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Signs & Symptoms of Solar Panel Damage

While solar panels require very little maintenance, they may still be subject to damage from time to time. Because solar panels are made from outward-facing glass, it means they can be susceptible to damage from extreme weather and age. Furthermore, as solar panels continue to prove popular, we see less reputable suppliers cutting corners to save money, ultimately affecting the quality of the product. In this blog, we’re detailing signs & symptoms of solar panel damage and common causes, so you know what to look out for. 

 

Signs of solar panel damage

While some signs of solar panel damage are obvious, that’s not always the case. So, we’re covering some of the signs you might spot yourself. Of course, we always recommend regular maintenance carried out by a solar professional to ensure the lifespan of your set-up. After all, with panels on your roof, chances are you won’t notice any physical damage to your panels when you’re looking from the ground up. 

 

Low or irregular output 

Once solar panels are installed, they slowly lose efficiency over decades of constant energy production. After 20 years, the average energy efficiency of solar panels is 80% of its full output. However, this figure depends on external factors such as the weather the panels are exposed to, as well as how well the panels have been maintained over the years.

So, one of the most apparent signs of solar panel damage is low or irregular output. While the weather conditions, particularly very cloudy days, can affect the output, if your system regularly outputs less than expected, it might be time for a repair.

 

Damage to the glass

Cracks or broken glass on your panels can decrease output. Improper installation and handling, severe weather conditions and temperature variations may damage the glass. If you’ve noticed damage to the glass on your panels and the output is falling, this is another red flag. 

You may also notice microcracks, which could mean the solar cells underneath the glass are broken. Again, this can affect the output, so it’s worth having it looked at by a professional.

 

Inverter issues

Second to the panels, the inverter is the most crucial part of your system. The inverter’s job is to convert solar power into electricity. If your inverter isn’t working effectively, your whole system is rendered useless. So, always look out for red lights and error messages. 

 

Age 

Unfortunately, all good things come to an end, and the same goes for solar panels. As mentioned above, the efficiency of your solar panels decreases over their lifespan due to wear and tear. If you notice a big difference in output towards the end of the panel’s lifespan, it may call for some maintenance or an upgrade. 

 

Burnt marks or discolouration

If you notice that your solar panels have burnt marks or discolouration, particularly on the conductor strips, this is another red flag. Discolouration and burnt marks are signs of corrosion which could eventually lead to uneven temperature distribution and compromised energy output. 

 

Unexpected shutdowns 

If you’ve adopted an out-of-sight-out-of-mind approach to solar panel maintenance, there’s one red flag you absolutely cannot ignore; shutdowns. If your system is unexpectedly shutting down, there is cause for concern. The common reasons for shutdown include wiring problems, faulty installation and manufacturing defects which may call for replacement or repair. 

 

Common causes of solar panel damage 

With solar panels best placed on the roof, they’ll be battling the elements daily. While this is inevitable, there are common causes to look out for, particularly if you can prevent them. So, let’s get into it.   

 

Falling debris

One of the most common culprits of solar panel damage is hard objects hitting their surface. For example, if a heavy object like a branch hits your panel, it can cause damage to the glass, which can affect overall output. 

So, when you have panels installed, avoid any large trees. Not only will this lower the risk of damage to your panels, but it also prevents shade that may cause low efficiency. 

 

Hail damage

In the same way branches and stones can cause damage to your solar panels, heavy hailstorms have the same effect. With that said, well-made panels are designed to withstand moderate to severe hailstorms. 

However, if you live in an area prone to heavy hailstorms, you may want to add a protection layer such as methacrylate to the surface of your panels. 

 

Water damage 

Another pain point some solar panel owners experience is water damage from old or deteriorated seals. As the sealant on your panel ages, it can come less effective and eventually allow water to leak through. As a result, it can damage components of your panels or lead to short-circuiting. If you suspect your solar panels have damaged seals, it’s worth getting them resealed to protect their lifespan.  

 

Wildlife 

While little critters like squirrels might be cute, they may be the culprits to low energy output. So, it’s worth having your panels checked over if you’ve noticed a drop in energy production after having some furry houseguests. 

 

Lightning strikes 

Lightning strikes can cause a sudden surge in electric voltage, which can be detrimental to the equipment in your set-up. While lightning strikes may be uncommon, it’s an important consideration. The best way to combat surges during lighting strikes is by using a voltage regulator and ensuring proper earthing during installation.  

 

Extreme weather 

While we’ve covered most extreme weather above, generally, after any severe weather, including wind, monitor the performance of your solar panels. If you’ve noticed output has decreased significantly following extreme weather conditions, it’s worth consulting a professional. 

 

Solar panel lifespan

Solar panels are designed and built to produce energy for 25 years or more. So, the first thing to look for when investing in solar panels is a warranty. While some suppliers offer 10 or 20 years, we offer a lifetime warranty at Project Solar. 

 

Expert opinion  

If you suspect your solar panels are damaged for any reason, the first thing you should do is contact a professional. By attempting to fix any damages yourself, you could render your warranty void and cause further damage to your panels or injure yourself. 

While we recommend having your solar panels serviced by professionals, you can do several simple things to keep your system running at maximum efficiency. Click here to read them and click here to get in touch with our team regarding maintenance, repair or suspected damage. Our specialist advisors are always happy to help!