Advantages of Solar Panel Reliability
What Is Solar Reliability?Simply put, solar reliability is all about time – it is how many years your system will last, based on normal conditions. Many solar manufacturers say their products have gone through rigorous industry certifications, such as UL and IEC. But that hairdryer you bought has a UL certification; it doesn’t mean it’s a high-quality product, only that you won’t be electrocuted while using it! Such certifications are for safety only; they do not guarantee consistent performance over the life of the panel.
What Affects Solar Reliability?
- Temperature swings – Sun and rain, extreme heat and frost can all take their toll on solar panels. That’s because their electrical connectors are metal, and over the years the temperature-related expansion and contraction of the metal can cause the connectors to break.
- Moisture and humidity – Moisture of all kinds, including fog, wet summer heat, snow and rain, is potentially harmful to panels, because it can corrode their internal metal components. Also, when wetness combines with the silicon in solar cells, it reduces the cells’ power output.
- Heavy loads – Snow, hail and even wind place stress against solar panels; over time this can cause them to crack. In addition to reducing their power output, this can cause the panel to heat up and accelerate its aging.
- Shade – Dense foliage, dust, leaves and other refuse can lead to significant power loss. In conventional cells, even partial shading on a single cell can shut down one-third of the entire panel.
What Are Your Options?
Challenging weather conditions – hot, cold, wet and dry – are inevitable. Savvy solar consumers will select manufacturers who take these factors into account when developing their solar power technologies.
It is critical to understand what practices a manufacturer implements in order to protect its customers against performance issues. Very few solar providers, if any (aside from SunPower) have 25 years’ worth of experience to draw from, designing reliable, long-lasting solutions of all sizes around the globe, for most conceivable weather conditions and climates.
Reliability definitely impacts the total cost of ownership (TCO) and the ROI of solar investments. Do your homework before choosing a solar provider.
What Should You Ask a Potential Solar Provider?
You should ask:
- How much experience does the company have in manufacturing and installing solar panels?
- How extensively are their panels tested, and what certifications do they have?
- How much of the design and manufacturing process is controlled by the company?
- Does the manufacturer take customer feedback to heart, and include it in its panel design?