Solar Consumer Reporting

solar good and bad equipment

Solar Failures and success

This page will contain verified reports of any solar panel failures. Let me know your results and feed back.

It will also contain any known issues with location and installations issues


                                                                    PANEL FAILURES and Recalls

2001 many Kyocera panels as they went to leadless connections. I have verified KC120 and KC80 panels with this problem. You can use a multi meter and measure the correct voltage but when you measure the amperage it is very low.CAUTION-Be careful measuring amperage, don't leave your meter in the configuration, anything you connect to is like a direct short.

Kyocera did a full swap , KC-80 panels (2001 mfg dates). They paid for everything except the time & effort to replace them. 

25% of the panels suffered from moderate to full degradation. There was no sign of discoloration on the back of any panels and no tell tale signs of interconnection problems on the glass side. I've not heard of a post-2001 problem, Kyocera got their leadless solder process going smoothly. I recenlty learned , 2009 that Kyocera will recycle any broken or failed panels. Only one other maker, First Solar recycles their panels.
2002 about 28,000 panels made by photowatt.  They are a frecnh company and most were sold to Germany and Spain. About 10% of the panels were made by a machine that had a defective solder making connector. The result is that some of their panels would fail with a hot spot adter 2 to 3 years. You can see a dark spot on the tabs between cells on a bad opanel. It will not produce power but be very low if you tested with a amp meter as a short between the pos and neg leads on the panels.  See photon magazine Spring 2010 for details,.
2009 SUNPOWER- I have general information on some sunpower panels failing. I will get more details and add it here soon. As far as I heard once the problem was reported the panels were quickly fixed or replaced. I have a friend with a 3K system using SUNPOWER and it has been perfect and out performs with 20 KwH a day for over 1 year. Since these are the most efficient 22% per panel they could have some issues. As long as you monitor and report problems it's part of advancing the technology. ALWAYS MONITOR YOUR SYSTEM. Check the warranty page. It shows how SunPower has the best warranty and stands behind it ! 

 THIN FILM SOLAR- I have seen and heard from 2 main solar test facilities , ASP STAR center and TUV , that thin film has a very high failure rate. They can't give details by brand so be very careful. The oldest and best thin film maker I have seen is uni-solar. It could be just a few new brands that are failing. If you have any brand detail you could share let me know. Please contact me jim stack

thin film data- I found a study on IEEE, from a NREL PV System Performance & Standards Technical Progress FY 2004 . It shows and tells about thin film failures. Key is they show hot spots in a framed modual. Only First Solar made any in 2004. They have improved a lot since 2004. The link is below.

                                                     KNOWN ISSUES WITH LOCATION AND INSTALLATION-

1- Solar panels will not work as good in high heat. Do not mount panels with no air space under them on a roof or other mounting. Always allow good air flow around panels and inverters.

2- Most solar panels have all the cells on a panel connected in series, IE + to - and shade on any one cell can reduce or stop the power for the entire panel. So do not mount the panels so they get even a small area of shade on them. Watch the shade during the entire day. If a panel is near a side wall, tree, chimney or even a pipe or flag pole it may shade cells during the day reducing output.

Shade or Partial shade on newer high voltage DC systems (200-600 VDC) can really cause problems. There have been a few rare cases that caused a panel to over heat and break, a few have has the connection box actually explode. High voltage trying to by pass through diodes of a shaded panels can cause this type of failre. BE SURE YOU DON'T HAVE SHADE on panels.

3- Always have the panels facing true south and at the angle of your latitude + or - 15 degrees.  If they are pole mounted you can adjust the angle for winter , mid year and summer to get the most from the panels. A tracker that moves on 2 axis can help the output but can add expense and possible problems. You must decide what's best for your location. Panels facing West or East will be 10% less output.

4- You need clear area that is in the direct sun. Check your area for the number of clear sunny days and the number of Sun hours each day. I used to live in upstate New York which doesn't have much clear sun at all. Now I live in Arizona that has some of the best and clearest sun in the world. A cool Sunny area is even better.  Check the National Renewable Energy labs charts for your area.