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How to Handle Defective Solar Panels

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Jane Marsh's picture
Editor Environment.co

Jane Marsh is the Editor-in-Chief of Environment.co. She covers topics related to climate policy, sustainability, renewable energy and more.

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  • Dec 23, 2020
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Solar panels are supposed to be smooth sailing once they’re installed. Even though they can be pricey upfront and require a bit of extra effort, the promises of environmental sustainability and lowered electric bills are supposed to make sure that the time and effort pay off. But what happens when the panels don’t deliver on their promises? Whether they don’t work straight from the installation, work partially but not fully or they begin experiencing issues after working for a while, it’s a problem in need of addressing.

Though solar energy may seem like a bit of a mystery to some — especially in a position of malfunctioning — there are a few solutions when dealing with defective solar panels. Whether you specialize in sustainable energy or simply want to add to your repertoire of knowledge about it, here are a few points of consideration when it comes to handling defective solar panels.

Troubleshoot Positioning

Before looking into any of the internal anatomy of a defective solar panel, it’s important to consider that the problem may lie with the positioning and the angle of the panels themselves. When angled correctly, solar panels can only convert about 20% of the sun’s energy into electricity, and that number can plummet when the panels aren’t angled properly. This is part of the reason why solar roadways failed, even despite effective panels. If panels are laid flat, obstructed from the light or otherwise compromised in their positioning, that could be enough to render them ineffective. The good news about this issue is that all you’ll need to do is reposition them and they should work as normal.

Check the Battery

Another possible issue with solar panels is the battery. This issue is more likely to arise after a period of your solar panels working as intended. This is because the batteries sometimes need to be replaced in order to get the panel to work as normal again, much like changing batteries in any other device, even though these batteries charge up and store power. One way to check the battery of a solar panel is to check if the solar lights come on when you replace the solar battery with a regular battery. If replacing the battery makes the light come on, that probably means the issue is with the battery.

Check the Backsheets

Backsheets are another component that can fail over time, usually signified by yellowing, cracking, bubbling and delamination. Backsheets work to provide electrical insulation from UV lights as well as the elements. Often, by the time you notice the symptoms of the issue, the damage may already be done. If this is the case, replacing the panel with a newer model with a better quality backsheet may be the best option.

Contact the Manufacturer

If you simply can’t figure out the issue with your solar panels is after a bit of troubleshooting, your best bet may be to contact the manufacturer about the issues. Since they are the experts in the situation, they may be able to diagnose the issue quicker than someone who doesn’t know the mechanisms of that specific product. Or, on the off chance that the issue is due to something abnormal, unsafe or a mistake caused by the manufacturer, they may be able to provide a new panel to replace the defective one, especially if they’re covered under a warranty or another form of insurance.

Handling Defective Solar Panels

Solar panels are a wonderful tool for sourcing sustainable energy and using it to its full potential, but just like any other form of technology, they can run into issues here and there. While the issue causing a defective solar panel could be as simple as improper positioning, it could also be a bit more complex and internal. And each issue will require its own solution.

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