DIY Tips to Repair Your Faulty Solar Panel

The components of solar panels, in the era of costly and distinguishing energy sources, are useful. They mainly convert solar power to heat and electrical energy required at home or commercial setups.

Like any other energy generating devices, they can breakdown, leading to low output. Faulty parts of the solar panel are easy to recognize due to reduced power output.

Moreover, the panels are sometimes repairable when done in time and in the right manner. Inappropriate weather, hits from solid objects and incorrect handling are mostly the causes of damage to solar panels.

Fortunately, most solar panel damages can be repaired and don’t require disposal of the panels.

9 Steps to Repairing Your Malfunctioned Solar Panel

Step 1 – Damage assessment

The first step to repairing a solar panel is assessing the amount of damage on the panel. A thorough check-up is done on the glass covering, the frame and the entire wiring system.

While assessing the mounting frame, pay close attention to bolts and the wiring that secures the frame.

Step 2 – Tightening loose ends and making reinforcements

In case of loose bolts and cables, tightening protects the panel from falling out of place.

Incomplete wiring is replaced and a checkup is done to ensure the frame is firmly fixed to the roof.

In case of a broken frame, reinforcement is done using a wooden panel with a clean cut. Cordless miter saws and table saw blades feature a bevel scale to help make fine cuts.

The saws are advantageous because of their ability to cut wood at any angle and planes, to suit the roof and structure of your solar panel’s mounting frame.

Wood planks can also be used to ensure solar panel frames are firmly fixed to the roof. They’re handy in the event of adverse weather conditions such as hurricanes.

Step 3 – Repairing broken glass panels – replacement or modification

Prior to repairing broken glass on solar panels, determine the working condition of the panel. Expose the damaged panel to the sun for a day and observe if electric energy is generated to find out if it’s faulty.

Low energy levels are expected, hence doesn’t translate to a faulty panel. Energy generation from the damaged panels is critical. This means that the panel is working despite the level of energy being produced.

If the panel continues to produce power despite being damaged, you can replace or modify the broken glass. Little pieces of glass tape could be used to attach the broken glasses together in case of small damages.

To replace the whole glass, carefully detach it from the mounts. And, re-attach a new glass cover firmly to the mount, ensuring that the installation is made waterproof.

Step 4 – Minimizing moisture during installation

Clear commercial plastic bags can be used for costly glass replacements. The clear plastic is attached to the frame after completely removing the broken glass from the solar panels.

Make sure that minimum moisture is trapped between the plastic and solar cells. It’s also important to do the installation on a low-humidity day, for the best results.

The adhesive you choose should cause little to no damage on the aluminum frame of the solar panels. Make sure it’s as tight as possible. Get some assistance to achieve the required tightness of the clear plastic.

Trim the extra plastic at the edges of the frame for durability. You can also use a table saw blade and other power tools to do the trimming job. The tool provides clean cuts at the edges and detailed finishes for durable repairs.

Precise cuts also ensure that glass tapes are minimized to reduce the tape-covered glass. This maximizes power output of the solar panel.

Step 5 – Sealing cracks and fractures on the panels

Small fractures, cracks and hot spots may appear over time on the surface of the solar glass covering. Over time, they could get bigger and reduce the effectiveness of solar cells. This is despite the solar panel remaining waterproof.

Causes of such faults include:

  • Poor handling during shipping and storage
  • Changes in weather conditions
  • PV modules production.

Make serious considerations on the set up and installations of the solar panels to repair such faults. For instance, roof-integrated installation requires a complete dismount even though only a few solar panels may have malfunctioned.

Step 6 – Clean the solar panels and remove insect nests

It’s also essential to clean the panels because dirt accumulation can easily progress into low energy output from the solar system.

Solar panels can also get damaged as a result of the nesting of insects such as wasps and birds underneath. They cause scratching of the glass covering, damage cables and soil the panels. This further reduces the output of the panels.

Plastic strips attached to the panels ensure animals and insects aren’t able to get beneath the panels. Opt for roof-integrated panels because they leave no spacing for insects and birds to nest underneath.

However, the aspect of retrofitting can be complex.

Step 7 – Solder loose connections

Loose connections can easily be repaired. Cut through the silicone that holds the solar cells. And, once in the open, solder loose connections.

If soldering isn’t possible, opt for specialized glue (silver impregnated glue) to re-attach the loose connections. First test burnt or charred terminals on the panels to replace faulty ones.  

Step 8 – Find and solve inverter issues

The most reported solar panel issue is inverter problems.

Most cases require assessing and problem-solving from the solar panels down to the inverter. This is from the panel to the wiring down to the inverter, eliminating problems each step of the way.

Major inverter faults result from a damaged panel or faulty cables, and the capability of the inverter in finding such issues.

Step 9 – Check the user manual or seek professional help

If the solar inverter displays an error message, check the user manual for a remedy.

Run other small checks on the PV breaker within the installed unit to ensure it is turned on. If it’s off, switch it back on, and vice versa. Otherwise, seek the advice of a professional.

Conclusion Some solar panel repairs you can easily do on-site include those involving bypass diodes, damaged plugs and cables, broken glasses and broken frames. Otherwise, major damages call for professional treatment and repair.