Many hobbyists build their own homemade solar panels without regard to what will happen after they install them. Since you are reading this, most likely you are a smart hobbyist and would like to know how to protect your PV panels from damage.
After all, you have put in effort, time and money to make your solar panels. Do you really want them to get damaged shortly after using them? The answer is obvious.
Here are 3 important points you must take note so your DIY solar panels can potentially last for decades without suffering from damage:
1. Allow enough free play for solar cells to expand and contract so they do not crack
If solar cells crack, you will have to go to a lot of trouble just to repair your PV panel. The hassle of climbing up the roof, bringing your PV panel down, opening it and testing them, et cetera, is just not worth it.
The way to prevent solar cell cracks is simple. Just allow more free play when you fix them on your substrate. This means you cannot apply silicone caulk to the entire surface of the solar cells. Otherwise they will be restricted in movement and will have to push against the adhesive to expand or contract.
All you need to do is apply a blob of silicone caulk at the center of the solar cell. This will be sufficient to hold each cell firmly to the substrate, yet giving them enough room for expansion and contraction.
2. Use glass that can withstand hail
Even if you are living in an area that does not have hail, it only takes one rare hailstorm to destroy your solar panels. Think about how much effort you have to put in to clean up the mess and repair your PV panels.
Spend a little more money to get better glazing for your PV panels. This is a good investment. After all, there will be that occasional stone or baseball that flies toward your solar panels. This can be a common occurrence if you have kids. When your PV panels suffer impact, you will be thankful for using high quality, hail resistant glass.
3. Encapsulate your PV panels properly before using them
When moisture goes inside the solar panel frame, it hastens the corrosion of metallic parts. Therefore you have to check to see if your solar panel is encased properly. This has to do with workmanship. If there are breaks or cracks in your sealant, chances are moisture will get in, especially if you are using PV panels in a humid climate.
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