When The Shatter Doesn't Matter: Why And How To Repair Broken Solar Panel Glass

Posted on: 2 October 2015

One of the most amazing things about solar panels is their ability to keep generating electricity even when they take a hit. It's absolutely worth it to salvage most panels if their only damage is shattered glass and slightly bent frames. Here's what you need to know before you try to repair a solar panel:

As long as it's not leaking badly, it's fixable.

Your own panels may have been damaged in transport, battered by hail, or toppled by the wind. You may debate whether you should attempt to fix them. Or perhaps you've found some shattered panels being given away and you wonder if they're worth the trouble.

As long as the solar panels are not letting water or debris leak onto the interior photovoltaic cells, you should be able to make them work again. Even small leaks may be repaired, and you definitely want to be certain panels are able to be water-proofed before doing any further work.

Be cautiously optimistic when evaluating panels for repair.

Chances are, when you expose a shattered solar panel to the sun, it will still generate electricity. Verify that this is the case by hooking the panel wires up to a voltmeter. Even on an overcast day, a functioning solar panel should deliver some voltage.

Be extremely cautious around any damaged panels as you work with them, since there may be very tiny slivers and crumbles of glass hiding on the panel surface. There should be a film behind the glass to hold it in place, but this safety measure may be compromised, and glass bits on the top surface won't be held in place this way anyway.

Wear gloves and safety goggles to avoid injury. Carefully vacuum--or take a damp rag and wipe at the surface of--any shattered panel to remove glass fragments.

Use a light touch when recoating solar panel glass.

People have used various techniques to recoat their solar panels. Options include sealing with clear polyurethane, coating with clear resin, and attaching clear film or new glass sheets to panels.

If you choose to recoat the solar panels with polyurethane spray or resin, use a light touch when applying very thin coats to avoid air bubbles. Use a trowel to spread coats evenly, and sand in between coats to achieve a smooth finish.

If you're attaching new film or glass, reinforce solar panel frames with wood braces or cross bracing to provide the proper support and rigidity.

A glass replacement professional can hook you up with the tools and products you need to attach new glass or apply a new coating or safety film, and they have tips to help you maintain your glass solar panels to avoid problems in the future. Visit Action Glass for more information.