What Happens if One Solar Panel Fails? [Causes & Solutions]

June 29, 2023

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Are you a homeowner asking what happens if one solar panel fails? This is an excellent question, as manufacturers design solar panels to be durable and reliable even in rough weather. However, extremely harsh climates, poor installation, manufacturing defects, and other factors can risk a panel failing to work effectively.

If one solar panel fails, this reduces energy output from the system. Also, in a series installation, one failed panel can affect all other panels. However, in a parallel configuration, one failed panel shouldn’t impact other panels around it.

To ensure you’re enjoying maximum energy output from your solar array, consider some added information about solar panel failures. Then, you can discuss your property with a solar panel contractor near you as needed!

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What Happens If One Solar Panel Fails?

First, it’s helpful to consider what happens if one solar panel fails in more detail. Second, we’ll bring out some common failure causes and how to address them. This information should ensure your solar array system works effectively year-round!

Solar panel fails equal decreased energy production

A solar panel captures sunlight and converts it into usable power. In turn, one solar panel failure means decreased energy production overall.

However, most homes remain connected to their city power grid even after solar panel installation. Consequently, your home won’t simply “go dark” after a solar panel failure. On the other hand, a solar panel failure means missing out on the no-cost solar power it produces!

Series configured systems

When a contractor wires a solar panel positive terminal to another solar panel negative terminal, this is a series configuration. This wiring configuration creates a circuit between all the panels.

In turn, problems with one solar panel can affect the output of all the panels in the system. They might not all shut down, but they won’t produce as much energy as before.

Parallel system configuration

In a parallel solar panel system configuration, a contractor wires one positive terminal to another positive terminal. He or she does the same for the negative terminals.

This wiring configuration doesn’t create a circuit, as does a series configuration. If one panel fails to operate properly, this shouldn’t affect the other panels in the system.

Call a professional to identify the failed solar panel

A homeowner might inspect a solar panel array if you can do so safely! Look for a chipped face, discoloration, or noticeably loose wires and other damage. You might also notice burn marks or small, “snail trail” cracks.

However, remember that your solar panel installation contractor might offer free inspections after installation. He or she can test each panel, the wiring, and other pieces easily. In turn, they can determine which panel has failed and how to address needed fixes.

Lastly, remember that solar panels connect to an inverter that converts solar power to usable electricity. In some cases, the inverter needs repair or replacement, not the panels! A contractor can check its function and output and recommend rewiring or replacement as needed.

repairing a solar panel with zero power output

Why a Solar Panel Might Fail

Understanding why a solar panel might fail can help you better determine needed repairs and maintenance. With that in mind, here’s a comprehensive list of potential causes for solar panel failure.

Weather and outside conditions

Harsh weather conditions, such as hail, heavy snow, or windstorms, risks cracks or breakages in the solar panel's glass or frame. Additionally, extreme temperatures, humidity, saltwater, or chemicals can contribute to solar panel failure.

High temperatures and hot sunlight especially can wear down wiring and create hot spots along panel faces. Hot spots risk poor energy output and eventual panel failure.

Also, note that extreme weather increases other damage risk factors, such as heavy tree branches falling onto a solar panel! Panels close to golf courses, sport arenas, or busy highways also risk cracks and breakage from stray sports balls and other debris.

In rare cases, birds, rodents, insects, and other pests might damage solar panels. Nesting, chewing on wires, scratching, and other behavior might risk complete panel failure over time.

first snow, hail, summerotakoeleto

Transportation or manufacturing defects

Sometimes, a solar panel is bad from the start due to solar panel defects. Your solar panel may not be functioning properly due to these manufacturer defects. This could mean that the solar panel is unable to generate necessary power output as efficiently as it should or any number of issues that can make your system less effective than it should be.

It's important to contact a professional if you suspect there may be a defect with your panel, as this can have serious implications for its long-term performance. Additionally, the manufacturer may be able to replace any defective panels if they are still under warranty.

Having a professional inspect the system as soon as you notice an issue can also help you identify potential defects in other components of your solar system, such as wiring or solar batteries. This can save you time and money down the line.

Poor solar installation

Lastly, an inexperienced contractor offering poor-quality installation risks premature panel failure. Inadequate grounding and voltage imbalances degrade panels and lead to eventual breakdown. Also, improper mounting, incorrect angling, not enough ventilation, or insufficient spacing between panels risk not only poor energy production but eventual failure.


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How Do You Fix a Failed Panel on the Solar System?

First, remember that solar panels generate electricity so it’s vital to use caution when working around them. Second, some damage might mean it’s time for solar panel replacement rather than repair. Your solar contractor can advise you on the best choice for your property.

Lastly, always note if a warranty still covers your solar panels. In most, if not all cases, DIY repairs void that warranty. If you’re not sure about warranties or guarantees, call your solar panel installer and check before doing any work on your panels.

How to address small cracks impacting solar cells

Poor-quality manufacturing, shipping, and installation can risk small cracks along a solar panel face. Some manufacturers might supply various caulking agents to address these. However, don’t use store-bought caulk, glue, or fillers for solar panels! One reason is that these are often ineffective for connecting those glass edges.

Two, some materials might block the solar panel from absorbing sunlight. Remember, the less sunlight they absorb, the less power they create. Also, not all caulks, and fillers withstand sunlight and weather, making them ineffective.

Lastly, note that nothing can fix extensive cracks and deep chips along solar panel faces and this impacts the overall effectiveness of the solar cells in the panels! Again, the wiring underneath that face needs sunlight exposure to work as it should. Even if you did apply a patch, it would cover too much wiring for it to function effectively. Additionally, it can simply get larger and deeper over time.

What to do about hot spots

While solar panels need sunlight to function, excessive exposure to overly hot sunlight creates hot spots. This issue risks wiring and other damage along the solar panel face and internal components. In most cases, you’ll need to replace the damaged panel and consider adding some shading in that area.

gull, bird, white

How to address birds and other pests

Homeowners are often surprised to learn that solar panels don’t sit directly on a roof! Instead, a contractor installs a racking system that sits several inches above your shingles or tiles. Next, he or she bolts the panels to this rack.

One reason for this installation method is to prevent panels from damaging roofing materials under them. Two, air circulation under the panels prevents moisture buildup that risks damaging the roof, panel wiring, and other pieces!

However, that small bit of room underneath panels also makes for a very appealing nesting spot for birds. Those birds and other pests might then claw at panel components or otherwise risk damage. Droppings and debris on the panels also block sunlight from reaching their wiring.

To avoid or correct this issue, consider asking your installer about mesh for your panels. Specialty mesh made for solar panels keeps birds, rodents, and other pests out of that space. Also, check your panels consistently and hose them down as needed. This removes any nests from the space and keeps the panels clear of debris as well.

What to do about solar panel wiring issues

Oxidation and harsh weather conditions risk wiring issues along solar panel systems. Poor-quality manufacturing and installation also mean eventual wiring breakdown. Loose wires also don’t conduct electricity effectively.

Unfortunately, unless you’re an electrician familiar with solar panels, it’s best to leave this repair to a professional. A solar panel contractor can replace wiring, or the entire panel as needed. Above all, you don’t want to risk injury by working with electrical wires, even if you assume you’ve shut off the circuit. A professional ensures your safety and proper repairs, so call them if you suspect wiring issues with your solar system.

solar energy, solar system, solar panels, solar power system

Maintaining Your PV System

First, note that solar panel failure is rare. Second, solar panels need little maintenance and upkeep over the years. They have no moving parts that need oiling, and manufacturers design them to withstand rough weather conditions.

However, property owners might consider a few simple steps that help ensure those panels work effectively year-round. These tasks can also help prevent otherwise unavoidable wear and tear on those panels.

  • Dusting or just rinsing panel faces is vital for effective solar panel function. One reason is that dust and debris covering those panels blocks sunlight needed for power production! Two, dust can work its way into tiny cracks and crevices, risking damage to internal components.
  • Additionally, rinse or spray the area under solar panels on occasion. This removes nests and discourages pests from roosting in that area, as said.
  • Check your inverter regularly and ensure it’s flashing a green light, or otherwise working effectively. If they’re not flashing green or operating as they should, call your installer! A damaged inverter can mean added wear and tear on your panels.

Lastly, ask your installer about regular inspections. Many companies offer these for free or a small charge over the years. An installer can check your panel’s wiring, inverter, and other components for needed repair or replacement. In turn, you’ll avoid having issues get worse and ensure your solar array works effectively year-round!

***Please note that solar panels should be maintained throughout their lifespan. However, when the solar system reaches the end of life due to decreasing efficiency, they should be recycled.

Are Solar Panels Worth It?

Don’t let this information about potential solar panel failure scare you! A solar panel installation is one of the best choices you can make for your property. First, solar power means lowering your utility bills, sometimes by 80% or more. Second, solar increases property values, often by 4% or higher.

Above all, using solar means reducing greenhouse gasses and other pollutants. You can lower your “carbon footprint” along with your energy bills when you invest in clean, green solar power.

Go Solar New Jersey is happy to help answer the question, what happens if one solar panel fails? Hopefully we’ve given you some good information to consider. If you’re in the market for new solar panels, call our New Jersey solar panel installation contractors today. We offer FREE consultations and price quotes and guarantee quality installations. To find out more, call now!


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