When shopping for a solar panel brand, the issues at the forefront of people’s minds are usually topics such as the efficiency and wattage of a solar energy system. An issue often not given due attention is solar panel glass. The type of glass on a solar panel really does matter.
When you buy a solar panel, it’s a long term investment. It should serve you well for decades. While most manufacturers offer lengthy warranties, up to 25 years, it’s important to note the manufacturer needs to be around to honour it. There’s still many fly-by-nighters in the solar panel industry. They cut prices by cutting corners on component quality.
While a warranty from a solid company is a great insurance policy, there’s also the inconvenience of needing to make a warranty claim. You have to pull the panels down and take them in to the company. It’s all very disruptive and stressful. It’s best to have peace of mind from the outset. You can only have that if every part of the panel is of the highest possible quality.
The dangers of cheap solar panel glass
Cheap solar panel glass can cloud over time. Clouded glass greatly reduces solar panel efficiency. Broken glass, aside from being a general safety issue and even if the glass only cracks, can allow water to penetrate and create a fire hazard. Water and electricity simply do not mix.
When selecting either a monocrystalline, polycrystalline or amorphous solar panel, be sure to check out the type of glass on the panel. Look for panels that utilize tempered glass. There should be a clear statement to this effect in the panel specifications.
Why is glass used for solar panels?
Glass is used for solar panels due to a variety of reasons. One, glass in solar panels is used because it can transmit sunlight without absorbing it.
Second, the glass acts as a mirror, featuring a reflective coating on one or both sides that helps concentrate sunlight.
Third, glass is durable. Most solar panel glasses are tempered because they can withstand extreme weather conditions better.
Glass is easy to clean and will not require any special material. All you need is soap and water and you’re all set.
Also one of the best things about glass solar panels is that they are easy to recycle. Once a solar completes its useful life, the glass can be broken down into small pieces and heated to powder. The power can be used in other products, such as fibreglass, building insulation, or flat panel displays.
What is tempered glass?
Tempered glass, also known as safety glass or toughened glass, is up to six times the strength of normal plate glass. Its manufacture is by thermal or chemical means. We’ve witnessed panels using tempered glass flip over onto rock strewn ground with some force without breaking. This is something we obviously do not recommend trying out, but it goes to show how strong the material is. When tempered glass does break, it shatters into small pieces rather than creating long and razor sharp shards.
Flat plate glass in solar panels
This is most often found in cheaper brands of monocrystalline and polycrystalline panels made by small, relatively unknown companies. However it can also be found in well known brands in amorphous (thin film) solar panels that have a glass plate component.
Most amorphous panels can only use flat plate glass due to their method of construction. Amorphous panels’ usual creation involves applying special silicon rich gas called silane at high temperatures directly to the back of a glass plate or to a steel plate. Some manufacturers get around the comparative weakness by using thicker flat plate glass. However, this is still not as strong as using white tempered glass.
When buying solar panels, don’t forget that this is an important point to check on – as mentioned, it should be clearly stated on the product specifications as to the type of glass used as it’s an important feature. If it doesn’t, the chances are it’s flat plate glass and you should probably avoid those.
Pick up some more helpful tips for choosing solar panels
Energy Matters stocks a huge range of monocrystalline, polycrystalline and amorphous (thin film) solar panels. All are from quality manufacturers, all with full warranties, all adhering to the IEC 61730 solar panel standard and all at discount prices!
Don’t forget, you might also be eligible for solar power rebates if purchasing panels as part of a full system!
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