Maximizing Solar PV Efficiency: A Guide to Repair and Performance Metrics

When it comes to the effective operation of your solar array for home, it’s not just the quality of your solar panels that matters, but also the quality of their repair when necessary. Solar companies are in high demand these days as more and more homeowners opt for solar panels for their homes, inadvertently, increasing the need for efficient and reliable repair protocols. A recent study conducted by a group of researchers in Spain has brought some fresh insights to light regarding this issue.

The team from Spain’s Centre for Energy, Environmental and Technological Research examined 23 partially repaired crystalline silicon solar modules from a 12-year-old PV plant in the country. The findings revealed that these panels, even after repair, can still function with minimal loss. The team used a standardized approach, coupling visual inspection, electrical testing, electroluminescence imaging, and thermal imaging techniques, providing a well-rounded evaluation of these solar modules’ functionalities post-repair.

A variety of failures typically occur amongst solar panels, including snail trails, browning and broken cells, delamination, corrosion, and a host of others. The study aimed to chart the progression of power loss from these defects from installation to specific points in time. One intriguing discovery was that, despite these defects, about 87% of the tested modules registered a power reduction of less than 20%. This accentuates the fact that even repaired solar panels can still meet the manufacturer’s warranty criteria and be quite viable for reuse.

However, it is crucial to note here that while the viability of repaired solar panels is not in question, there are hurdles to this being a standard practice. For one, the insulation repair needed in most modules make electrical isolation impossible. As such, fixing the insulation on these modules would require ongoing backsheet repair, re-sealing exposed solder joints, and re-testing modules for wet leakage current.

The researchers underlined the need for a clear evaluation protocol for assessing the functionality of a “viable” repaired panel. They also called for awareness boosting regarding international standards and moves towards the Cradle-to-Cradle certification to encourage market demand for second-hand modules with better sustainability characteristics.

At the end of the day, it isn’t about whether solar companies can repair solar panels, but how well they do it and how well the end product functions. Remember, equipping your home with a solar array is a significant investment, and ensuring that they can go the distance, even when repaired, is paramount. Stay tuned to this blog as I continue to bring you the latest insights and trends in the solar industry!

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