Which System Is Best To Avoid Solar Panel Corrosion
Australians love the beach, so much so, that the majority of our cities are coastal. While that is fantastic for lifestyle, for anything metal corrosion becomes an issue. So how do you get the best of both worlds? The beach lifestyle on the coast and the benefits of solar panels without the Solar Panel Corrosion?
There are three main ways salt mist can affect your solar panel system:
- Salt Corrosion
- Galvanic Corrosion
- Sea Grime
Firstly, you should only be looking at using a Tier 1 panel (whether you are on the coastline or not). Each solar panel product also comes standard with a datasheet, that gives you the specifications for each panel. From there you simply look for “Salt mist corrosion resistance” on the datasheet. Solar panel datasheets don’t hide something as unique as this, so their corrosion resistance will be listed, not simply hidden behind a number.
Secondly ensure an independent third party has verified the panel meets the standard and given it the certification to prove it. A standard for salt mist resistance for solar panels has been set by the IEC or International Electrotechnical Commission. Panels have to meet a standard called IEC 61701 to be suitable for installation near the sea.
This is one (of the many) reasons we use LG Solar Panels. With over 200 lesser known brand panels selling in Australia, here at Omega Solar+ Batteries, we believe LG Solar panels offer peace of mind, as they are backed by an established global brand.
Within 200 Meters Of The Beach Is the Corrosion Zone
The coastal wind and waves can send sea spray well over 100 meters inland, so we recommend panels are corrosion resistant if they are installed within 200 metres of the of the beach. In a reasonably sheltered area, there is rarely be salt mist more than 100 metres from the beach, but have a look around your home at balcony railings, nails, air conditioner units, anything that might show signs of excessive rust. If there is signs of above average rust or corrosion, simply don’t take the chance.
Corrosion Resistance Levels For Solar Panels
The IEC 61701 standard has six levels of corrosion resistance. Each level must survive a certain number of days of testing to simulate decades of exposure to salt with an allowance of a certain amount of power decline. Bearing in mind the average panel warranty is 25 years, you will want a product that has a lifespan of 25 years constantly exposed to all the elements.
- Level 1 is suitable fora little bit of salt every now and then.
- Level 2 isn’t normally used
- Levels 3 to 6 represent increasing levels of corrosion resistance.
- Level 5 panels must survive 56 days of testing simulating years of exposure
- Level 6 rating panels have to survive 112 days of testing that simulates decades of exposure to a salty environment with less than 2% decline in power output.
For peace of mind we recommend a panel with level 6 resistance.
Its not all about the solar panel
Corrosion will also affect the electrical wires and contacts in the solar panel and its junction box, unless its made of gold, then you won’t have a corrosion problem. Its for this reason the panel frames also need to be from a marine grade aluminium alloy which resist corrosion.
Galvanic corrosion occurs when two different metals come in contact with each other. In dry conditions this is often not a problem, but add in salt mist and the more vulnerable of the two metals can quickly corrode. A classic example is when the solar panel aluminium frame is in contact with steel mounting hardware. Where the metals touch is where the corrosion will eat into the aluminium frame. While in most cases, this will happen very slowly you still expect your solar system to have a lifespan of 25 years. By the coastline, galvanic corrosion could potentially cause panels to fail well within 10 years.
Ensuring you have the right installer that knows how to install close to the beach is essential.
Solar Panels And Sea Grime
Solar Corrosion isn’t the only problem solar panels have when installed on the coastline. Have you ever noticed windows on buildings by the beach quickly become covered with a layer of gritty, salty grime.
This grime will also stick to solar panels, at times reducing the output to well under 10 percent. In this case you really only have two options
- regular panel maintenance or
- add additional panels to cover the lost output.
While you can safely add more panels than your inverter’s rating suggests, here at Omega Solar + Batteries we believe the more you look after your system the better return you will get on your investment. You can check out our maintenance services here.
Solar Inverters And Corrosion
Depending on the placement of the solar inverter, it can also suffer from corrosion. Although high quality inverters are more resistant, we recommend ensuring they are covered or well sheltered.
For the investment you make in a quality solar panel system, you really need to ensure you have a level 6 corrosion resistant panel, your system installed by experts who understand what you need to live by sea, and you quality inverter well protected.
This is why we use and recommend the the acclaimed LG NeON® range. Not only is it a tested and certified IEC 61701 rated level 6 panel, it has also won the acclaimed Intersolar Award in Germany, 3 years running. Additionally, LG Solar™ has won the Australian Top Brand award from 2016 to this year 2019.
But don’t take our word for it, click on the video below to see the different beachfront solar systems Omega Solar + Batteries has installed both on the Gold Coast and in the Northern Rivers region.