The Importance of Panel Durability – Vital Role of the Backsheet

Solar Panel Durability

Each component of a solar panel is relevant to performance: cells, glass, encapsulant, edge seal, frame, junction box, connectors, and backsheets.  Not only does CivicSolar recognize that each type of component is important - for instance, silicone sealants are more durable than double sided edge tape - but the manufacturer of each component should also be reputable in order to ensure panel reliability for a minimum of 25 years.

Backsheets are a less-visible component of solar panels but essential to their long-term performance. Backsheets protect solar panels against environmental damage and ensure that panels remain electrically insulated. Backsheet failure can result in power loss and safety issues, and the impact can be significant, ranging from power degradation and reputational damage to outright bodily harm. CivicSolar only offers Tier 1 (verified by leading 3rd party reports from Navigant Research and BNEF) panel manufacturers such as JinkoSolar because these companies are vertically integrated, invest heavily in R&D, have advanced robotic processes, and have been in business longer than 5 years. These top 2% of manufacturers also tend to use the most premium materials in their panels. JinkoSolar and DuPont Photovoltaic Solutions - the latter a 215-year-old American leading materials company- have signed a strategic agreement to incorporate UV-blocking DuPont TM Tedlar® materials into JinkoSolar panels. JinkoSolar is the only Tier 1 solar panel manufacturer that uses DuPont Tedlar® film in 100% of its panels.

When choosing what solar panels to use for your next project, CivicSolar suggests that you check for the type of backsheet being used, as not all panels are created equal.

Not all backsheet materials perform well over time. In fact, DuPont TM research has shown that of panels with at least two years of field exposure, more than 40% exhibited some degree of backsheet degradation. Degradation in and of itself does not necessarily mean power failure, but it does increase the risk that panels will fail at some point over the next several years. To minimize your risk, it is better to avoid panels that use backsheets made with non-UV resistant polyvinylidene difluoride (PVDF) film. In the course of DuPont’s field investigations in Europe, DuPont TM found that 60% of all PVDF-based backsheets showed considerable yellowing of the inner layer which proved to be very brittle when the panels were further analyzed. Of the oldest solar plants still in operation around the world, some of them greater than 30 years old, those with UV-blocking PVF-based backsheets are still performing well and exhibiting less than 1% power degradation year-on-year.

In separate studies, panels containing backsheets manufactured by DuPont TM Tedlar® PVF showed lower power loss and less variability than panels using either glass or polyethylene terephthalate (PET) based backsheets. In fact, Tedlar® PVF film-based backsheets are the only backsheets with more than 30 years of field-proven performance. Other backsheets currently on the market have as little as three to six years of operating history. Solar panels endure some of nature’s harshest environmental conditions. As a solar panel installer, it is critical that you select panels made with components that are capable of withstanding those stresses.

Whatever your solar equipment needs, you can count on CivicSolar to deliver quality tested products that you can use with confidence for solar installations of any size. To learn more about what makes a durable solar panel and why we choose the manufacturing partners we do, talk to your account manager today.