Solar panel modules can be a great way for you to save money and be environmentally responsible. But what happens when your panels no longer work?
You don’t want to throw something like a solar panel in the garbage. Can they be fixed, or do they need to be replaced? These are the types of questions that homeowners ask themselves if they have solar panels that aren’t working.
Let’s cover the basics about a solar system first, and then you’ll learn what to do when there is a problem. Lastly, you will discover what to do when the panels have reached the end of their usefulness.
What Are Battery Solar Systems?
You may have heard people refer to battery solar systems when you were looking into solar companies installing solar panels in your home. Solar panels themselves do not require batteries. However, many homeowners like having a battery solar system along with their solar panels.
Basically, solar systems store the solar energy in a battery so you can use it when there is not enough sunlight to power your panels. When using a battery bank solar energy is never lost. It is simply saved until you require its use. With a battery bank solar energy can still be used when it is cloudy or at night when there is no sunlight.
What is a Solar Power Battery Charger?
Most of the time, a solar power battery charger is a portable device used to charge either batteries or an electronic device. They store solar energy in them until they are used and then distribute this energy to the battery or device in question. Solar charger power is often used outdoors in RVs or other camping accessories. However, you can find them anywhere, from laptops to flashlights to cars. If you are interested in a solar power battery charger, you should first consider what you want to use it for. Then you can choose the type that best fits your needs.
Solar charger power charges your solar rechargeable batteries, and then this charge is redistributed to your battery or device. The charger itself is basically a port between the sunlight and your device. It catches the solar energy, sends it to the solar rechargeable batteries, and then redistributes this energy to your device. The reason these chargers are so popular is that there is no other source of electricity required.
Do Solar Lights Use Batteries?
A solar light does use a type of battery that stores the solar charge until it needs it. First, the solar cell captures the sunlight. Then, this sunlight is converted to electricity. The electricity is stored in the battery. When you need the light to turn on, it is normally dark outside. Flipping the switch activates the stored electricity in the battery and the light turns on. Batteries solar lights are necessary because lights are used when there is no sunlight. If your solar lights not working, the problem could be either the solar cell malfunctioning or the batteries solar lights are no longer retaining the electricity.
What is Solar Net Metering?
Solar net metering is a way for you to use the electricity you have gathered through your solar panel modules that you have not used. If you want to avoid using a battery to store the extra electricity, you need to ensure that your power company offers solar net metering. Basically, they store the extra electricity that you generate and then return it to you as needed. This ensures that you can have electricity even when there is not strong sunlight, without having to use batteries.
What Can Cause a Solar Panel to Stop Working?
Unless there is a natural disaster such as wind or hail damage, your solar panels should last for more than 25 years. However, you can occasionally end up with a panel that was a dud straight from the manufacturer. There are also other small issues that can arise. The two most common problems that may crop up are a low voltage issue or zero power output. Remember that solar lights not working is different than an entire solar panel not working. You can try to check for these problems yourself but if you are unable to do so, you may have to call a professional to troubleshoot your problem.
Low Voltage Issue
There are several reasons that your panel may be having a low voltage issue. The most common culprits are the following:
- Shading. Remember that trees grow, so even if you had no shade blocking your panels when they were installed, you could have leaves blocking it now.
- Temperature. Even though solar panels are specifically made to harness the power of the sun, that same power can also cause the panels to heat to such a high temperature that they don’t work correctly. Your power output will drop as the temperature rises. However, adding more panels to your system can help spread out these high temps and make this problem manageable. Sufficient air circulation can also keep the temperature even.
- Bad Connection: If the shading and temperature is not the issue, it may be as simple as a faulty electricity connector. If you have a multi-meter, you can check for this problem yourself. If not, you may have to call a professional to check it out. Most professionally installed systems will not have a faulty electricity connector, but if you did the solar installation yourself, this problem may crop up.
- Other defects: There are other defects as well that can cause a lowered power input. If you cannot determine on your own where the problem is, a technician may have to help you.
Zero Power Output
If your solar panel doesn’t have power, there are a few common problems that may be the issue:
- Faulty Inverter. This can be caused by a variety of problems. Some are simple fixes and some are more complicated. Over-heating and a short in the circuit are frequently the culprits in a faulty inverter.
- Charge Controller. This prevents the batteries from becoming overcharged. An overcharged battery won’t work. If the charge controller is malfunctioning, it also causes the batteries to malfunction, or completely turn off.
- One Panel Failure. Solar panels are set up in a group, called a lighting grid. If one panel in this group fails, none of them will work. Replacing the faulty panel will restore power to the entire lighting grid.
Disposing of Solar Panels
If your solar panel has been completely damaged or has reached the end of its life, you don’t want to throw it in the garbage. In fact, it is not legal in some areas to throw a solar panel in the regular garbage. Solar panels are made to be recycled, and most of the materials used to make these panels can be recycled.
However, you may have to see where you need to bring your panels for recycling. Some power companies will accept them for you and take care of the recycling. Alternatively, you can contact the installer solar panels and ask them if they have a solar panel recycling panel. Some installer solar panels offer this benefit for customers for little or no fee.
There is much more that can be said for solar panels in the solar industry but hopefully, you learned a few things about solar panels, solar batteries, how to fix a problem with a panel and what to do when your panel is done for. Solar energy is here to stay and there are a lot of great benefits of using it.