Are Solar Panels Waterproof?

Let’s face it; solar panels take a beating from the elements! These solar electrical generators need to be pretty sturdy to stand up to the weather between the sun, the rain, the snow, high winds, and hail!

Solar panels are waterproof as, without a watertight seal, liquid seeping into the panels would wreak havoc with the generation of electricity, not to mention cause short circuits and disruption to the energy flow to the batteries – plus, the rain helps to maintain them!

Let’s examine why and how solar panels keep water out:

  • How solar panels keep water out
  • How the rain and other water help to keep them clean
  • What would happen if water leaked into the panel

Waterproofing in solar panels is a critical aspect of their performance in keeping your home powered up from the sun, so let’s shine some light on how waterproofing in solar panels works.

Water On Solar Panels Being Washed
Water On Solar Panels Being Washed

How Are Solar Panels Waterproofed?

Solar panels are built to be waterproof using a combination of glass, plastic, and a highly efficient sealant.

Solar panels, by design, are watertight, and this would be one of the very first design elements engineered and created before building the first panel. Because they are exposed to the mercy of the elements and various intensities of precipitation, hyper-effective waterproofing is an absolute.

The panel’s design on the outside uses a thin but tough sheet of glass on the front and a highly resistant and durable sheet on the back. This back sheet is usually made of a polymer-type material, virtually impenetrable by water.

The metal frame that holds the sheets and the internal components is sealed with specially designed glue that prevents water from entering the solar panel enclosure. Combining all of these elements gives you a waterproof electrical powerhouse!

Another clever part of the design is that the glass is often coated with chemicals that prevent water from bonding to it and optimize photon collection.

But, the design is not the only way that solar panels are protected against water; their installation also plays a role.

How The Installation Of Solar Panels Helps Water Resistance

Solar panels are placed on the roof at an angle. While many people believe that this is to optimize solar capture, it allows water to run off and reduces the risk of penetration into the panel enclosure.

If you have ever watched solar panels being installed, whether live or on video, you will know that they are very seldom, if ever, placed flat on the roof. This is because there is an optimum angle required for solar capture.

Angled panels provide a more significant opportunity to capture every bit of sunlight that falls on them, but there is another reason they are angled.

The glass on the front of the solar panel is super-smooth, and virtually nothing will stay on there for very long, including leaves and, of course, rain. The water cannot remain on the panels when it rains due to the angle and runs off onto the roof.

How Solar Panels Waterproofing Keeps Them Clean

Solar panels would slowly lose their capacity to generate electricity due to dust and other debris without rain and snow. The water runs down the panel surface when it rains or snows, removing the surface dust and other accumulated debris.

Solar panel designers are pretty intelligent. One of the challenges they faced was keeping their panels clean without having the owner climb onto his roof every time it rained or snowed to clean the panels and ensure they kept working.

Having a treated glass surface and polymer back plate allows rain, snow, and other airborne moisture to run off the glass without sticking or creating dust tracks, which would result in lower generational output as the photovoltaic cells become obscured from the sun.

This effectively cleans the panel, and while there are times when a proper and more thorough clean may be required, for the most part, the rain and snow wash off the accumulated dust and debris and maintain generational capacity.

When it rains, the force of the water hitting the panel but not being able to adhere to it creates a strong current flow down the glass, and this ‘washes and rinses’ the surface of the panel of dust and dirt.

Similarly, the back panel also has a wash and rinse, but there is less run-off because it doesn’t face the rain directly.

While snow can accumulate on solar panels during heavy snowfalls, it usually melts soon enough, and again, as melting snow turns to water, it runs down the surface, taking any dirt and dust with it.

Now, this doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t have your panels cleaned every year or so, but for the most part, the rain and snow (if you have it) will do the job nicely for you at no extra cost!

And here’s another benefit to having water flow over your solar panels- it cools them down, making them more efficient! Because solar panels operate more efficiently at cooler temperatures, having water over your panels can boost production!

What Would Happen If Water Penetrated A Solar Panel?

During manufacture, every measure is taken to ensure that all produced panels are 100% waterproof. But, as with any product, sometimes there can be defects.

If the back and front glass sections are not seated correctly, or the sealant doesn’t seal properly, there is a risk that water could enter the panel.

If this happens, it could create a short circuit between the polarities, and extensive flooding could jeopardize the core components, drastically affecting the panel’s ability to generate electricity.

The panel could fail altogether in severe cases as individual PV cells could get damaged or destroyed. Remember that even though solar panels are waterproof, they are not designed to be submerged as water pressure could cause water to leak into the casing.

Should you find that one of your panels has been compromised and water has managed to permeate the panel’s seal, your warranty will cover this, and your supplier or installer will replace the panel.

A tiny gap in the external waterproof seal would most likely be manufacturing or possibly even an installation fault.

Because solar panel manufacturers have very stringent guarantees and warranties against defective workmanship, it would not cost you anything to have it replaced and reinstalled.

Resources

General Solar Panel FAQ

What Problems Do Solar Panels Solve?

In environmental terms, solar panels can potentially solve a handful of problems, including;
1. Air pollution
2. Water pollution
3. Greenhouse gases
4. Reduction in fossil fuel use

For individuals, solar energy allows you to become completely self-sufficient when it comes to your electricity needs and can save you a lot of money in the long run.

What Are 3 Important Uses Of Solar Panels?

The three most important uses of solar panels are;
1. Solar electricity. This can be used to power almost any appliance in your home, including TVs, computers, and fridges.
2. Lighting. In addition to the use of low-power, LED lightbulbs, solar panels can provide an efficient, low-cost, and environmentally friendly way to provide lighting to homes. 
3. Portable solar. In our modern, always-connected lives, our phones, tablets, and computers are almost always with us, and all run on batteries. Portable PV chargers can help keep our batteries topped up no matter where we are, as long as there is some sun to charge them.

Do solar panels give you free electricity?

Once the cost of the array is paid in full, the energy it produces is free. There are ongoing maintenance costs, too, such as annual panel cleaning, etc. 

How much will my electric bill be with solar panels?

Suppose your solar array includes a solar battery backup system, and it is large enough to fully cover your energy usage per day. In that case, your monthly electric bill will be next to zero dollars, even with a grid-tied system. 

If your solar array does not include a solar battery backup system, then at night, your house or business will use grid electricity. That cost will vary but expect to pay from 1/3-2/3 of your average electric bill, and that cost will fluctuate seasonally. 

Do you save money with solar panels?

The simple answer is, Yes, you save money with solar panels. There is an initial upfront cost, but since solar panels are warrantied for 25 years, you will save money over time. You will also begin to see monthly savings in energy bills, but there are other ways that solar panels pay you back. Those include:
1. Adding value to your home or commercial building 
2. Monthly decreases in energy costs
3. The ability to add more energy appliances without increased monthly costs
4. The potential for tax credits for going solar

Can solar panels power a house 24-7?

Most definitely! Solar panels can certainly power a house 24-7, with the addition of a high-quality inverter and a suitable battery bank, of course. To power, a house under normal usage will require a massive solar array, though, and there will be a very expensive initial financial outlay.

Do I need to tell my energy supplier I have solar panels?

This depends on where you live, but in most cases, it’s not necessary to inform your energy supplier that you have solar panels. That said, you may be producing excess power with your solar system, in which case you may be able to sell that excess power back to energy companies.

In this case, you’ll naturally need to be in contact with them. 

What Are Solar Cells Known as and Why?

Solar cells are also called photovoltaic (PV) cells. They are called so because the term ‘photovoltaic’ literally means light i.e. photo and electricity i.e. voltaic.

These cells generate electricity through the photovoltaic effect. This effect basically causes the generation of free electrons from the semiconducting silicon material of the solar panel when sunlight hits its surface.

What Type of Solar Panels Are Most Efficient and Why?

There are currently three types of solar panels available in the market that are:
1. Monocrystalline
2. Polycrystalline
3. Thin-filmed

Among these, monocrystalline solar panels are known to be the most efficient among all others.

Does heat enter your home through the roof?

Absolutely. Heat enters your home through your roof, and on a hot day your attic can get up to 150 degrees Fahrenheit or more. Through conduction, heat from the sun warms your roof which then warms your attic and the rest of your home.

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