Solar panel installation is an essential part of most renewable energy projects, but many people forget to seal them after they are put up.
The quality of its sealant largely determines a solar panel’s working life. Argon, a noble gas that makes up 0.94% of the Earth’s atmosphere, helps extend panel life expectancy and inhibits solar cell electrolysis.
However, even argon will seep out through microscopic holes in the sealant or may have been lost during the initial installation.
Sealing solar panels ensures that their efficiency is maintained over time and reduces the risk of leaks, leading to severe damage in your home or business.
Here are some of the key points this blog will cover:
- What happens if my solar panel isn’t sealed?
- How often should sealing be done?
- How to seal solar panels:
This blog post will walk you through how to properly seal your solar panels so that you don’t have any problems down the road!
Are there any ways I can seal my solar panel?
There are many products on the market designed specifically for sealing solar panels, but if you prefer DIY jobs, then a few things will work just as well!
Most hardware stores carry an industrial-grade silicone adhesive that works great at filling gaps around frames or seams of different types of windows, which also applies to most flat surfaces of commercial-grade solar cells.
This type of product usually comes in tubes or cartridges, so it makes sense to buy more than one when buying, even though only a tiny amount is needed for each application.
You can also use a high-quality silicone sealer to get the job done, which you should make sure will be compatible with your cell type because not all are!
These products come in many different finishes, so you must choose one that meets your needs and avoid using an oil-based product on any solar panels as they could react badly together, creating some serious issues down the road.
What happens if my solar panel isn’t sealed?
If your solar cells have been unsealed, then there could be various problems! For example, moisture could work its way into the system causing corrosion or other damage over time, while dirt could quickly build-up, making sure less light reaches the cells, which means less power output.
The easiest way to see if your system has been unsealed is by looking for gaps around the frame or seams of different types of windows where moisture could enter, but there are also other signs you should look out for!
If any components have fallen off over time, likely, they weren’t attached correctly in the first place, so be sure to fix this before sealing them up again and try not to use sealants on top of tape as they may fail prematurely.
Can you seal solar panels?
Yes, you can! If done correctly, sealing solar panels will ensure that they continue to produce power for longer.
You must find a product designed specifically for solar cells and choose one compatible with your cell type.
Still, it’s also necessary to take proper safety precautions when working on them, such as wearing gloves! If the system is unsealed, this could lead to severe issues over time, so be sure to fix any problems before resealing.
How often should sealing be done?
If you are using silicon or another compatible sealant, the surface must be cleaned before being sealed so try not to use any on top of the tape.
It’s recommended that you reseal your system every few years if needed, which will depend on how well the job was carried out in the first place and also where your panels are located! Sealing services near me.
How to seal solar panels:
Make sure the surface is clean and free of any tape or other materials before applying silicone sealant to seal solar panels.
Add some silicone at the corner of the glass where it meets with the frame or any other added edge protection. Make sure that you do not apply too much silicon since it will overflow after installing the panel back.
If there is a need to add in some more silicon to fill in the gaps, do it very carefully. If you think that adding too much silicon could potentially cause problems, then consider replacing the glass.
Always remove water from the inside of the solar panel by using towels or other absorbent materials before reinstalling them.
Ensure that you do not tilt the solar panels during this process because accumulated water can flow and drip to the bottom of the panel and potentially cause a short circuit.
When reinstalling them, use silicon glue or adhesive tape to hold everything in place.
If there is already some edge protection around the glass enclosure, silicon glue should be enough. If you did not protect the glass before, you could use aluminum tape to cover it.
If you are still afraid that water will leak inside again, consider replacing the panels with new ones.
What is the best solar panel sealant?
To answer this question, first, we need to understand what makes a good sealant material. The most important aspect of any outdoor sealing product is its ability to do the following:
- Retain/prevent penetration of water
- Resist UV light [sunlight]
- Provide a good level of insulation to prevent heat loss, and much more importantly, heat gain [which degrades solar panels much faster than cold temperatures].
- Not cause corrosion in electrical components around it.
Most sealants available on the marketplace comply with two to three of these requirements:
- An inert chemical compound [for example, a solvent with an evaporating gas] that does not cause electrolysis in solar cells. Argon is used as its replacement in most cases.
- A good UV-blocking agent [something that will protect the sealant from sunlight].
- A suitable adhesive to hold the cells in place.
What is a solar sealant?
A solar sealant is a high-quality product designed for sealing solar panels that can be applied by both professionals and homeowners, which will help them to continue producing power longer.
There are three major types of solar panel sealant available:
1) Silicones—Generally detested by manufacturers due to poor insulation and heat-trapping abilities and corroding solar cells in the long term by allowing oxygen to penetrate.
2) Polyurethanes—One of the best types of sealants available for use with solar panels. It insulates well, is relatively cheap to produce, and has good UV resistance. It provides excellent protection from water penetration and corrosion for electrical components.
3) Butyls—Similar to polyurethanes in their insulation qualities, but with better resistance to water penetration and UV light. It is also cheap to produce in larger quantities. One issue with butyls is that they are tacky at room temperature, making it challenging to apply them correctly.
Butyls are currently the most popular sealant for use with solar panels due to their easy availability and low costs.
As a result, they are usually the first choice when it comes to solar panel installation.
Butyls are efficient, reliable, and cost-effective.
They require no curing time [the amount of time necessary for a sealant to become effective]. They allow for easy panel cleaning every few years, so the solar cell energy production performance won’t degrade over time.
The issue with butyls is that they do not retain argon well, which is detrimental to panel life expectancy due to electrolysis occurring.
Argon will escape through microscopic holes in the sealant or from areas where butyl has not been applied correctly.
There are a few types of butyls available on the marketplace that claim to have a high argon retention rate; however, their long-term performance has not been tested yet.
If you use a butyl, opt for a high-quality brand that will have a long performance life.
What is acrylic?
Acrylic solar sealant is made from inorganic chemicals, making it more suitable for harsh weather conditions.
Both professionals and homeowners can apply it to ensure they continue producing power longer. Using an acrylic-specific product will ensure your solar panels are correctly sealed every time!
What is caulk?
Caulk is an opaque, moldable material that fills cracks, stops leaks, and prevents the passage of air and moisture.
Caulk is typically used to seal bathtubs, shower stalls, windows, doors, baseboards, molding joints, vents, shafts, or other structures to prevent water infiltration into walls or ceilings.
To use caulk, apply the caulk with a caulking gun which uses pressure to push out tube contents.
How do I get rid of bubbles?
A great tip is to push them towards the edge with a plastic card where they should rise to the surface, allowing them to be popped gently or slide out from under the tape is used.
You’ll need a small amount of adhesive on each corner of your glass panel, being careful not to use too much, or it could end up on surrounding panels or ground.
How long do solar panels seals last?
On average, seals should last around five to seven years without requiring replacement. This is dependent on the size of the installation and how much it has been exposed to weather conditions over time.
Butyls are generally more durable than silicone-based sealants against aging, but they will eventually require replacement due to being damaged by high UV exposure or rain infiltration.
This does not mean the solar panels will need replacing at the same time as well, so don’t panic if you notice black spots on your butyl sealant indicating degradation after seven years.
Applying another coat of high-quality brand butyl should last you another five or six years after that point. Only replace it when it has poorly deteriorated enough to damage the solar cells under it.
Please do not go overboard when applying the butyl; panels need good ventilation for heat escape in certain climates, or else they can overheat and be damaged by that instead.
Use a primer on the substrate before application if you are uncertain about how well it will stick, but ensure an EPDM primer is used.