long run. A deep crack on your home's solar panels may not seem like an immediate concern but it could end up costing you more than just time if left unchecked.
Cracks trap water, which will lead to corrosion of metal parts inside the cells that make electricity from sunlight; these corroded metals then produce less energy over time as they continue deteriorating away until there are none at all.
Some cracks won't even break completely through a cell so it's easily overlooked. Be sure to inspect every inch before installing new ones for the best results.