This is a bit of an aside on why I am of the opinion that solar panels should be completely sealed against
the elements, as opposed to leaving them vented to the outside to prevent condensation from forming on
The problem I see with this is that if vents of any sort are provided, they will allow moisture in,
and solar cells such as these are not made to survive prolonged exposure to water. This page shows what
happened to my first prototype panel after I left it spend over a year outside. Its seals had failed in
too many places to count, due to cracking from various stresses. Its cells received considerable exposure
to the elements, most notably moisture.
The second reason I see for wanting to seal homemade panels is that professionally made panels are sealed.
Doing so introduces considerable expense to the process, and if it were not necessary, it would not be done.
This leads me to believe that it must be a necessary step.
Warning, this page contains graphic depictions of badly distressed solar panels. Do not continue if
you are easily offended by material of this nature.
Here it is, my "Mark I" Solar Panel, in all its hideous glory.
The upper left cell. This one shows discoloration near the bottom around the leads.
Lots of ugliness here. Severe discoloration. Contact wires and power leads are peeling off.
This one only has a few peeling traces at the upper left, and slight discoloration elsewhere.
The bottom right cell, the one that broke during the hailstorm simulation. It fared
quite poorly. The traces have peeled off everywhere, including beneath the leads.
There it is, evidence of why solar panels should be completely sealed. This one was vented, though not
ideally. It's "venting" probably served to trap moisture more than let any out. If anything,
it was an experiment in rapid aging. In any case, it is my opinion that a solar panel, vented to the
outside world, will expose its delicate cells to an environment for which they were not designed to survive.
Sometime in the coming months I hope to add another page here detailing my "Mark II" panel.
Here's a small writeup:
I initially tried Devcon's Metal Welder, but it was still not flexible enough. Small holes appeared,
allowing moisture to get in. It currently is using a rather copious amount of Goop contact adhesive
around all joints, as well as some GE SiliconeII chaulk over top of that. Together, they should provide
not only sufficient adhesion, but also good flexibility in order to allow the panel to survive repeated
flexing from thermal stress. As a bonus, they are far cheaper and easier to obtain than the Metal Welder.