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Don’t Step on My Solar Panels: A Cautionary Tale in Renewable Energy

Picture this: you’ve just entered the world of renewable energy, and your shiny new solar panels are glinting in the sun on your roof. You’re feeling like a green superhero saving the world, one kilowatt at a time. Then your cousin Larry, who has a knack for turning every family barbecue into an episode of a DIY home renovation show, decides to walk across your solar modules to retrieve his wayward frisbee. Oh, Larry!

Solar modules

are composed of multiple layers, including the solar cells themselves, encapsulating materials, a backsheet, and a glass cover.

Solar Panel
Solar module layers. Source: Clean Energy Reviews

Solar panels might look sturdy, but they’re like the delicate divas of the renewable energy world. They’re designed to withstand the wrath of Mother Nature, but a human’s foot? Not so much. Stepping on them can lead to microcracks, the pesky villains in our solar-powered tale.

You are explaining this issue to your cousin Larry and he replies: Chill mate, it’s just a small crack! You can’t even see it.

Well, Larry, that’s where things get tricky. These tiny cracks might seem harmless, but they’re like that small leak in your bathroom that, over time, turns into a Niagara Falls replica. These microcracks can expand, causing a significant drop in the performance of the panels. And remember, in the world of solar, performance equals money.

These microcracks are like the solar equivalent of gremlins – small, but capable of creating chaos.

Let’s not forget about hot spots, areas where the electrical current gathers for a party instead of being nicely spread out. These hot spots can further damage your panels and even pose a fire risk. Now, we’re all for a good BBQ, but a panel on fire is not the kind of grill we want at our summer cookouts.

Those black areas on the solar panel are the famous cracks and microcracks, invisible to the naked eye but visible through Electroluminescence (EL).

“So, What’s the Damage, Doc?”, asks Larry in a joking tone.

Repairing or replacing a damaged solar panels is like getting a tooth pulled: it’s painful and can make a considerable dent in your wallet. Sometimes, it’s even more cost-effective to replace the entire panel rather than attempt a repair.

Stepping on a solar panel can turn your investment into an expensive electronic paperweight.

“Prevention is Better Than Cure, Right?”

Spot on! It’s time to turn all “cousins Larry” into a well-trained solar panel acrobats. Make sure anyone who might come into contact with your panels knows the golden rule: no stepping on the divas!

For those tight rooftop spaces where it might be tempting to use your panel as a walkway, innovative companies are developing load-distributing walkway systems. Think of it like a red carpet for your solar panels. It helps distribute the weight and keeps your panels safe and crack-free. An example is a solution called Ralos Solar, from Germany. Also, we at Solarud have tried to help by developing the Solarhook (without much success) to install our units far away from the solar modules. Maybe it needs a little bit of improvement.

Routine check-ups are also crucial. Think of it like taking your pet for a vet visit. Using technologies like drones and thermal imaging, you can spot any solar ailments before they turn into a full-blown catastrophe.

Can I step on solar modules?

As you need to to retrieve his wayward frisbee, clean the modules or set up your Solarud water drainer clip and look forward to a future of efficient, reliable solar power, remember: treat your solar panels like the delicate sunflowers they are. Keep them crack-free, handle with care, and they’ll pay you back with years of faithful service. After all, we’re all here to enjoy the sun, not step on it!

All the best,
Solarud Team.

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