Solar panel delamination?  It’s real. Beyond the obvious consequences  of inferior construction, most would be forgiven to not even consider an issue such as solar panel delamination. More common than most realise, as it’s not as obvious to those which are standing on the ground. In reality though, how severe could something be which seems so insignificant?

Ask yourself, would you like a product in which you’ve invested your hard earned savings into to underperform due to internal corrosion of essential electrical components? Furthermore, what if such an investment endured critical failure from excessive ingress? Whether a warranty is present or not any remedy will always be rather bitter sweet due to the lost savings during assessment and repair periods which often take months for successful resolution. Surely solar panel delamination couldn’t be that bad?

Solar Panel Delamination - Solar Review

The brief:

Solar panel delamination takes place when the bond between back plastics and the front glass begin to separate. When such occurs, it becomes a problem for the solar panel as it permits air and moisture to find a way into the solar panel thereby causing corrosion and power failure.

Causes.

There is only one source of the cause toward solar panel delamination which ultimately is inexcusable. Manufacturing. In a nutshell, a solar panel is made up of several layers, and in the process of assembling the layers, manual or contaminated processes will corrupt bonding between layers. When the arrangement of layers becomes contaminated, air will begin to separate the layers over time.

Manufacturing.

Solar panel delamination stems from inferior manufacturing. More commonly arising from within specific manufacturing series. Often a  sign of rushed production work as certain manufacturers (Tier-1 leaders by volume?) are too hasty to produce high volumes in order to meet expectation. A result of which leads to inferior quality control in both product selection and build quality.

Points of concern:

  1. When plastics of substandard quality are used.
  2. Misinformation about the plastics thermal properties thereby it doesn’t melt to precisely the right point.
  3. Incompatible and unclean plastics or glass.
  4. Inferior laminating machine and poorly regulated for temperature and pressure.

Side-effects.

Solar Panel Delamination - Solar Review

Visually the signs are rather more obvious. Bubbles, crumples or imperfections on the rear surface of the plastic indicates the craft in lamination and can also be a sign of delamination. Less visually is where the severity lies. Symptoms which will inevitably lead to critical system failure over time. 

Humidity Resistance.

It’s possible to have a humid local weather condition which might not suit all solar panels as some are not resistant to long hours of humidity exposure. Delamination occurs as a result of the layers detachment owing to humidity ingression. Delamination becomes visible through the appearance of bubbles in the panel.

Internal Corrosion.

Corrosion occurs when moisture infiltrates into the solar panel. Modules must be air and water-tight and to ensure this, the solar panel components are laminated under vacuum. Inadequate lamination can lead to delamination as the laminated components begin to detach. The moisture allowed to infiltrate the module becomes visible as darker spots on the panel. There will be a noteworthy reduction in the panel’s production as corrosion sets affect its metal conducting part. The darker the size of corroded areas the lower the panels production.

Prevention.

Solar Panel Delamination - Solar Review

Firstly, forget the tag Tier-1 in your selection process. Tier-1 leading manufacturers by volume are more susceptible to solar panel delamination.  As a minimum ensure TUV certified panels which independently undergo humidity resistance test. Although this might not be able to predict humidity resistance over the lifespan. Why not go one extra step? Seek out superior independent “damp heat” and “humidity freeze” certifications to ascertain the solar panel quality. 

Tip: It’s your right as a consumer. Seek out individual panel model certification documents to ensure the certifications are valid for your specific module.

Once selected and before installation, visual inspections should be performed to ensure the edge between the frames inner side and the back sheet is entirely sealed. Additionally, whilst visually inspecting, ensure no bubbling on the on the back sheet of the solar panel. 

Ranked among the top three quality problems affecting solar panels, the importance of monitoring for solar panel delamination should never be underestimated.

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