If you live by the ocean, the air around you contains high levels of salt. You may be wondering whether a high-salt environment could cause damage to your solar energy system. When comparing your options for solar, it is important to know how well your solar panels will hold up if you live in an area where environmental factors like salty air and water are present. In this article, we will look at how salty air and water can damage or generally impact outdoor electronics and metals, and if solar panels are at risk for damage.
Solar panels and salt
Living in a high-salt environment means that your solar installation will have to operate under slightly different conditions than a typical solar energy system. The two effects of a salty environment you should be aware of are corrosion and efficiency loss.
Many metals will rust over time just by being around water or in the open air, but the presence of salt can accelerate the corrosion process. Salt reacts with water to form a slightly acidic solution, which can cause corrosion or rusting at a faster pace than water alone. This means that if you live near the ocean, your outdoor electronics and metal equipment may be at risk for accelerated corrosion. For solar panels this could mean being at risk for rusty racking systems or wiring, or even rust on the solar cells themselves.
Fortunately, solar panels are highly corrosion-resistant. Solar modules themselves are vacuum-sealed between their back sheet and interior materials, which will prevent interior corrosion due to salt. This means that unless there is a crack in your panels, you have nothing to worry about when it comes to your solar modules corroding.
Additionally, reputable solar panel manufacturers will test their solar panels to ensure that they pass a test known as the IEC 61701 Salt Mist Corrosion Test. Panels that have received this certification have gone through rigorous testing that simulates the effects of salt mist and harsh coastal weather.
The materials your solar panels are housed in are also designed to be highly resistant to corrosion, even in salty conditions. Solar module frames are almost all made from anodized aluminum, a highly corrosion-resistant metal for salty conditions. Solar racking systems installed on properties near the ocean will also likely be made from anodized aluminum. If you have any reservations or concerns about the materials being used in your solar installation, it is always a good idea to ask your installer what they are using to make sure your installation is salt-resistant.
Salt can also impact solar panel health and production without damaging the metal parts of your solar energy system. Over time, salt can settle out of the air onto your panels, reducing their efficiency. To combat any potential loss of power output from salt deposits, you may want to clean your solar panels occasionally. Rain will naturally clean your panels off as well.
Check your panel warranty
As mentioned before, many panels from reputable manufacturers will be IEC 61701 certified, indicating that they can withstand the effects of salt mist. Even your solar panels have this certification, it’s a good idea to double check the warranty. Some panel manufacturers (especially those without IEC 61701 certification) will not provide the same level of protection for panel modules installed on coastal properties because of the added risk of corrosion and efficiency loss.
Before purchasing a solar panel system, take a look at the proposed panel manufacturer’s warranty agreement to ensure that you’re still covered. Your solar installer should be able to recommend panels that have IEC 61701 certification and a full warranty coverage, regardless of how close your home or business is to the water.
Get solar quotes from reputable installers near you
If you live by the ocean, solar panels are still a great investment and will withstand the effects of the salty ocean air. Comparing multiple options for solar quotes is essential to getting the best deal on solar, and the easiest way to connect with solar companies near you is through the EnergySage Solar Marketplace, where you can solicit quotes from qualified, pre-vetted solar installers. If you have any questions about the types of materials installers use to make their products resistant to salt damage, simply leave a note in your profile with your concern.