Solar panels are low maintenance but there can be common problems with solar panels, like roof issues, micro-cracks, and hot spots. This is a useful guide that shows common problems with solar panels and how to avoid them.

Common Problems with Solar Panels

Solar Technology

Solar panels are one of the best investments you can make for a more sustainable planet and for empowering positive change in the world. In addition, you save money on your energy bills. Solar panels are relatively low maintenance but as with any product problems can occur. So, to make you aware, we’ve put together this useful guide for you that shows you common problems with solar panels and how to avoid them.

Micro-Cracks on Solar Panels

What is it ?

Conventional solar cells are very fragile. Micro-cracks are tiny cracks that can appear on the panels and are hard to detect with the naked eye. But with time and major weather changes, these cracks can grow larger and become more visible. When these cracks become larger, it can disrupt the flow of energy in your panel and decrease your system’s energy output. 

How does it occur?  

They occur during conventional PV module production but can also sometimes be caused through careless handling during shipping or installation or an unforeseen weather event like hail. So, it’s essential that you always purchase from a company with the highest quality and testing standardswhen it comes to having solar panels installed on your roofs.  

What can be done? 

There is actually little that can be done to fix this problem once it occurs, and your solar panels may made need to be replaced.  

The best thing you can do is purchase a panel that can withstand the elements. SunPower panel technology eliminates 86% of the ways conventional panels fail1 to ensure you can avoid long-term issues like micro-cracks. Learn more about SunPower Maxeon technology here.  

Electrical Wiring Issues with Solar Panels 

What is it?  

Faulty and sometimes even old electrical wiring on your roof will stop your solar panels from performing efficiently as it can interfere with electricity production. 

How does it occur? 

Over time it’s natural for your electrical wiring on your roof to be susceptible to things like loose connections, corrosion and oxidation. In addition, pests on roofs like rats can do damage by chewing on the wiring. These electrical issues if left unattended can cause problems to your roof. In worst cases they can even set your roof on fire so you want to ensure you do everything you can to mitigate the risks. 

What can be done? 

Its always a good idea to have your electricity inspected on a regular basis to ensure that all is well. Remember prevention is always better than cure. In addition, as soon as you suspect that something may not be right with your electrical wiring contact a licensed electrician as soon as possible. Don’t attempt DIY electrical work yourself as its dangerous and often results in incorrect work being done. We always recommend that just prior to solar panel installation you get an electrician to inspect your electrical wiring to ensure that your roof is ready for solar panels. 

 

Solar panels are low maintenance but there can be common problems with solar panels, like roof issues, micro-cracks, and hot spots. This is a useful guide that shows common problems with solar panels and how to avoid them.

 

Hot Spots on Solar Panels  

What is it?  

Hot spots occur when a panel’s energy production pathways are disrupted. When the panel’s energy cannot flow through to your inverter, it becomes overloaded and radiate excess heat, so they get ‘hot’. It is one of the most common problems with solar panels world-wide. Hot spots can reduce your solar panel’s performance and lifespan and, in some cases, can even make them irreparable.  

How does it occur? 

They are caused by several factors like the accumulation of dirt or bird droppings, partial shading, and even structural defects.  

What can be done? 

When it comes to the accumulation of dirt on solar panels you must do your part in good maintenance to reduce this problem. But when it comes to factors like partial shading and structural defects always ensure that you purchase your solar panels from a reputable and high-quality manufacturer. When your panel develops a hotspot, it most likely will need to be replaced entirely. 

SunPower panels, on the other hand, feature a unique cell architecture that keeps the cell temperatures much lower to avoid hotspots.  When the current in a SunPower panel encounters shade, it meets less resistance due to the cell’s design and properties. When the current meets less resistance, less heat is generated, and the panel’s bypass diodes are rarely needed. This design ensures your panels are protected and will function properly for the long term and minimises section shutdowns that limit your power.  

Roof Issues and Solar Panels 

What is it? 

Although most roofs are suitable for solar panel installation, you’ll find that some roof types like flat roofs and metal roofs are better for optimising sun exposure and so make it easier to have solar panels installed. Different roof types have different installation requirements. 

How does it occur? 

Naturally it is entirely dependant on what type of roof you have. In the case of solar panel installation, tiled roofs and hip roofs can present challenges with installation. But this doesn’t mean you shouldn’t have solar panels installed on them. In fact, globally there are thousands of tiled roofs and hip roofs that have solar panels installed. You just need a skilled professional to be to navigate around any problems that might occur.  

What can be done? 

Well unless you plan to get a new roof that is more compatible with solar panels like a tiled roof you can’t do much about it. Rather you need to work with the roof you have. Authorised SunPower partners are panel experts and well equipped to do this. Also get your roof inspected prior to solar panel installation to ensure that there are no problems. This way installation can go ahead more smoothly.  

Snail Trails 

What is it? 

Snail trails are the brown lines that form on your solar panels which give the appearance of snail tracks on the surface of your panels. They are caused by a build-up of moisture in your solar panels which reduces their overall performance and can even cause them to fail prematurely. 

How does it occur? 

Snail trails generally occur after a few years of having solar panels installed and can be caused by several factors like defective silver paste (this is in the manufacturing of your panels) in conventional panel cell architecture and microscopic cracks from fragile solar panel technologies.  

What can be done? 

The best safeguard against snail trails is to ensure that you go through a reputable solar panel company that has quality products and ensure your panel has a proven, long term product warranty. This way you can rest assured that if your solar panels have any type of issue, like snail trails, you’ll be looked after. It’s always recommended too that you get your roof inspected every 3-5 years to make sure that all is well. Don’t attempt DIY roof inspection unless your qualified. Always go through a licensed roof professional. 

We hope you now have a much better understanding into problems that can occur with solar panels and also what can be done about them. For more information, get connected to a qualified SunPower installer today.  

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