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.

4 Replies to “Do Broken or Cracked Solar Cells Still Work?”

  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.

    1. 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.

    1. 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.

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