Types of Panel Damage

Even the most durable solar panels can be prone to damage, particularly if they have not been regularly maintained. While some types of damage, such as cracked glass, is immediately noticeable, other damage, such as a defective junction box, require an expert eye, so it’s useful to understand the types of damage that can occur to your residential or commercial rooftop panels and how to mitigate it.

Here are some of the most common types of damage:

Hot spots – if energy from your panel cannot flow well to your inverter, due to it being dirty/dusty, having bird faeces, too much shade or containing defects, high-temperature areas occur where the solar cells consume, rather than generate, energy. This causes the panel to become overloaded and hot. 

Cracks – from small hairline microcracks causing poor energy production to large glass cracks which diminish weather protection, cracks come in a range of forms and can lead to fire or loss of power if left unattended.  Cracks can be caused from severe weather but also during manufacture, shipping and install, if less reputable brands and installers are used.

Snail trails – often clear to the naked eye these appear as thin, dark lines across the panel surface. Often mimicking a spiral or snail-like pattern (but not in fact made by the slugs!), snail trails can be a sign of microcracks in the underlying cells and are caused by water seeping into the backsheet of the panel.

Defective junction box – if dust or water gets into the back of a panel it can seeps into the junction box enclosure and short-circuit it, stopping the panel from conducting electricity.

To keep solar systems healthy, regular maintenance by an expert panel maintenance provider is a must. Purchasing poor quality panels also runs the risk of your panels becoming damaged more easily and degrading faster. Choose your panel brand and installer wisely (look for long warranties!) and invest in regular maintenance and your rooftop system will deliver you energy for decades to come!
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