Today solar energy is vastly used in many countries. As it is clean, free, and renewable energy it saves your money and the environment. Using solar-powered devices and using solar power systems is one of the best solutions for today’s energy crisis. When using a solar-powered device or solar power system you may get different questions about maintenance and proper use. Proper maintenance and proper use are the best ways for prolonged use of your solar power system or solar-powered device. When we look into the major components of a solar power system or solar-powered device, the solar panel is the most important part. Some users have this thought that they have to cover the solar panels for many reasons. In this article, we hope to discuss why they think that they have to cover the solar panels and do they really have to do like that.
Should you really have to cover the solar panels? Actually, it depends according to the wish of the user. Anyway, it is not required to cover solar panels but there are some instances like not having a charging controller that may require the covering of solar panels.
Why do some users think that they have to cover solar panels when not in use?
As we said before many solar power system users and solar-powered device users tend to cover the solar panels when they are not using those. So let’s see why they are reluctant to leave open the solar panels.
- Extreme weather conditions – extreme weather conditions are one of the main reasons that we have to stop using the solar system temporarily. Snowstorms, sand storms, heavy rains, and hurricanes are a few of them. In these weather conditions, many users think that there is a possibility that the panels can be damaged due to sand, or snow accumulation. So they tend to cover the panels. Actually, do they have to do that?
- Accumulation of dust and debris when not in use for a prolonged period.
- They think that batteries will be overcharged.
Before getting further into this it is better if you have a basic idea about the structure of the solar panels and how they are installed.
Structure of the solar panels and how they are installed in the system
As you all know that major components of the solar system are; solar panels, inverter, solar panel mounting system/ racking, and solar battery storage. Not like other components solar panels are placed outside most of the time. So manufacturers are mostly targeting increasing the durability of the panels. Most manufactures assure that the solar panels are durable to high wind and snow.
Let’s see the structure of the solar panel:
Solar panels are made up of solar cells. There are two EVA films above and below the cells. These cells are laminated in between these two films. There is a vacuum space between the films. This is very important for the lifetime of the components.
Then there is a back sheet/ back film below the cells and EVA film. This back film is very important for sealing, waterproofing, and insulation. This film will protect your cells from any water leakage during the rain.
Then there is an aluminum alloy frame surrounding the panels. This supports the panel and protects it from external forces. But this alloy frame is not enough to protect panels from heavy forces. So always be aware of possible external damages.
Then most top there is tempered glass. This is made to be durable for snow, dust, and debris accumulation. This can hold weight up to some extent. So you do not have to worry about snow accumulation until you reach that.
Then when installing solar panels your service provider will make sure that your roof is strong enough to hold the solar panel. Then they will properly fix the solar panels to your roof. So even in the high wind, these panels will not blow up.
When choosing a solar device or a system, make sure that you are getting quality products. To produce quality products manufacturers use high-quality materials. Even though they can be a little bit overpriced it is okay to pay that price due to efficiency and durability.
Do you really have to cover the solar panels?
Now you have a basic idea about the structure of the solar panel and how they are installed. So let’s see are those reasons really valid for covering your panels.
- Extreme weather conditions
Usually, solar panels are designed to be left outdoors. So they are designed to face harsh weather. Solar companies mostly care about the durability of the solar panels. So most probably sand or snow accumulation on the solar panels may not cause any physical damages.
But in such extreme weather conditions, objects such as tree branches can fall on the panels. This kind of damage cannot be avoided even if you use a solar panel cover. Even though solar companies offer a warranty period of more than 20 years it is only for the production so damages due to natural disasters are not covered under most warranty agreements. But some manufacturers offer warranties for environmental damages for up to 10- 15 years. If the manufacturer does not offer a warranty for environmental damages, you can insure your solar panel through a solar company or on your own. By this, you can cover the repairing cost even though you are not able to stop the damage. Also when installing your solar system, make sure there are no huge trees or any objects that will fall on the panels nearby.
- Accumulation of dust and debris when not in use for a prolonged period.
When you are not using your solar system for a prolonged period there can be an accumulation of dust or debris. So to minimize that users tend to use cover. Even though you do that you must maintain regular maintenance to make sure that there are no physical damages or to avoid potential damages even you are not using them. If you are living in an area with fewer trees, fewer birds, or less dust there is no point in covering the panels. But if you are living in a dusty area or area with lots of trees and birds it is wise to use cover as it will minimize the amount of cleaning you have to do.
- To prevent overcharging
Many users are afraid that if they let the solar panels to be exposed to the sunlight even when they are not using the system it will overcharge the battery and the system and the system will be damaged. This can happen if you did not install a charge controller in your system.
If you installed a charge controller it works as a switch. It will prevent overcharging your battery and protect your system. The charge controller will control the charging of your system and it will break the system when the battery is fully charged. So as you can see there is no point in covering the panels if you have installed a charging controller to your system.
What to do if you are anxious about damages happening to your solar panels?
As we explained throughout this whole article you do not have to worry about damages happening to your solar panels. Also using cover is not much useful in preventing damages. So let’s see what you can do if you are really anxious.
- Insure your panels
As we mentioned before you can insure your solar panel on your own or through a solar company. Even though this cannot prevent damages at least it can cover your cost.
- Portable solar panels
If you are really anxious about leaving your solar panels outside without any cover you can always use a portable solar panel. When you are using a portable solar panel you can leave it outside when there are good sunlight and nice weather. If the weather is worse you can store it inside. The only downside is that it cannot generate a large amount of power.
| Conclusion |
As you can see covering solar panels is not a mandatory requirement. But it can be useful in some cases. Anyway, it is totally depended on the preference of the user. As there are no significant disadvantages the decision is in your hand.