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Can photovoltaic solar panels be stepped on?

Can we step on the photovoltaic modules? What happens when we step on photovoltaic solar panels? It is common to see photos and videos of people walking or stepping on the modules. It is advisable?

Can photovoltaic solar panels be stepped on?

No, we cannot step on the photovoltaic modules . The answer to this question is a resounding “NO”. The answer seems obvious to some, but comes as a surprise to many others. Who has never seen photos of installers leaning on or even stepping on photovoltaic modules?

Unfortunately, we find many photovoltaic installations made by bad professionals, unprepared and untrained in the correct handling of photovoltaic modules.

The photo below is just a small example of the things that make many PV modules work properly. The photo was taken in a photovoltaic installation just after its inauguration. The client is not aware of the possibility that his modules could be damaged by an unprepared professional during the installation or maintenance service.

Don’t you think that a simple step could damage the module? Thermographs of photovoltaic modules in operation show the damage they can suffer.

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Thermography is a photograph taken with an infrared camera, capable of identifying the temperature on the entire surface of the photovoltaic module. Hot spots and regions, with temperatures well above normal, are an indication that something is wrong with the affected part of the module.

The thermography procedure is normally carried out during the commissioning of the photovoltaic system. Commissioning is a set of tests and inspections carried out just after the installation of the solar plant, in order to detect defects in the installations and photovoltaic equipment. In addition to the right tools, the experience and attention of a professional are very important for the detection of defects.

The thermography of the modules can reveal the existence of “hotspots” (hot spots) caused by defective photovoltaic cells . Cell defects can be caused by manufacturing issues, but this is unlikely when modules are purchased from quality and reliable suppliers , as all modules are inspected at the end of the production line before being shipped to the clients. In most cases, when defects and hot spots are detected, the problems are due to impacts suffered during transportation or mainly during installation .

It’s not uncommon to see installers step on modules or pile them up carelessly. A photovoltaic module needs a lot of care ! Any impact, even light trampling, can cause micro cracks in the photovoltaic cells. Microcracks are invisible and their effect can only be detected with specialized tools .

A faulty module can compromise system performance or can cause a fire in extreme cases. The defect will not be noticeable if a thermal analysis of the system is not performed.

And if the module already comes with a defect, how can we know? First of all, it is always good to use modules from reliable manufacturers and suppliers. Large manufacturers have their products certified by international standards. One of the tests required by the standards is ‘electroluminescence’. This test can only be done at the factory, because it uses special equipment that allows a kind of “X-ray” of the module to be made.

Microcracks in the panels are not visible to the human eye and can only be captured by a special camera.

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