Do Broken or Cracked Solar Cells Still Work?

If you have damaged or broken some of your solar cells or you are trying to build a solar panel on a budget, you may want to consider using broken cells as a part of your panel.

Despite popular belief, although solar cells themselves are extremely fragile and break with the slightest bump or nick, they do still produce the majority of their rated voltage even when they are slightly damaged. The power output of the cell will be affected depending on how much of the cell is damaged although it is not usually more than 10-20% of the cell that is damaged.

As long as the tabs and most of the cell is still in tact, the cell can usually still be used in a panel. Try to take a voltage measurement across the cell tabs with the cells exposed to full sunlight, if the cells are not too badly damaged, they should still produce 85-100% of the rated voltage.

Unfortunately, without the cells connected to a load, it is very difficult to determine how much of the cell’s power has been lost due to the break or crack. It is however ok to assume that the cell’s power output will be reduced by a similar percentage to the area that has been broken off.

The video below demonstrates how a broken cell still produces a comparable voltage to a new cell. The output voltage of both cells is a bit lower than the rated voltage as the measurement was done indoors.

So if the surface area of your solar panel is not a major consideration and you have cheap access to a number of broken solar cells then it may be worth your while to build your next solar panel using broken solar cells.

Have you used broken solar cells to build a solar panel? Let us know your tips and tricks in the comments section below.

Michael Klements
Michael Klements
Hi, my name is Michael and I started this blog in 2016 to share my DIY journey with you. I love tinkering with electronics, making, fixing, and building - I'm always looking for new projects and exciting DIY ideas. If you do too, grab a cup of coffee and settle in, I'm happy to have you here.


  1. I purchased and installed 3 damaged panels at a huge discount, hence their appeal. These are rated at 315 watts/each. And although they are putting out their rated voltage, I’m finding their current is significantly diminished from 9amps to ~3-4 amps. So, in my situation where space for the panels is limited and even with them wired in series to up the amps, I’m questioning my choice as my setup never really fully charges my battery bank. Food for thought.

    • Thanks for your feedback Angelique. If you’re pressed for space then yes it would definitely be more beneficial to make use of newer, higher efficiency panels rather than older or damaged panels. These are really better suited for larger plots, old farm houses or homesteads where space isn’t much of an issue.

  2. I have a solar panel that was hit by a rock and has broken or shattered / spidered glass.
    The panel still works. I brought the panel indoors so as not to get any moisture the panel.
    I am looking to coat the panel with some sort of UV resistant clear epoxy type sealant. What product(s) would you recommend using for this ? For the cost of a new piece of glass I may as well buy a whole new panel.

    • I’m not sure that a clear epoxy or sealant would last being in direct sun for most of the day. I’d suggest maybe covering the main area with a thin sheet of pvc plastic or similar and sealing the edges.

  3. Hello
    I am working to design DC/DC low voltage convertor for energy harvesting.
    I am thinking about to use small part of an old solar panel to have just small voltage ( it means as power supply)
    My convertor circuit need about 0.5 V and the output voltage will be about 5 V
    I wuld like to know if this idea is right and possible or not ?
    If it is possible how i can do it
    I hope that you can helpe me
    I need this inforamation as soon as possible
    With my best regards

  4. I have 4 broken panels of 325w each, all the panels are producing 35-38.5V under sunlight but not producing amps, do you suggest me to dig the panels from backside to check the tabbings.

    • Hi Syed, how old are you panels? Solar cells tend to lose efficiency over time and eventually stop producing meaningful power. Is the panel surface still clear, it hasn’t hazed over or become dirty? I doubt that the tabbing has anything to do with it, the tabbing doesn’t usually come loose over time.

  5. I got damaged solar panels which produce very little amps but high voltage.. Can I use a mppt charge controller to lower the voltage and bring the amps up

    • This probably depends on how high the voltage is and how low the current is. The power being produced is a product of the two, so if your panels are producing only a few milliamps or microamps, then you probably won’t get much usable power out of them regardless of the controller you use.


Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here

Latest posts

Which NVMe Hat Is The Best For A Raspberry Pi 5

If you don’t know already, I’ve been selling these 3D printed cases for Raspberry Pi’s online for a few years now. With the launch...

Track Aircraft In Real-time With Your Raspberry Pi Using The FlightAware Pro

Have you ever seen a flight overhead and wondered where it is going? Or seen a unique-looking aircraft and wondered what type or model...

Pi 5 Desktop Case For NVMe Base or HatDrive! Bottom

Today we're going to be assembling a 3D-printed case for the Raspberry Pi 5 and Pimoroni's NVMe Base or Pineberry's HatDrive! This is an...

Related posts