Solar panel repair: common problems and how to solve them

Solar panels and their components are economical and promising compared to expensive and rapidly depleting energy sources. They convert solar energy into electricity and thermal energy, which are used for the needs of private consumers and on an industrial scale. But like all other energy-producing devices, solar panel components can break down. If you know what problems can arise with solar panels, this already gives you a certain advantage – so you can prevent any breakdowns in advance or you will know how to fix them and where to go for it. You can solve the most common problems that arise with solar panels on your own, provided that you are well versed in this and are confident that you will do everything professionally. By the way, the replacement of individual solar cells in the panel is possible, but not always cost-effective. In principle, when talking about repairing solar panels, you need to understand the type of damage.

Problems that can cause solar panels to break

If something is wrong with solar panels, then their performance decreases. Therefore, you need to know what problems can be causing this.

  1. Microcracks and hot spots , broken glass. They can appear on the surface of glass solar cells, growing in size over time and thereby detrimental to the efficiency of solar cells. At the same time, despite the cracks, the lamination, panel frame and waterproofing of the solar system can remain in good condition. Microcracks, cracks and hot spots can occur for various reasons: during the production of PV modules, deformation / poor handling during delivery or installation, due to changes in ambient temperature or other weather conditions. The decision to repair these micro cracks and hot spots will depend on how the panels were installed in particular installations. For example, if a crack has formed in a system built into the roof, it is likely that it will have to be completely dismantled – even if only 2-3 panels have failed. Before repairing broken glass panels, it is wise to clean the panels and assess the level of damage to the entire system.
  2. Strong winds can damage the mounting frame. If this happens, take a close look at the bolts and cables holding the mounting frame in place. If some bolts and cables are loose, tighten them, you can do it yourself. If more serious damage occurs, contact a specialist.
  3. The reason for the breakage of the panels can be the accumulation of dirt on them – sometimes it will be enough to clean the panels to fix the breakage. However, it is better to do it regularly so that such situations do not occur.
  4. Potential degradation of solar panels , the so-called PID effect, which often occurs due to voltage fluctuations that occur between the voltage generated by the panel and the solar panel ground. This leads to a different percentage of discharged voltage in the main power circuit and, as a result, to a decrease in performance from solar panels. In this case, it is worth contacting maintenance companies – solar panel repair specialists can fix the problem in order to stabilize the operation of the solar panels and prevent their rapid degradation.
  5. Weak wiring . Unexpected power generation problems can result from loose wires in a solar power system. These are wires that connect individual photovoltaic cells to inverters and home solar panels. The slightest fault in the wiring can damage the connection. Installers experienced in repairing and maintaining solar panels use testers and other wire health tools to assess such problems and provide helpful solutions in a timely manner.
  1. Failure of the inverter. Sometimes a simple check by an accredited solar installer will help. It is possible that the inverter was initially installed incorrectly, or it needs to be cleaned, or there is a broken connection. But it may also be that the inverter simply “by age” has lost its efficiency – in this case, it will need to be replaced.
  2. Damage to the indoor module. Internal damage to solar panels can be caused either by the selection of poor quality cells or by faults in the manufacturing process. They result in snail marks, delamination, discoloration of solar connectors or cells, yellowing of sheets placed on the back side, darkening of EVA films, staining of photovoltaic cells, unwanted inclusions in photocell laminates, fading of the rear and/or front of solar modules, etc. e. In most of these cases, the technicians remove the glass from the solar panel so that it can be repaired or replaced. After determining the type and extent of damage, you can understand what kind of repair is required. It is better not to analyze the cause of the repair yourself, but to trust special solar panel repair companies.
  3. Module damage caused by external factors. Storm, hail, heavy snow, lightning and other weather-related conditions can cause severe damage to solar modules. External damage can also occur due to fire, animals (rodents, birds), broken and fallen branches, icing, excessive heat or cold. The presence of these factors leads to a violation of the integrity of the solar panel glass, breakage of the photocell, scratches on the module frame, microcracks, etc. For example, severe hypothermia or excessive heat can supercool the solar panel frames, which will lead to their deformation and breakage of the entire system. Very often, lightning and overvoltage become the cause of diode failure, burnout of junction boxes. In most cases, if solar cells and panels are exposed to fire, they cannot be repaired. Sometimes a shadow can be the reason for a decrease in the efficiency of a solar panel. Therefore, if you notice a decrease in solar system performance, check your system for possible obstructions, shadows or materials that could prevent your system from working. Usually shading tests are carried out regularly by service companies.

How to fix broken solar panels?

So, as we said above, there are many factors that can damage your solar panels. Things like hurricanes, high winds, and heavy hail can damage your solar panels. And the first thing to do is to study the extent of damage to your solar system. Check everything including wiring, glass components and mounting frame. Make sure you inspect every inch so you don’t miss any broken parts.

What can be fixed on the solar module?

Be prepared for the fact that if you are not a professional, then you can fix a little yourself. A distinction should always be made between on-site repair of solar panels and repair at a dedicated repair center.

Field repair is limited throughout the line to the replacement of faulty bypass diodes in junction boxes. You can also replace broken and damaged cables and plugs. However, if the damage is very large, it is better to contact a special repair service (this may be a service company).

Repair of solar panels by a specialist

The repair service specializes in the repair of photovoltaic modules. Among other things, burnt junction boxes can be replaced. The old box is carefully removed from the module and then the new box is placed on the back of the module.

As a rule, there is also the possibility of replacing frames on modules. Old bent or broken module frames are simply replaced with new ones.

Another advantage of repair in the service is that after the repair the modules are subjected to extensive tests. In addition to the insulation test, a power measurement is always carried out after repair. With the help of the so-called flash test, the current power of the module can be determined in peak values. In addition to the flash test, an electroluminescent image is often created. During testing, this cell failure and microcracks in the modules can be detected.

Can I repair solar panel glass myself?

There is a lot of advice on the net that you can fix the glass of the solar module yourself, especially when it comes to small chips or cracks. There are many hobbyists who repair broken glass modules by trying to seal surfaces with resin, silicone, stained glass tape, or other substances. However, professionals do not recommend using these tips, but contacting specialists. Glass is an important part of the module, which protects its interior and the performance of the panel depends on the integrity of the coating. And improperly performed repairs can be a temporary solution, but not always a good one. Errors can affect after some time not only the failure of the module, but also more serious damage and even the failure of the entire system as a whole.

In principle, solar panels with proper and regular care and maintenance will work efficiently for a long time. When repair of solar panels becomes inevitable, it is important to distinguish between tasks that can be performed on site, including with the involvement of specialists, and tasks that must be performed in a service center. While replacement of diodes, junction boxes, damaged solar plugs and cables, etc. can be done on site, larger damage requires specialized equipment and expertise. Service company engineers specialize in solar panel repairs and perform extensive automated tests to ensure optimal performance of solar installations. Repairs made with the help of professionals will significantly reduce the likelihood of a solar system failure in the future.

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