The question of rust on solar panels is a popular one, and for good reason!

A solar panel is an expensive item to buy (especially if you have a large solar panel) and the last thing you want is to have them corroded by rust.

Rust on Solar Panels

Rust could affect the production of electricity intensity, meaning that your solar system doesn’t generate as much power. If solar is your primary power source, this is not a good thing!

Rust buildup can be caused by saltwater or other corrosive substances in the air.

This blog post will discuss how rust affects solar panel efficiency, what you can do to prevent rust build-up, and look into how salt can cause erosion on solar panels at a quicker rate than other substances.

What causes rust build-up on solar panels?

The output of PV panels will decline over their lifetime and they will produce less electricity. One reason is that the panel components are made of metals that will corrode over time.

A main contributing factor to rust in solar systems is corrosive substances in the air.

Reasons why a solar system could get rusty.

Solar cells can start to degrade and corrode due to unavoidable elements such as temperature, humidity, and UV irradiation.

They can also degrade due to avoidable factors such as poor installation methods.

The most common problem you’ll find with solar panels is that there are stains in certain spots where they have been hit by water droplets or been sprayed with other substances such as oily liquids or other corrosive substances carried in the air.

Reasons why a solar system could get rusty.

The location of your home plays an important role in the durability of your system as well, because certain climates have more humidity than others, making them more susceptible to rusting quicker than other areas.

If you live near the coast the air will contain salty moisture, which could speed up the rusting process.

Although the chemical process of rusting and corrosion is slower than you might think, solar panels are exposed 24/7 to the elements such as water, salt, acid rain, or snow, which can damage them if they’re not properly maintained.

It can be difficult to avoid all the problems that can lead to rust on solar systems, but there are some things you can do.

How do you prevent solar panels from getting rusty?

If you want to make sure that the power output and efficiency of your solar panels stay at the highest levels possible so they generate the maximum amount of electricity, it is important to prevent rust from building up in the system.

Cleaning

The location of your solar panels can have a significant impact and can give a clue as to how frequently they will need to be cleaned to help prevent potential rust and corrosion.

The distance from the ocean, snow or salt air has an effect, as does location in relation to sunlight exposure.

Man cleaning solar panels

The best way to prevent rust buildup on solar panel systems is to make sure that any water or other liquid spills are cleaned up quickly and thoroughly.

Inspect the panels regularly and remove any bird droppings, dust, or other substances that are building up on the surface. If you notice stains, then it’s time to clean those off too!

Take a look at some solar panel cleaning kits to help keep your solar systems sparkling!

Regular inspection

Inspecting your solar panels on a regular basis is also important for preventing rust build-up and corrosion. It’s recommended that you check for any signs of rusted, corroded, or missing parts every six months.

Take your regular domestic 1500-watt solar panel system. Make sure you check the base, the cable connections, the battery, and all devices and components in the system. It’s better to find corrosion early before it gets out of hand!

Also, check if the solar panels are working and that the inverters are showing green lights. If they aren’t flashing, you’re wasting money because your electricity usage isn’t being compensated.

To optimize solar panel maintenance, keep track of daily performance.

man inspecting solar panels

It’s critical to record how much energy was produced at a constant time each day, with specific attention paid to periods when the weather was very overcast. Some of the output will be unpredictable so this information will help you understand better how well the system is working.

Protection

The solar panels can be covered with a water-repellent coating to protect them from rain and moisture, which will help prevent corrosion and rust from building up on them over time.

Solar Panels Protection

Alternatively, you can place a protective layer over your PV cells, such as plexiglass, or even a panel protection kit, when a lot of wet weather is forecast.

Can the rust be removed?

The rust that has built up on your solar panels can be tough to remove. Depending on how far it has progressed, it could be removed with a brush and the correct cleaning solutions.

Rust Removal

We’d recommend you contact an expert for any repairs to the rusted areas if they cannot be easily cleaned using regular products, as they may need replacing if the corrosion has damaged them severely.

Will rust affect the efficiency of panels?

Rust solar panel buildup will not affect the performance of your system immediately.

These panels are quite robust, so they will continue to generate electricity even if they have started to corrode. In fact, it would likely take years before you notice any difference in efficiency between a rusty and clean panel.

effect of rust on solar panels

The rust presence will reduce the amount of energy that you can harvest from your panels, resulting in less power.

This means that as rust builds up over time, although they may still receive the same amount of sun your panels will be less efficient at turning that energy into usable power.

It is unlikely that rust will cause a major problem for your solar system, but if the worst does happen then you’ll want to know can solar panels be recycled?

The rust build-up should not affect panel efficiency as long as it is only a surface coating that can be cleaned off. However, if there are patches of corrosion underneath, then this may slightly decrease performance because some of the surfaces may be blocked from collecting energy from the sun.

Now that you know how to touch, diagnose and remove rust on your panels, there is no need to worry about your system becoming less efficient over time!

Can salt cause erosion?

Salt causes corrosion at a faster rate than most substances, which can lead to secret rusty spots turning into large patches of rusted metal quite quickly.

Saltwater has a different effect because it contains not only salt content but also other minerals and chemicals that can corrode materials at a faster rate than you would find in clean air.

Solar Panels on Boat

Having a home with solar panels within 200 meters of a beach can cause corrosion to occur even more quickly.

Reputable manufacturers will subject their products to rigorous tests to ensure that they are safe and durable. One such test is known as the ‘IEC 61701 Salt Mist Corrosion Test’ which aims to describe the level of resistance to corrosion.

Some manufacturers have even gone a step further by conducting studies on how long it takes for salt mist corrosion-related issues to happen, in order to work out an estimated time frame. This allows them to use technology to ensure they manufacture their products at a suitable level.

Salty air is a major factor in how fast your system gets corroded but there are other factors like trees, shedding, leaves, or animals urinating that also contribute to this issue when they come into contact with the ground around your solar panels.

Are solar panels worth the investment when considering the rust issues?

Two men carrying solar panel

Solar panels are a great investment for anyone looking to save money on their energy bill. They’re also very resilient and will likely go unaffected, especially if you clean and maintain them well!

They have been around for years now, so even though researchers are still learning how to make less corrosive cells, you will still be saving in the long run.

They really are worth the investment!