Have you decided to change to solar as a source of renewable energy? Great choice!
When searching for the best solar panels, people often focus on volts, wattage, and efficiency. A factor that regularly gets overlooked is the type of glass used.
Glass offers protection to the photovoltaic cells against the elements and other external factors.
This post focuses on the best type of glass for your home DIY solar panels to get the most life and efficiency out of the solar cells.
Let’s dive straight in!
Why glass is a very important part of DIY solar panels?
Glass is the first and only line of defense that the photovoltaic cells have against outside elements. These may include strong winds, snow, dirt, and rain. It could also include debris and falling branches.
Glass also allows light to pass through, ensuring that the photovoltaic cells perform at top efficiency.
The best glass for your DIY solar panels should thus be strong and sturdy while also being clear for maximum light penetration.
Tempered glass is the preferred choice for solar panels due to a variety of reasons. It is tough, hard to break, and can withstand the elements.
Cheap glass can scratch easily and cloud with time. This can drastically bring down the efficiency and output of your solar panels.
Cheap glass can also break easily. This not only causes a safety hazard but will also damage the solar cells underneath. Not to mention that water and moisture could also get into the solar panels and damage the cells.
What to consider when buying glass for DIY solar panels?
Factors and properties to check in the glass to use in your home DIY solar panels are:
Thermal shock resistance
Thermal shock resistance is the ability of the glass to withstand sudden temperature changes. Solar panels are often set outside and exposed to different weather elements.
The weather outside can change quickly from warm to cold temperatures.
The glass you choose for your home DIY solar panels should have high thermal shock resistance. This will prevent it from cracking when there is a sudden temperature change. For instance, if there is a sudden gust of wind after a hot day.
A low thermal shock resistance translates to low durability, and your solar panels will not last the seasons.
This refers to the ability of the glass to withstand physical stress. It should be strong and not break easily.
The weak glass will not withstand debris such as falling branches. If you live in an area prone to hailstorms, then this can easily damage the glass and the solar panel.
Weak glass with low mechanical strength also means that the solar panel can easily get damaged during handling or installation.
Tensile strength is the ability of a material to resists forces that try to pull it apart.
Note that tensile strength and mechanical strength are different. Mechanical strength is the ability to resist breakage, while tensile strength can resist being pulled apart.
However, often, tensile strength and mechanical strength will go hand in hand when choosing the best type of glass for your DIY solar panel.
While there are very few factors that would pull the glass apart, tensile strength is important in determining how resistant it is to breakage and external damage.
Bending strength is the ability of a material to resist breakage when forced to bend. Go for glass with a high bending or flexural strength.
This will contribute to its durability and ensure that your solar cells are protected from any breaks caused by bending. Note that some solar cells are highly brittle and can break easily.
Surface compression strength
Surface compression strength refers to the ability of the glass to withstand the force exerted onto the surface of the glass.
A high surface compression strength means that the glass tough to break. This also means that solar cells are well protected from external forces.
A high surface compression strength will also translate to a more durable solar panel.
Cheap glass can crack and lose clarity over time as a result of damage from UV rays.
Always consider the UV resistance of the glass that you choose for your solar panels. UV resistant glass will also protect the solar cells underneath from degradation due to the UV rays.
Several things can cause scratches to glass, including hailstones, dirt, and debris. Scratches will limit the amount of light reaching the solar cells. This makes the solar panel less efficient, causing the overall electricity output to drop.
This is why you want to choose a glass that is tough and scratch-resistant. Remaining clear will ensure that the output from the solar cells remains at an optimum level.
Best glass for solar panels
Normal glass is not ideal for solar panels. The panels will be left outside over different weather conditions.
The best glass for solar panels is tempered glass. While it does come with some distortion, it is tough and durable.
We spent hours researching the different brands of glass available in the market. We tested different properties, including tensile strength and compressive strength. We narrowed down our search to two of the best glass you can find for your home DIT solar panel project.
TroySys High Strength Tempered Glass
The TroySys High Strength Tempered Glass is clear with minimal light distortion. This ensures that maximum light reaches the solar cells.
It also has a polished surface making it scratch resistant. You don’t have to worry about losing efficiency in the long run.
The toughened build makes this very hard to break or crack glass. It is thus suitable for the outdoors and will survive the elements for many years into the future.
The polished edges allow for easy handling.
You can get the TroySys High Strength Tempered Glass in a variety of sizes that range from 12 inches to 12 inches to 60 i9nches.
- Toughened to withstand the elements
- It comes in a variety of sizes and thicknesses
- Polished anti-scratch surface
- Polished edges
- Has some distortion
Tempered laminated glass from Sun Global Glass
As you can already tell from the name, this toughened tempered glass is laminated to provide extra protection from scratches.
You can get this tempered laminated glass in a variety of colors, from light green to deep blue. However, since it is for the home DIY solar panel build, you want to choose the clear variety.
You can also get this tempered glass in various thicknesses. Generally, the larger your home DIY solar panel, the more thickness you should opt for. It is much harder to break a thicker, larger glass panel than a thinner yet bigger glass panel.
This glass comes in 3+3 mm, 4+4mm, 5+5mm, and 6+6mm.
The glass also comes with polished edges, which makes it safer to handle.
One of the major features that we loved about the tempered laminated glass from Sun Global is that it has very minimal light distortion.
This means that it allows maximum light penetration, which keeps your solar cells’ efficiency at an optimum level.
On the downside, however, you may need to comply with the company’s minimum order requirements.
- Tough glass protects solar cells from external objects and breaks
- It comes in a variety of thicknesses
- Polished edges allow for safe handling
- Can withstand the elements
- The company may have minimum order requirements
The best glass for solar panels needs to provide protection to the solar cells from dirt, debris, and the elements.
It also needs to be strong and durable to prevent breakage. Finally, it needs to maintain clarity to ensure that the solar panels maintain efficiency. Tempered glass is your best bet when it comes to choosing glass for your home DIY solar panels.