Broken Solar Panel Glass Repair (Simple)

About: I'm a curious creator, fascinated by the combination of 3D printing and electronics.

Hey Guys, just a quick and easy tutorial today! So recently I picked up these two 100W solar panels for under $100 because one of the panels glass was shattered. At first i believed I could just remove the smashed glass and replace it however after more research I discovered the solar cells and attached to the glass so removal is not an option.

There are a lot of videos and tutorials with different fixes but this was the simplest most effective and longest lasting fix, with no loss is quality of the panels.

Step 1: What You Need

All you need is

  1. Polyurethane, any type should do just ensure its water and weatherproof. I used Norglass, it was cheap and properties suited my needs. Also many resins will work too, but double check they are waterproof and wont fade in direct sunlight!
  2. Something to mix in
  3. Something to push the resin around the panel, I just used a scrapper from an old builders bog container.

Step 2: Applying the Resin

This process is super simple but here are the steps to follow.

  1. Level out the panel using a level (so the resin doesn't flow to one spot)
  2. Clean off the panel, just make sure its nice and clean for best results.
  3. Mix your resin following instructions on the can (three quarters of a margarine container covered my whole panel easily)
  4. Pour most of the resin around the panel but save a small amount.
  5. Push the resin around the panel to ensure the whole panel is covered evenly.
  6. Wait a few minutes for the resin to make its way into the cracks then using the leftover resin top up and low spots
  7. Leave to dry.
  8. Add more resin if needed.

Step 3: Results

So in the first image is the specifications of each panel, the next two are the the measured results of the panel after the repair. As you can see there is almost zero loss from the repair.

Step 4: Wrap Up

Hopefully this helps some of you guys out and is less complicated than some other explanations out there! As always leave any questions you may have and I'll try answer them to the best of my ability!

Also please chuck me a follow to stay informed on my instructables, I have a few exciting projects in the works at the moment not far away!

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    14 Discussions

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    Steinzel

    5 days ago

    Nice! I have one panel with shattered glass. I'm going to try this out! Might be just the thing I need!
    Thanks!

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    jtechian

    Question 6 days ago

    Glad you were able to salvage your panels. Was your glass all still intact, or was bits missing? Why I ask is epoxy type resin does not expand and contract well without cracking and these panels get quite hot when working in full sunlight. How long have you had them in operation since repair and have you noticed any new cracks ? I have also learned that you cant use had setting resin to mount solar cells embedded in, as they will crack due to heat expansion, which is why they use soft flexible silicone resin that will allow expansion with the cells. I think its called Cell Guard which may work to seal the glass also.Thanks

    1 more answer
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    Cam647jtechian

    Answer 6 days ago

    Hey, so firstly the glass was fairly crack but no large bits of glass missing so the expanding and contracting will never be a but issue but if glass was missing in large sections I agree!

    The polyurethane I used drys almost like a silcon however, another great quality of it so hopefully this kind of issue shouldn't occur.

    Have used these panels in the heat multiple times with no signs of failure yet. Thanks for the question hopefully it helps people out!

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    kmpres

    6 days ago

    So this is some kind of two-part polyurethane is it? The stuff available in the country where I live is simply called urethane, is one-part, has no odor and looks like skim milk though it is a tad thicker. It works well, though. I just finished a new lab table with four coats of the stuff. Each coat dried in ten minutes and left a beautiful shine with minimal sanding between coats. I love it - will throw out all my old cans of varnish and use this from now on. Is that the same stuff as yours or is yours something more like epoxy?

    2 replies
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    XTLkmpres

    Reply 6 days ago

    The skim milk looking stuff is probbaly a water based polyurethane. It might not be as good as non-water based ones because it might not be as clear. However make sure the poly is UV resistant and will dry clear and not yellow. Then it should be OK.

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    Cam647kmpres

    Reply 6 days ago

    The one I have used is more of an epoxy however like you say lots come in the varnish like form. I've not tried this on panels or really ever used it but as long as its weather resistant and fills the cracks I cannot see why that wouldn't be a viable option!

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    Cam647djohnson0922

    Answer 6 days ago

    Exactly the same roughly! Me being silly I forgot to take picture before, ughh dumb. But they read almost identical before and after.

    However after the resin was on the panel I was reading the full 200w of the panels so there was no loss!

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    SylvanB

    6 days ago

    Nice writeup. I'm going to have to try this on a panel with shattered glass.

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    tytower

    12 days ago

    Good stuff , I would not have thought of doing that . So the panels are glued to the glass on the inside? Didn't know that

    2 replies
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    SylvanBtytower

    Reply 6 days ago

    usually they are encapsulated between glass and a plastic backing using a silicone resin to prevent moisture from entering, and assembled using a vacuum to pull out any bubbles of air / moisture before that resin cures. (any moisture will eventually corrode the metallic traces on the cells)

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    Cam647tytower

    Reply 11 days ago

    They sure are, not sure the reasoning behind it just means glass replacement is almost impossible... but doing this I picked up some really cheap panels so it's great for me!

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    wpc

    11 days ago

    Isn't the polyurethane going to eventually yellow and your entire panel will be cloudy like old car headlights?

    1 reply
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    Cam647wpc

    Reply 11 days ago

    This type of polyurethane is not ment to, I have used it a few times and not noticed any type of cloudiness. These panels are portable and not constantly left in direct sun maybe if they were a more expensive resin would be a good option!