Will a Cracked Solar Panel Still Work? (Damaged + Broken)

When something is cracked, it’s usually useless, although it no’s not always the case. Most people aren’t sure how to respond whenever they discover a broken solar panel.

Will a panel still work even if it’s been cracked?

Most solar cells will continue to produce a current even after they’ve been cracked. This current should still be usable, but your panel won’t operate at maximum voltage.

There are damage variations and decisions to make. Here’s what we will look at today;

  • Cracked Produce Electricity
  • Use a Cracked Panel
  • Panels That Are Nonfunctional
  • Using a Cracked Panels Dangers
  • Replacing a Broken Panels
Cracked Solar Panel
Cracked Solar Panel

Will a Cracked Solar Panel Still Work?

Spotting a crack on your solar panel might send you into a spiral if you just purchased them. Fortunately, most cracks won’t impede your panel’s performance.

A more severe crack could reduce its overall output. Minor cracks might not make any difference at all. Modern solar panels tend to be built with a protective casing. These cover all of their vulnerable electronic components.

Sometimes, the exterior casing might be cranked, and there’s no interior damage. If that’s the case, then you’ve got something purely cosmetic on your hands.

Cracked Panels Can Still Produce High Voltages

Cracked panels work if we define a working panel as one that produces a current. At least most of the time, cracks don’t damage the solar cells themselves.

These cells are among a solar panel array’s most critical components.

Even if a solar cell has been damaged, that doesn’t compromise the entire panel. Panel performance drops in proportion to the total amount of damage.

For example, 10 to 20% of your solar cells have been broken. Then, you’d expect a 10 to 20% drop in your panel’s peak voltage.

Damaged Cells Can Produce Current But Less Efficient

Reduced power output isn’t a dealbreaker for most people. As long as they continue to produce enough for your needs, why would you care whether they’ve been cracked?

The most significant consideration would be how the crack might’ve compromised the panel’s safety. Water and electricity pose a safety hazard when they are mixed.

Those cracks could be the perfect spot for water to seep inside your panels.

Depending on how those panels have been built, that could be a considerable risk. Most modern panels are relatively resistant to environmental conditions.

But, you should still have them inspected if you’ve got any concerns. That’s the easiest way to determine if they’re still safe for you to use.

Testing a Panel’s Power Output Using a Voltmeter

Using a voltmeter to test your solar panels’ output is a quick way to see whether they’re working. Voltmeters detect the flow of electricity.

By touching the prods to the panels’ terminals, they’ll show you how many volts your panels produce.

You have a dead panel on your hands if there isn’t any current. Compare how much you see on your voltmeter with the manufacturer’s specifications.

Most panels don’t produce maximum voltage, even if they’re fresh out of the box.

However, a new panel should produce 95% or more of its max-rated power output. That is, assuming it’s in direct sunlight. If you see much less than that, your panel’s performance might’ve been compromised.

Cracked Solar Panel Close Up - Sol Voltaics: Solar Panel Information
Cracked Solar Panel Close Up

What Should You Do When You Find a Cracked or Broken Panel?

First, take a close look at the affected area. You are spotting what looks like a crack on your solar panel doesn’t mean much if you saw it while standing on the curb.

Get close to the panels, and take some close-up photos of the damage.

Cosmetic damages shouldn’t be a cause of concern. But, if it seems like more than a surface scratch, you might want to consider replacing it.

Should You Replace It?

Do you know what your net energy production is each month? If you’ve been producing 200 kWh but only use 100 kWh each month, losing a little output isn’t a big deal.

If there aren’t safety concerns, you could continue using them.

On the other hand, let’s say that you produce 200 kWh while using 185 kWh each month. In that case, you can’t afford to lose much of your output. Replacing a panel might make more sense, then.

Destroyed Old Small Solar Panel Photovoltaic Electric System For Home In The Village. - Sol Voltaics: Solar Panel Information
Destroyed Old Small Solar Panel Photovoltaic Electric System For Home In The Village.

How You Can Maximize Your Panels’ Lifespan

When purchasing your panels, pay close attention to where you’d like to place them. Anything above your panels might pose a potential risk.

Imagine there is a tree with branches hanging above your home.

During the storm, one of those branches could be blown down into your panels. We’d suggest cutting the tree down before installing the panels in that case.

Beyond panel placement, maintenance would be the next biggest thing under your control. Properly maintaining your panels can extend their lifespan by quite a bit.

Have a certified technician inspects them at least once a year.

They’ll be a lot more likely to spot anything of concern and catch it early. Repairing a minor cosmetic scuff could prevent some real damage.

Broken Cells Cannot Be Fixed

Why does solar panel maintenance matter so much? Well, once a panel has been broken, replacing them is not usually possible. Your solar cells’ housing Is one thing. However, damage to solar cells is fatal for your panel.

Sources:

  • https://www.energy.gov/eere/solar/how-does-solar-work
  • https://www.energy.gov/eere/solar/how-does-solar-work#pvbasics
  • https://www.sunengis.com/is-there-a-way-to-fix-a-cracked-solar-panel/
  • https://www.energy.gov/eere/solar/solar-photovoltaic-system-design-basics
  • https://www.energy.gov/eere/solar/solar-performance-and-efficiency

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.

Sol Voltaics is an affiliate and an Amazon Associate, we earn from qualifying purchases - at no extra cost to you.

FIND WHAT YOU'RE LOOKING FOR

Sol Voltaics Logo Icon green white
SOL VOLTAICS