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relacing a broken panel myself?

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  • relacing a broken panel myself?

    I have a 5.5 kw system with SolarWorld panels and a SolarEdge inverter. One of my panels is smashed, most likely from a rock. Even after the rainy winter, it's still operating at a reduced capacity (roughly down 20% from the others). I'm debating if replacing the panel is worth the money, since I'm barely losing any power generation.

    Two questions--my dealer is warning me that the damaged panel could eventually damage the system as the other panels try to adjust for output of the damaged panel. Is this real, or BS?

    Next, how hard would it be for me to buy and replace this panel myself? I'm no electrician, but I'm pretty handy, and the panel is easily accessible. Is it just a matter of shutting down the power, unscrewing and unwiring the bad panel and reversing the process for the new one? Or does it require making changes to the inverter?

  • #2
    With a SolarEdge system, it is very unlikely a bad panel would be able to hurt the others. Each panel connects to its own optimizer, somewhat isolating the panels from each other. Replacing it is relatively simple, although you might want to track down an MC4 tool to help disconnect the panel from its optimizer. For extra safety, work at night, or with cardboard over the panel.
    CS6P-260P/SE3000 - http://tiny.cc/ed5ozx

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    • #3
      thanks. What's the reason for working in the dark or with the panel covered? Risk of shock?

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      • #4
        Exactly. During daylight, or uncovered, even a damaged panel is doing what it is designed to do...produce electricity, albeit at a low (12 or 24 volts).

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        • #5
          A system your size is probably generating hundreds of volts, and a lot of current. Trying to cover the panels (can
          you really cover them all?) may reduce the available current, but the full voltage will still be there even from some
          light on the backside. Without full understanding and some experience, the only safe way (for you AND the
          equipment) is at night. Do DC disconnect from the inverter, both lines is best.

          A lot of work has been done at night here. Bruce Roe

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          • #6
            In a SolarEdge system, with the inverter off or the AC disconnected, the optimizers will drop their output to 1 V. The conductors on the input side of the optimizer will be at the panel Voc, probably something between 35 and 48 V, depending on the specific panel you have. Much safer than the string array that bruce is describing, but covering the panel isn't hard, and if you have broken glass up there, it might be a good idea to keep the mess contained as you move it.
            CS6P-260P/SE3000 - http://tiny.cc/ed5ozx

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            • #7
              Your biggest risk is falling off the roof. Get a harness and make sure its tied off. Panels are unwieldy and its easy to loose your balance. Be glad you can still buy the panel, frequently they are out of production by the time you need one. With cheap panel prices, it may be worth buying a spare an stashing it away for some point down the road.

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              • #8
                If you have optimizers it does change the picture, but I would not bet my life on them working the way you want. Bruce

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