Can my solar energy system develop defects?

Solar energy systems are built to last over decades and reliably produce energy for your property. The components of a solar energy system are made to withstand the elements and function optimally during the hottest days under the sun. Solar panels especially don’t have moving parts, ruling out any mechanical failure and making them low maintenance components of your system. Although, defects can occur during their lifespan and affect their operation. Understanding and identifying these defects can help you prevent any damage and/or loss of efficiency in your solar energy system.

Solar Panel Defects

Delamination

Solar panels are laminated, the process vacuum seals and fuses together the solar cell, glass sheet, and back sheet. These seals are meant to keep moisture and air out of solar panels. Delamination occurs when these seals start to separate. This can occur if the lamination was not done properly during manufacturing. Delamination is commonly seen as dark spots on your panel. If left alone, it will lead to corrosion and reduce panel performance.

Micro Cracks

Micro cracks are tears in the individual solar cells that make up your solar panel. These cracks can occur from manufacturing defects or rough handling during shipping or installation. The effect of these micro cracks on your panel’s performance isn’t instant. Over time, changes in weather and general use will cause the cracks to grow. This is when they drastically affect your panel’s performance.

Hot spots

Hot spots are areas on your solar panel that become overloaded and heat up more compared to the rest of the panel. This issue occurs when imperfections such as cracks, bad soldering, or even dirt and dust add resistance to the flow of current through your panel. The added resistance causes additional heat to build up, resulting in these hot spots. Hot spots are one of the more frequently found issues with solar panels. If they are left alone, they can drastically affect your panel’s performance or even damage it beyond repair.

Snail trails

Snail trails appear as small brown lines on the surface of a solar panel. Snail trails occur after a few years of use and because of different reasons. Although, they are generally considered as an indicator of low-quality solar panels with defects like micro cracks. The defects would cause moisture to enter through the back sheet of the panel. This moisture results in the oxidation of the silver paste used to make and seal the solar panel. The oxidation causes the panel to break down. If left alone, the solar panel can create hot spots, loss of performance, and even complete failure of the panel.

Potential induced degradation (PID)

Potential Induced Degradation is when there is a difference in voltage between the grounded glass sheet and the solar cells of a solar panel. This voltage difference tends to be high, causing the primary power circuit to produce a partial voltage discharge that drops performance and greatly wears down your panel. PID generally happens soon after an installation. Long string connections, high heat, and humidity can also amplify these issues.

Inverters and Electrical Systems

Electrical issues

Electrical issues can happen in solar energy systems in the form of loose wiring or damaged wires from corrosion or oxidation. These issues affect the performance of your solar energy system, and can even be hazardous if left alone.

Inverter problems

The role of an inverter in your solar energy system is to convert the direct current that your solar panels produce into alternating current that your home can use. Due to this process, inverters tend to have shorter lifespans compared to solar panels. String inverters can last between ten to fifteen years, while microinverters can last up to 25 years.

Pests and Wildlife

It’s not uncommon for the local wildlife in the neighborhood to interfere with day-to-day activities. They can also affect your solar energy system in ways you would not expect. Birds and squirrels are the main suspects, as their nests and activities can damage the wiring and electronics of your solar energy system and household.

How should I deal with defects in my solar energy system?

If you notice any issues with your solar energy system’s energy production or efficiency, please contact us directly for an inspection of your solar energy system. With an inspection, we will be able to find any defects and take the appropriate steps to get your system back in perfect working order.

A reliable solar energy system for you

If you are looking for a reliable solar energy system for your property, we are ready to help. We pride ourselves on high-quality personalized service, with a 25 Year warranty on all parts along with a 10-year warranty on all services. Our website also has a free online estimate tool that generates a personalized report for you from a simplified questionnaire. That report will contain the potential savings you can net, and the cost of a solar energy system installed on your property. You can also contact us directly via phone at +1 (602) 363-8919 or via email at Scott@elitesolarenergy.org for more information regarding solar energy for your property.