How to repair your Solar Panels
A lot has been said about flexible solar panels, one of the things is that they stop producing power quite easily. One of the reasons is the degradation of their protective coating/top layer, that with time becomes milky/cloudy
But can this be reversed or repaired?
As expressed in one of our previous posts, Flexible solar panels - second season of use update, our flexible solar panels started performing less efficiently since we arrived in the Med (one season after installation).
The reasons for the lower performance can be attributed to the increasing temperatures that affect the panel efficiency and also the degradation of the panels top layer (some kind of acrylic material).
Our glorious flexible solar panels, that kept us in power for a lot of the last year are now looking a bit tired and frosty, we are in the process of buying new panels but have decided that the longer we wait for the better in terms of price and technology.
While we wait for the new panels to appear, we decided to try and revive our old panels inspired on the great results we had when we polished our boat, windows included. A few weeks before, with some care, we had managed to polish our windows removing all the oxidation of 5 years of sun and salt exposure so we were now hoping we could get similar results on the solar panels and prolong their operational life.
We removed the panels from the bimini frame and placed them on the dock.
They had faded and were looking very milky, a definite sign of degradation and oxidation of the top layer, we found no other signs of damage.
The one big sign of the impacts of time was a definite drop off in power production, I guess to be expected.
We got out our recently purchased Rupes orbital polisher, we had great success when polishing the boat so thought we would give polishing the cloudy solar panels ago.
We first hit the panels with a medium polish (Rupes Marine polish) then finish them with a run with the fine polish (Rupes Marine polish) and a quick wipe.
To our shock when we polished them they came up looking like almost new, yes our two-year-old flexible solar panels now look almost like NEW. Also to our surprise we are now back to the kWh numbers similar to when we first purchased them.
We suggest to anyone throwing away flexible panels because they are faded and producing less power to try polishing them first, you may squeeze a little bit more out of your investment.
This in no way changes our decision to buy new rigid panels in the near future, we want more production capacity and at the moment there’s no option on the flexible panels market that meets our needs, in our opinion the current installation set up suits us perfectly and for the rigid ones we would need to change it quite a bit.
But with the results of our experience we now think we may get another year from these flexible ones before we commit to a set of new ridged ones, maybe the market of the flexible panels evolves and a new product becomes available...
RUPES LHR21 Mark 2 orbital polisher
RUPES 9.BFGMEDIUM polish
RUPES 9.BFGFINE Polish
RUPES 9.BW180 wool pad
RUPES 9.BF180M/50 Fine foam pad
Check out the video showing how we repaired our flexible solar panels below.
***ANYONE that wishes to use this information to perform any sort of repair or maintenance to their solar panels, do so at their own risk. Sailing The Dream does not bear any responsibility for the results.
*** The above post is the sole opinion of the website owners based on their experience. The information is shared for reference only.
*** Sailing The Dream is not affiliated or endorsed by Rupes or by any of their associated resellers.
We are, however, open to testing any Rupes products.