Solar Panels are very unlikely to stop working, which is why they usually come with a 25 year guarantee. Our performance warranty is 30 years. 
They contain no moving parts, so there’s nothing to break down or need replacing.
But that doesn’t mean they are indestructible or won’t develop the odd fault.

So, what are the biggest problems with solar panels, and the systems they feed, according to the people who have them?

Micro Cracks in the Solar Cells

Micro cracks are cracks in the PV cells themselves.
While cracks in the glass can affect the efficiency of a panel but nowhere near as much as cracks in the cells themselves.
The cracks appear at the time of manufacture, as they are a fault in the production, this can be due to shoddy workmanship, low Q.C, or faulty materials.
Any tear in the silicon cell itself will ‘interrupt’ the flow of electrons across that cell and lower the amount of electricity that the cell can produce.
Unfortunately, if a cell has a micro crack in it, it will only get worse over the lifetime of the panel and there is nothing that a customer can do about it.
That said, this should be covered under the manufacturer’s warranty.

Shading of Panels 

This is definitely something that you can deal with as a customer.
When your solar panels are installed, the fitter should work out which parts of the array will be shaded by trees or foliage.
They should install optimisers on any panels that are experiencing shading so that they are functioning at the same efficiency as the rest of the array.
However, if the trees keep growing over your home, which obviously we like to encourage because trees are great, they may cause shading on your panels.
There are number of ways to combat shading.

Most installations put the panels in series, which means ‘Panel 1’ is plugged into ‘Panel 2’, which is plugged into ‘Panel 3’ and so on.
The charge must flow from Panel 1, through the others, to the inverter. If one of the panels in the line is shaded, it will bring down the efficiency of the whole line.
So, fitting the panels in parallel, meaning they all flow into the inverter without going through another panel, will reduce any losses due to shading.
The only other way to combat a loss of efficiency due to shading, short of hacking the trees down, is to fit optimisers to the affected panels.

Hot spots in Solar Cells and Panels

This another one down to manufacture or fitting.
Hot spots are caused by ‘dry’ solder joints or bad connections – mostly the bad connections, as panels are tested for ‘flow’ before they leave the factory.
When electricity encounters a dry joint, or a slight gap in a connection, it will ‘jump’ across the gap and cause ‘arcing’.
If you could see it, you would see a tiny spark in the area where the fault has occurred – those sparks will heat the area they are in and will either reduce the panel’s efficiency by making the silicon warmer or could even start a fire.
The good news for the customer is, if it’s a bad connection it can be repaired by the installer.
It’s always a good idea to keep an eye on your inverter, or monitoring system, to make sure all the readings are correct and there is no loss of efficiency.

Nature damage

Birds, insects, and rodents can all cause damage to your panels.
Obviously, the avian hooligans are the most problematic.
Droppings, nests, and sharp beaks can all affect the efficiency of your panels by causing shading, damaging the glass and creating a mess all over your roof.
Bird nets are the easiest and most cost-effective way of preventing bird damage.
Nets won’t stop rodents and insects though, for that you may need to investigate the roof to see what you are dealing with … or hire a professional to take a look for you.
And, to be fair, insect damage is exceedingly rare. You may experience some shading if a colony of bees, or similar, make a nest on your roof, but unless there is some kind of insect plague in your area, the panels will be safe from six-legged critters.
Keep an eye out for squirrels though – they can nibble your wires and damage your panels.
They do prefer trees to roofs though, so we don’t need to worry too much about Tufty and his chums.


The myth is: recycling solar equipment is difficult and rarely found,
That just isn’t true.
Batteries and Inverters can be recycled the same way as any other types of batteries and electronic equipment, usually by dropping them at your local tip where specialist companies will take them away and safely use the component parts.
Panels are a bit trickier, but it is illegal to dump them or put them in landfill in the UK, as they contain a small amount of toxic waste.
For this reason, solar panel recycling companies are starting to pop up all over the country.

Learn more about solar panel recycling.


A solar energy system stands or falls on the inverter, it’s the piece of equipment that transforms the energy from your panels to energy you can use in your home.
If it’s a hybrid, it will be feeding the electricity to your battery and monitoring its charge.
Inverters tend to be pretty robust though, especially as the modern ones use heatsinks to stay cool rather than fans, so they have no moving parts.
So, if your inverter is not performing correctly, it’s best to check the panels for shading and damage or make sure that the battery hasn’t reached the end of its lifecycle.
If your panels and battery are in tip top condition, then you’ll need to call the experts in to investigate the problem.

Weather damage

This is probably one of the things we need to worry about least here in the UK, as we very rarely experience extreme weather events.
Solar Panels are tested for some pretty robust weather.
Testing for hail, rain, snow, hurricanes, and high temperatures are all part of the quality control process for solar panels.
Sometimes though, the weather can throw things at us that we just can’t predict, and these things may cause damage.
Unusually high winds can dislodge or move panels, excessive heat can increase the resistance of cells, 5 cm of snow will block any light getting to the cells, very large hail can smash the glass on the panel and, if you are very unlucky, a direct lighting strike can fry a panel.
If you experience any usual weather event, it’s worth checking on your system straight afterwards.

Degradation of the Cells

The Solar Cells themselves are subject to natural degradation due to the lifespan of silicon.
Each panel is subject to 0.5% loss of efficiency every 12 months.
As you can imagine, that will not affect the efficiency of the panels a great deal each year.
In fact, panels are guaranteed for 25 years on this aspect of their performance.

Visually naff

This one is very subjective as it seems to differ in relation to age and location.
Making a very wide generalisation, research shows that people under 50, and those who live in more urban areas, prefer the look of a home with solar panels on than those from the countryside or over 50.
That is by no means a scientific statement and the public is a fickle beast, so we think the way panels look isn’t quite the problem people think it is.
That said, the latest, modern, black-on-black panels look super sexy and, as a bonus, they have a much higher efficiency rating.
On top of that, thin coverings are currently being developed that would allow light to travel to the cells, while ‘camouflaging’ the panels themselves.

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