The 8 Most Common Solar Panel Problems You May Encounter

At Sun-Wind Solutions, we have seen how investing in a commercial solar energy system can generate long-term savings, as recent federal tax credits, state rebates, and accelerated depreciation help reduce the initial cost of solar panel installation. In addition, with continuously rising utility rates, a solar power system can lower or stabilize your power costs over time.

However, like anything else, your solar power systems and their components may need infrequent maintenance for peak performance. Your solar array is outdoors in all types of weather 365 days a year and may require tweaks over its lifetime. Here are 8 of the most common issues that may require repair.

Prevention with Solar Panel Maintenance

While they require very little maintenance overall, you’ll need to keep up with manufacturers’ recommended maintenance to maximize efficiency and ensure you get the most from your solar system. If you are in a high dust or dirt environment (i.e., ranches or farms) cleaning your panels helps avoid build-up that can obscure sunlight and reduce output performance. Additionally, a professional twice-yearly solar panel inspection is recommended (Spring & Fall). During our inspections, Sun-Wind experts will check the functioning of your solar system to ensure you have reliable operation throughout the year!

Common reasons you may have reduced solar array performance

If you experience any issues or damage to your solar panels, the first thing to do is to call our team to inspect your solar system. We will check everything, including wiring, glass components, and the mounting frames. Often, we find that the issue stems from one of the following causes:

#1 Solar Energy System Installation Issues

Solar panel installation requires a highly skilled team. Look for a team like Sun-Wind that is knowledgeable with best practices for wire management, appropriate orientation, and installation techniques—all necessary components when installing panels correctly and safely.

Wire conductors should not experience damage or extreme bends. They must also be bundled together efficiently with clear labeling so future maintenance can proceed without disruption. Moreover, proper solar panel alignment assures optimal sunlight exposure, and the correct orientation depends on each site, as trees, structures, and more can dictate the best direction.

Improper solar panel installation can cause the following issues:

a. Water Leaks

When having your rooftop solar installation done, it’s essential to partner with a reliable solar installation company. Poorly installed panels can lead to damaging roof penetrations that cause hazardous leaks during heavy rain storms. Ensure there are no gaps in your system and address any problems immediately for optimum safety and long-term protection of your property.

b. Poor racking

Securing your solar panels with a photovoltaic (PV) mounting system is essential to protect their longevity. Maintaining industry standards and ensuring all bolts are correctly tightened will ensure that these panels can withstand the elements without risk of displacement or damage.

c. Shoddy electrical work

Avoid problems by ensuring your solar panel installation is managed responsibly by professionals like Sun-Wind with extensive experience in the field. You don’t want to be left dealing with time or loss of production.

d. Insufficient solar exposure

To ensure you are making maximum use of your solar panels, it’s crucial for them to be installed at an optimal angle. Our Sun-Wind experts will ensure each solar panel is at the best angle for maximum power output.

#2 Solar System Inverter Failures

Most inverter failures occur shortly after the installation of a solar array. Solar inverters are complex pieces of electrical technology that enable useful solar energy production that, like any piece of machinery, can occasionally experience failure. Solar inverters can quickly cease functioning without proper string connectors and grounding.

If your solar inverter is malfunctioning, don’t worry! The specialists at Sun-Wind Solutions are experienced in providing fault code analyses and rapid solar system repair. Bird Droppings on a Solar Panel

#3 Animal Damage to Your Solar Energy System

Another major source of physical damage to solar panels comes from our friendly neighborhood creatures. The warmth given off by solar panels can be inviting for birds, rodents, raccoons, and all kinds of mammals. Unfortunately, this attraction may lead to problems with your system as these animals can cause scratches and chew through wires, build nests, and leave bird droppings that interfere with efficiency. If you find damage simply give us a call to discuss next steps.

#4 Communication Issues

A dependable internet connection is vital for optimal solar system performance. Without one, your inverter won’t be able to communicate how much electricity it’s producing or receive software updates necessary for efficient functioning, which could lead you and your solar company blind as far as troubleshooting issues with the system. Common causes of solar panel communication problems include wires that have come loose and faulty routers due to new setup or provider changes. Often connection issues are a simple fix that doesn’t require a service technician to repair solar panels. If you aren’t able to get it going on your own, however, our Sun-Wind team is happy to help!

#5 Electrical Problems

Solar panels rely on solid electrical connections to stay operational. When issues arise with the connections, such as a loose wire or breaks in the wiring, defects can compromise power output and even trigger arc fault codes.

Electrical faults can be hazardous, so knowing the signs of a ground fault or arc fault in your solar power system is essential. Damaged wires cause ground faults, while arc faults occur due to loose wiring connections. Fortunately, all inverters come with sensors that will automatically detect these issues and shut down power until they’re appropriately fixed. If you spot either of these problems in your solar system, make sure to call a qualified technician before trying any DIY fixes—safety always comes first!

At Sun-Wind Solutions, we understand the importance of a proper solar panel installation to avoid future electrical problems. That’s why our experienced experts take great care to ensure compatibility between your solar panels and the electric grid and deliver maximum efficiency over time. Additionally, twice-yearly inspections are recommended maintenance measures that preserve ideal functioning by checking all components remain secure with no damage in sight.

#6 Micro-cracks

Solar cells are incredibly thin, making them sensitive to heat. During the day when temperatures rise, they expand and contract in response to these fluctuations. If expansion joints are not used per manufacturers specs tiny micro- fractures or “micro-cracks” can form. Unfortunately, this degradation reduces energy output and the system lifetime for solar photovoltaic (PV) systems, so ensuring durability is essential. If you want to avoid micro-cracks, DO NOT WALK ON THEM.

#7 Snail Trails on Solar Panels

Solar panels are exposed to the elements and, over time, often succumb to discoloration known as ‘snail trails. These telltale lines appear due to microcracks during extended outdoor exposure. Snail Trails occur after a chemical reaction of silver acetate and carbon dioxide on the grid of a solar panel. This reaction causes the appearance of snail trails on the solar panel because of the chemical breakdown.

The defects of the raw material and production process accelerate this effect. These manufacturing defects possibly lead to micro-cracks forming, where moisture and oxygen easily leak inside. In general, micro-cracks are the leading cause of snail trails on solar panels.

Snail Trails don’t just reduce the aesthetic appeal of solar panels. Damaged solar panels also reduce power production efficiency mainly due to micro-cracks that appear before the snail trails. Also, Snail Trails cause resistance to the flow of current in solar panels, resulting in hotspots and reduced solar panel power output. Sun Wind’s inspections can identify compromised solar panels in your array and replace just those panels to bring your system back to full power output.

#8 Roof Issues

Solar panels are usually installed on roofs to be exposed to the most sunlight and be out of the way. Many roofing companies have seen issues with solar systems because of improper installation. You may pay a lot for roof or solar array repair costs without proper planning and installation. Here are some common roofing issues that occur with solar panel installation:

a. Roof Leaks

Solar panels can disrupt water flow along your roof and, if installed incorrectly, may cause leakage around the attachment points. More panels can mean more penetrative connection points unless a balusted system is used. This increases susceptibility to leaking over time. For commercial flat roofs, a twice-yearly inspection and maintenance are recommended to ensure they stay leak-free.

b. Roof Age

While solar energy systems have an estimated lifespan of 25 to 30 years—the same as traditional building shingles—it may be wise to replace your roof before installing them to reap maximum long-term benefits. If you determine that a solar energy system is a good fit for your building, timing their installation properly can help ensure optimal efficiency and cost savings over time. However, if it isn’t time for a roof replacement, don’t let that deter you from having your solar system installed now.

c. Roof Strength

Solar panels weigh about 50 lbs each, not including the racking used to support them. One of our expert solar contractors at Sun-Wind can consult on the viability of your current roof. Prior to obtaining a building permit for installation the municipality and AHJ require an engineer’s confirmation of a roof’s ability to sustain the weight and wind uplift.

How do you know if a solar panel is broken?


Micro-cracks, also called micro-fractures, are a form of solar cell degradation that can impair energy output and reduce the system lifetime of a PV setup. These fractures occur when small imperfections in very thin silicon cells cause them to expand and contract with thermal cycling. As temperatures peak during the day, so do these cracks lengthen across entire cells or smaller sections. Proper expansion joints will remedy this.

Micro-cracks have the potential to disrupt electrical pathways. However, micro-cracks may go undetected because they can sometimes have little to no effects. Micro-cracks also have the potential to produce hot spots, which occur when the internal resistance of the damaged cell rises and causes cell temperature to rise. Hot spots are known to cause further damage to solar modules.

Loose wiring

Over time, the electrical wires that run under a solar panel can become loose or disconnected. Left unchecked, this could lead to serious problems like panels not working properly—or connectors failing. To avoid such risks, it’s wise to take precautionary steps and have your system checked for any signs of faulty wiring by an expert in solar panel repair. Doing so may save you from costly repairs down the line as well as ensure the safe operation of your solar energy setup.


Yellowing of PV cells happens when the optical degradation of the ethyl vinyl acetate (EVA) where the clear encapsulant becomes visibly yellow or even brown.

High-quality EVA must be used to let through lower wavelengths to ensure the best performance. Unfortunately, many solar providers substitute cheaper materials with good intentions but bad results—such as reduced life expectancy from yellowed materials leading to power loss due to degradation over time. That’s why Sun-Wind Solutions uses state-of-the-art tier 1 high-efficiency components and never compromises on the quality and integrity of your system.

When to Contact a Solar Provider for Your Broken Solar Panel

Even if you experience solar panel damage, they may continue to operate. However, they may not perform to their maximum potential, depending on the level of damage.

Thankfully we have reliable ways to fix or replace most broken solar panels. If your solar panel is cracked, the safest solution is to call a reliable solar panel provider to assess the damage and propose the best repair solution. Even though the solar panel replacement process can be an inconvenient cost, this may be the wisest option.

Don’t hesitate to contact a solar panel expert at Sun-Wind Solutions if your panels’ performance deteriorates noticeably or if you see signs of physical damage or discoloration. In addition, when we have access to your monitoring we often see things before you ever know there’s an issue.

Why You Should Trust Sun-Wind Solutions for Your Connecticut Solar Panel Repairs

Our highly experienced team of experts and certified professionals are fully equipped to meet any solar panel repair or replacement needs your business may have. With a wide variety of knowledge, each phase of the project will be handled with specialized attention from our technicians. We are committed to answering all questions and concerns so that you feel comfortable every step along the way—we believe in treating every business like our own!

If you are looking for solar panel maintenance or repair, contact us today for a free assessment and ensure you’re getting the most out of your green investment!

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