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How to: Fix a solar panel that quit working (Read 13652 times)
electron
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Re: How to: Fix a solar panel that quit working
Reply #6 - May 4th, 2013 at 3:53am
 
Just wanted to say, thanks to everyone for their kind comments on this fix.

It shows it's possible and you could fix a panel from the back side in some cases, most panels have a plastic sheet on the back that you could cut into if you had to.

If you can fix a panel by bypassing one cell and it's not to hard to do I would do it. If there is a bad connection, same thing.

If the panel is in really bad shape like this one and you got your use out of it (I used it for years) then maybe it's time to get a new one since prices are getting so cheap (as you all said).

This panel was putting out very little power and someone local recently sold me a 75W panel for $35 but it had no frame at all, just the glass and a connection box on the back side.

So I simply put it on top of the broken panel now, the connection box sticks out above the top of the old panel so the whole glass panel lays flat pretty much, and used some small 26 ga wire across in 3 places to hold it in place and now the broken panel has made a nice mount and I am getting 75W in the same place for only $35 more!

The 26 ga wire is thin enough that it doesn't seem to effect the 75W panel's output power at all but it's enough to keep the wind from moving it.

So I found a new use for the old panel and don't have to fix it anymore!

Thanks for your comments!
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Aric Dyson
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Re: How to: Fix a solar panel that quit working
Reply #5 - May 2nd, 2013 at 9:54pm
 
I suggest to you that you should buy another one. If you will just fix it or repair it I think your expenses would be bigger than    having new solar panels. Its now your choice I am just giving suggestion.
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Leslie Morris
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Re: How to: Fix a solar panel that quit working
Reply #4 - Apr 16th, 2013 at 6:31pm
 
I know this thread is old, but seeing as how panels have become cheaper these days, would it be more practical to fix broken panels or just go buy new ones? Some of mine badly need repairs but Iím yet to calculate how much itís gonna cost. Buying new ones might be cheaper and save me the hassle of repairing.
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andrew_paul111
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Re: How to: Fix a solar panel that quit working
Reply #3 - Nov 16th, 2012 at 1:55am
 
electron wrote on Mar 6th, 2012 at 2:11am:
Followup on the fixes I did.

In the pics below you can see where I did the fix a long time ago and now what's happening is the "mylar" top thin film plastic (I don't know what it really is) has kept on ripping from where I made the cuts.

It sort of makes a bubble and then dirt gets in there and blocks the light.

I was able to remove most of the dirt using a vacuum and then used Super Glue to glue it down against the encapsulate layer, using a metal block to keep it down until it dried. You can't really get under there and clean it perfectly, it will have to be good enough.

This pic is the worst two spots I had, it's possible they are the very first two I did.

I think the temperature swings from hot to cold every day cause the thin film to rip.

Now I get to see how long the Super Glue holds up to the daily sun.

The second pic is the same spot after I glued it down and cleaned it out a little more.



It is really great suggestion and very useful.I have been following your advices....


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« Last Edit: Nov 16th, 2012 at 9:21pm by andrew_paul111 »  
electron
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Re: How to: Fix a solar panel that quit working
Reply #2 - May 22nd, 2012 at 11:44pm
 
Another followup on the fixed panels, the super glued parts came up and had to be glued again and now I see one part that is turning dark for some reason.

Super glue was best because it's like water and flows under the plastic film very easily. I thought it would be OK but I may have to find another type of glue.

I looked at the stuff you glue onto windshield glass to put a rear view mirror back on, but it's usually a gel.

The liquid worked really well.

If this turns really dark I may just strip off the plastic film and do something else, I don't know yet.

Pic below....
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crap-panel-discolor.jpg (146 KB | 576 )
crap-panel-discolor.jpg
electron
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Re: How to: Fix a solar panel that quit working
Reply #1 - Mar 6th, 2012 at 2:11am
 
Followup on the fixes I did.

In the pics below you can see where I did the fix a long time ago and now what's happening is the "mylar" top thin film plastic (I don't know what it really is) has kept on ripping from where I made the cuts.

It sort of makes a bubble and then dirt gets in there and blocks the light.

I was able to remove most of the dirt using a vacuum and then used Super Glue to glue it down against the encapsulate layer, using a metal block to keep it down until it dried. You can't really get under there and clean it perfectly, it will have to be good enough.

This pic is the worst two spots I had, it's possible they are the very first two I did.

I think the temperature swings from hot to cold every day cause the thin film to rip.

Now I get to see how long the Super Glue holds up to the daily sun.

The second pic is the same spot after I glued it down and cleaned it out a little more.
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electron
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How to: Fix a solar panel that quit working
Oct 29th, 2011 at 1:11pm
 
I have a factory made panel I've had to fix over and over, the company went out of business of course because these panels suck!

The back side is one piece of aluminum and gets WAY, WAY more hot than the other normal plastic backed panels I have.

This type of repair should be possible on other more normal panels, except you would cut into the plastic backing near the tab wire positions. You could even add a wire back there to bypass a dead cell.

Most likely it's a connection problem and not the cell going bad.

Whats nice on a plastic backed panel is when you are done with the repair, it won't block any light coming into the cells.

The front of my panel is encapsulate, then a thin clear plastic of some type, maybe a special mylar. I can fix it by cutting into the front.

You can see the thin clear plastic if you look close at where I made the cuts in the picture below. The encapsulate is still mushy, a little more than dried silicone sealer.

You can see on the left what their connection "tab wire" looks like, not very wide, that's the first problem, but the bend was very sharp to try to get the cells closer together.

Here's what happens. It gets hot and the cells expand away from each other because the encapsulate stretches, The metal wires bend. It cools down at night, wires bend back. After some days that action over and over breaks the connections.

You can find the broken connections using a volt meter that has sharp probe points and with the panel under a light source, I poked through the plastic to the tab wires.

The expansion is so severe that it has actually caused my solder joints to break! I have had to re-solder joints several times so far.

I fill in the hole I made with some clear silicone sealer RTV. And that attracts dirt so I try to make the cuts as small as possible.

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