While it’s certainly possible to walk on solar panels, it is not recommended. Solar panels are made of very thin and fragile tempered glass, and the weight and pressure of a footstep could easily crack the glass or pop it out from its frame.
There are various reasons a person would need to walk on their solar panel, whether it be an effort in making use of limited space or a poorly planned setup where no walkable path has been considered.
To answer this question further, here are some of the things we’ll look at in this article:
- Strength of solar panels
- Walking on solar panels
- Checking for dmaged solar
- Reparing solar panels
Solar panels contribute to a huge chunk of your investment in your off-grid setup, so you want to make sure they are well maintained and looked after. With that being said, manufacturers put every effort into making their solar panels as strong and durable as possible, but they are unfortunately not indestructible.
How Strong Is a Solar Panel?
Solar panels have a lifespan of more than 20 years and are made with enough strength to withstand natural calamities such as hail, wind, heavy rain, and snow, as well as dust and debris and small branches, given they are well maintained.
They can carry the weight of an average human but the pressure and weight of a footstep on tempered glass will cause the glass to break or crack.
Note: The image above is commercial solar panels with toughened glass which are designed to be stood on – your normal solar panel is not designed to take the weight of a human.
Are solar panels strong enough to walk on?
Solar panels are not strong enough to walk on. They are designed to withstand the elements of the weather hitting them, but not the full force of a human.
An average male is 200 pounds and this is way beyond what a solar panel can withstand.
It is possible that you lightly step on the frame of a large solar panel, but it’s not advised, and neither will it be covered by your guarantee.
How much weight can a solar panel hold?
A solar panel can withstand around 50 pounds of weight being applied with a maximum of 75 pounds. This is enough to learn on whilst connecting them, but not enough to stand on whilst doing maintenance.
Can you sit on solar panels?
Sitting on a solar panel would carry the same weight if you were to stand on them, so again it’s not advised that you sit on a solar panel.
This is unless the solar panel is specifically designed to withstand the weight of a human. This would include tempered glass and a reinforced frame. All of which would reduce the efficiency of the solar panel.
Can I walk on a flexible solar panel?
Flexible solar panels are even more delicate than fixed solar panels. Even one slight step on a flexible solar panel would break the circuits and cells.
Depending on where you stand on the solar panel, you may only damage a section of the panels.
When Can You Walk On Solar Panels?
If you absolutely must walk on your solar panel, walk as close to the part that is fixed to the roof as possible, as this is sturdier and can handle more pressure, or walk on all fours for even distribution. Move slowly and carefully being mindful of where you place your pressure and weight.
For the best scenario, if you really need to walk on your solar panels, you should use wallboards that span over a number of solar panels, which will reduce the weight load on one single panel and frame – even still, this could still damage your solar panels.
Other than the important fact that walking on your solar panel can cause damage and breakage, it can also be a dangerous exercise. Solar panels are slippery and one wrong move can cause you to slip and fall from a high distance, which can result in both a fractured panel and a fractured limb!
Also, if a solar panel is exposed to long periods of direct sunlight, it can be extremely hot, making it unsafe to any bare flesh that may make contact.
If you need a solution to work around your solar panels, these lightweight aluminum walk boards/work planks could be ideal for your project and are suitable for a variety of uses.
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How Do I Know If My Solar Panel is Damaged?
You will clearly be able to see—and hear for that matter—if your footsteps have caused any damage. The layer of glass protecting the cells is very thin and fragile so you’ll be able to see any hairline cracks.
You can also tell by the energy production of your solar panel—a fractured or cracked panel will not absorb light efficiently which can cause a reduced amount of energy production, sometimes by up to 10%.
How Do Solar Panels Get Damage?
The natural elements are usually the main culprit of a damaged solar panel. Although solar panels are built to withstand these natural calamities, there are, unfortunately, some conditions that may cause physical damage to your solar panel.
Debris such as twigs, dust, and leaves can cause micro-scratches on your solar panel, resulting in lower energy production. If you are surrounded by a lot of trees that grow close to your roof, you should be mindful of this issue and clean your panel with a hose and a soft cloth at least once a year.
Debris can also gather in the sole of your boots. Small pieces of wood or sand, and maybe a small stone can cause scratches and cracks on your solar panel. Hail, lightning, and water damage are also elements that can cause physical damage to your panel.
Can a Broken Solar Panel Still Work?
If you had to walk over your panel and it caused the glass to break, it can still work fine, although you will want to repair that as soon as possible to avoid further and likely permanent damage to the crystalline cells.
Having it repaired will prevent moisture from entering and affecting the solar cells and will prevent the surface of the glass from any further damage.
How Can a Cracked Solar Panel be Fixed?
It’s advisable to check if the warranty covers breakage from walking over them before purchasing a panel you plan to walk on or before making a claim.
You should usually contact the company that installed your solar panels to come and investigate how significant the damage is and to assist with repairs, but if the crack is minor and has only caused damage to the glass, there are some DIY hacks that you can use to tackle it yourself.
A temporary fix with polyurethane or any waterproof resin is a sufficient solution. This will cover your panel with a thin, translucent waterproof film that will help protect it from any moisture or dirt that may build up. It can work well but will peel off in time.
A laminating film is a second option that is also popular for wrapping cars for extra paint protection. The transparent film, if applied correctly, can be a great quick fix to repair and waterproof your cracked panel.
For more details on repairing solar panels here are some of our dedicated articles;
Can You Be Electrocuted by a Solar Panel?
If your solar panel is earthed and installed correctly it’s designed to be safe, but just like other electrical systems, you can get a shock from solar panels. Although rare, a broken or malfunctioning panel that has been exposed to moisture can be dangerous and there is a possibility of electrocution.
As long as panels are exposed to sunlight they are on and powered, so always take care and precaution when handling them. Personal protective equipment such as goggles for eye protection and helmets for head protection would be wise.
If you must walk on your solar panel, make sure your shoes have a rubber sole as this can insulate and protect you from a possible electrical charge.