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Broken Solar Panels: Everything You Need to Know

January 18, 2023

If you have concerns about solar panels or want to know more about solar energy, contact PES Solar at 800-650-6519 today!

After professionals install solar panels on your roof, they can incur lots of damage over the years due to their placement in such a susceptible area. Like most other outdoor appliances, they endure destruction from exposure to elements and debris. Orlando’s solar panel installation experts can guide you on how to deal with a situation involving broken solar panels.

Solar panels boast a decent lifespan; they can last up to 30 years with regular maintenance and care. However, they constantly undergo severe storms, direct sunlight, and rain. As a result, they become susceptible to damage and general wear and tear.

Your prompt response can make the difference between a few broken solar cells and needing to replace the entire system due to extensive, spreading damage. 

What Causes Solar Panels to Break?

Many things can cause solar panels to break due to their location outdoors on the roof. One of the more obvious reasons includes severe weather. When large pieces of hail fall from the sky, anything made of glass could easily shatter.

Strong winds can also wreak havoc on solar panels. High winds from tornadoes, hurricanes, tropical depressions, or severe thunderstorms can tear the average roof apart. A system of solar panels won’t escape strong bursts of wind.

However, the most common reason for broken solar panels doesn’t seem as obvious as the others. Small debris causes the most damage over long periods, forcing homeowners to replace their solar panels. Things like twigs, sand grains, soil, and leaves slide across solar panel glass, leaving tiny scratches in their wake.

You probably don’t think about the tiny pieces of debris blowing around on your roof. But with solar panels, you should consider how they influence your panel’s longevity. The debris causes ‘micro scratches’ or ‘micro damage’ that few people notice at first glance.

Over the years, these scratches add up. As a result, your panels might malfunction or stop working as efficiently as they once did. If tiny, everyday debris does this, imagine the damage that large tree branches can do.

Types of Solar Panel Damage

Solar panel damage takes a few forms. You can easily see some types of damage from a distance. With others, you need to look more closely at the panels or hire a professional to inspect them.

Scratched Panels

Scratched panels don’t produce as much energy as an undamaged panel. You won’t immediately notice panels with micro scratches, but the wear and tear add up. Larger pieces of debris will create bigger, more obvious scratches on the surface of a damaged panel.

You can circumvent scratches by cutting trees that shower debris on your rooftop. While your roof will still catch some debris from time to time, removing trees from the immediate vicinity will greatly reduce the damage incurred. Plus, you could save your roof during intense hurricanes. 

Water Damage

Your solar panels include seals that prevent water from seeping inside them, much like doors and windows. These seals protect a panel’s inner workings to keep them functioning properly for years to come. However, like most seals, these components degrade over time.

Exposure to the sun, rain, and fluctuating temperatures causes the material to expand, contract, and dry out. Eventually, moisture will seep inside the panel. The panels may short-circuit as a result.

Shattered Panels

Larger debris falls with more speed and force. It can shatter the panels, causing broken glass. Acorns, tree branches, or rocks may cause broken panels with shattered glass.

Be mindful during hurricane season. Hurricanes have powerful winds that carry large debris through the air. After a hurricane strikes your home, inspect your panels for visible damage and watch your energy bills. 

Will Broken Solar Panels Still Work?

Whether damaged solar panels work or not depends on the type of damage. Sometimes, broken solar panels might still work; however, they won’t work as effectively, causing your energy bills will increase.

A few small cracks or micro scratches shouldn’t hinder your solar panel’s overall performance, and you shouldn’t notice the system output decrease immediately. As a solar panel incurs more damage, you may see less efficiency over time.

Damage that requires immediate attention includes shattered glass, worn seals, severe cracks, and multiple micro scratches. These problems dramatically reduce your panel’s performance. Additionally, they can degrade the whole system over time. 

What to Do About Broken Panels

If you notice or suspect you have broken solar panels, you want to know what steps to take next. Your first course of action should include calling a professional and scheduling an inspection. The inspector will determine whether the damage presents safety concerns or not. 

Damage with No Safety Concerns

Should the damage pose no threat to your home or your safety, ensure your panels still produce reasonable output. If the damage satisfies both of these conditions, you can probably continue using your panels as they are. However, keep a close eye on the panels’ performance so you can act quickly when necessary.

Damage with Safety Concerns

Solar panels contain hazardous materials such as:

  • Arsenic 
  • Silicon 
  • Cadmium 
  • Lead

If a panel has severe breakage or shattering, don’t touch it. The inspector will assess the safety concerns and call professionals to remove and replace the panel.

Improving a Solar Panel’s Lifespan

In addition to cutting tall trees near your roof, you can do a few other things to keep your solar panels working well: 

  • Inspect your panels after each storm to survey the damage.
  • Keep an eye on your energy bills and note any sudden spikes. 
  • Periodically inspect your panels.
  • Have professionals inspect and perform regular repairs on your panels

Contact PES Solar for Affordable Solar Solutions in Orlando, FL

While broken solar panels may still work safely, call our professionals at PES Solar in Orlando, FL, at 800-650-6519 to inspect the damage. We’ll ensure your solar energy system’s longevity by addressing common solar panel problems with each visit.