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Often times cheaper, does not end up being economical. Before we rejoice about the fact that we got something for half the market price, there needs to be a thorough assessment of the quality. We check and read the labels of all the items in the supermarket for their best before date. We also come across a lot of “beware of cheap imitations” boards in the markets. Why should solar rooftop solutions be any different? There are options available in the market that may cost less than the standard price. But do you know that the effective cost of the ownership could end up being much larger than the price of a standard quality rooftop solar panel solution? Here are the things that could go wrong or can be altered to come up with a cheap, low quality panel. The worst part is, by looking at the panel, you cannot tell the difference.

What are the key points that we should be careful about?

1) The Solar cell
The C grade or broken solar cell can be connected by adhesive tape and is very difficult to spot. Even if there is a single broken solar cell in the solar panel that is fixed by tape, it will cause a hot spot. The panel will also generate less power and will deteriorate quickly. It also poses a risk of fire in the panel.

2) Bad quality raw material
The ethyl vinyl acetate (EVA) must be of a good quality as they are the key components that protect the solar cell from humidity, dirt and also act as a cushion to prevent shocks and breakage. If a cheap quality film is used, it reduces cost but in a year or so, the panels will become yellowish or catch humidity.

3) The Back-sheet
Cheap panels only use PE back-sheets as the T(Tedlar composite) is given a miss to save costs, it loses the ultraviolet protection and after a year or two the back-sheet will turn yellow and may even crumble to pieces.

4) The Junction box
Sometimes to save on the costs, the junction box will have glue inside to secure it to the panel and not AI seal. After a year or two in the sunlight, the glue may break and this causes a major problem of not keeping the panel waterproof anymore. Water seepage can render the panel unusable and may even get short circuited due to the moisture.

5) Absence of a Bypass Diode
There may be no diode inside of the junction box, or less capacity diode which may get shorted. Sometimes, if one of the panels goes into a shade, it only acts as a resistance and can severely affect the efficiency of the panel solution. In this case, a bypass diode allows this panel to be bypassed easily till it comes back in the Sun and starts producing power. The diodes also protect the circuits from reverse power flow and getting short circuited. As a layman, we cannot clearly know if there is a diode or not in a panel. Often times, cheaper panels will have a low capacity diode or no diode at all and can result in a very expensive damage control later.

So how does one avoid all these pitfalls?

A good, reliable and authorized vendor will make sure these are addressed appropriately for you. It is also advisable to do some research and get quotes from two or more vendors to get an idea of the comparable prices and then take a call based on the terms and conditions and other criteria that you suit your particular requirement. Install a good quality rooftop solar solution and reap the benefits for the rest of its working life. Go for a cheaper option, compromising on quality and it may end up being more expensive than the good quality one that you did not go for in order to save some money now.

Also Read: Key factors to consider while designing solar rooftop PV system
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