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Common Problems With Solar Panels and How to Fix Them

November 14, 2023

Solar power has many benefits, but like any technology, solar panels can occasionally encounter issues that need addressing. By understanding typical problems with solar panels can arise, you'll be better prepared to troubleshoot or seek help promptly before more serious damage occurs. Let's explore some of the most common solar ...

Solar power has many benefits, but like any technology, solar panels can occasionally encounter issues that need addressing. By understanding typical problems with solar panels can arise, you’ll be better prepared to troubleshoot or seek help promptly before more serious damage occurs.

Let’s explore some of the most common solar panel malfunctions homeowners face and the best remedies to get those panels producing clean energy again. With prompt attention, many issues can be fixed without expensive repairs or replacements being necessary.

Dirty Solar Panels

Over time, solar panels naturally accumulate dirt, dust, pollen and other debris that builds up on the surface. Even a light coating can significantly reduce efficiency by blocking available sunlight. The easiest solution is usually a gentle wash using water and a soft brush or cloth. Be very careful not to use any chemical cleaners that could damage the panels. Hosing off caked-on layers every few months is often all that’s needed.

Shading Problems

Partial shading from nearby trees, chimneys or new building additions interrupting sunlight negatively impacts panel performance. Ideally a system should receive full sun throughout the day, so the cause needs addressing if possible. Professional installers help determine whether trimming tree branches or installing automated solar optimizers/microinverters makes economic sense before considering panel swap-outs.

Module Cracking or Breakage

Weather, hail damage, falling objects or simple breakage due over time may crack or break individual solar modules within an array. Replacement usually involves obtaining a new panel and swapping out the damaged one, which solar installers such as those at SolarInstallersNearMe can assist with at a reasonable cost. Promptly fixing cracks prevents further material degradation or electrical issues.

Connector Corrosion

Where cables connect solar panels together or to the inverter/charge controller, corrosion buildup can develop on wetter-climate systems over several years. This causes poor or intermittent electrical connections that reduce output. Inspect cable ends and terminal contacts periodically, cleaning vigorously with an emery cloth as needed. Applying dielectric grease also protects connections and should be reapplied annually for prevention.

Underperforming Panels

When performance monitoring indicates lower-than-expected generation from a particular solar panel or string of panels, it’s a sign something needs attention. Visual checks help identify problems with solar panels like cracking that may not be obvious. Thermographic imaging services can also detect anomalies like flawed cells generating excess heat. Replacement may again solve underperformance depending on diagnosis and component age/warranty status.

Dirty or Faulty Solar Inverters

As with solar panels, dust and grime can accumulate on an inverter over time reducing efficiency. Unplug the inverter, open it carefully and blow out dust particles using compressed air. Check for any obstructions to airflow as well. Faulty inverters may also need updating, especially if older models. Symptoms include failing to turn on, irregular operation or generation significantly lower than the past. Inverter replacements are a common solar service provided.

Rodent, Bird or Insect Damage

Pests occasionally cause problems with solar panels by making nests inside enclosures or chewing through wires. The most Effective solutions involve exclusion methods like sealing entry points and using fine mesh/screen. Removing any nesting materials and inspecting wiring for bites requires fixing any damaged insulation. Repeated issues may necessitate pest control treatment or deterrents like paint, scent or adhesive.

With prompt addressing, many common problems with solar panels prove minor and economical to remedy. But for accurate diagnoses, assessment of severe damage or complex electrical troubleshooting, it’s usually best to consult with experienced local solar installation professionals. They can efficiently restore performance at a fair price using proper tools, parts and testing equipment. With regular professional solar system maintenance, issues become much less likely to develop in the first place.

When to Consider Solar Panel Replacement

While striving first to fix any problems with solar panels, knowing when replacement modules may become necessary prepares homeowners for potential future costs. Typical signs include:

  • Panels over 10-15 years old (warranties expire)
  • Excessively cracked/broken outer glass or frames
  • More than a few defective cells lowering generation significantly
  • Recurring electrical faults after troubleshooting
  • Obvious corrosion compromising structural integrity
  • Hail damage penetrating module interiors
  • Manufacturer recalls for known defects

Consulting reputable solar installers about specific system conditions helps determine whether repair still makes economic sense compared to swapping out older panels no longer producing as efficiently as new models. With proper maintenance, many solar panels will generate clean power very reliably for 20+ years.

Does this help explain common problems with solar panels and solutions? Let us know if any part of the troubleshooting or repair process needs more clarification. Drawing on years of industry experience, our installation experts at SolarInstallersNearMe strive to keep customers’ solar investments performing at their peak for the long run.

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