Poor Quality PV Panels

arcandsparkarcandspark Solar Expert Posts: 63 ✭✭✭✭
I have just finished installing solar panels for my friend. He had purchased Photo Watt PW1000 panels from another person who had sold him the panels so this person could be able to get a Photo Watt dealership. The panels were purchased back in 2001 and have been sitting in their boxes up to last couple weeks. I understand that Photo Watt is now a company called Matrix. As I was installing the panels I would test each one on the ground before putting it up on the roof. I found eight bad panels out of ten. They had no output or low output. What I found was there are four diode in the junction box. These panels can be wired as 12 volt or 24 volt panels. I found that the diodes had been connected to lugs but many of them had not been completely soldered or had not solder on them at all. The solder had a lot of flux chuncks on the joints. I cleaned them and resoldered all the soldered connections and also the ones that had not solder at all. This seemed to have fixed the panels output power problem. But I also noticed that the solded connections that were on the lead coming off the solar cells inside the junction box were corrodied and I had to resolder a few of those to get those panels to work right. Personally I feel the manufacture used bad solder for during manufacturing. Another problem I was finding was that the plastic covers for the junction boxes were damaged. Many of the covers had cracked hinges and the plastice seemed to fall apart when you would loosen the cover screws. These Photo Watt PV panels were some of the poorest quality panels I have ever worked with. Goes to show you, that you get what you pay for. Here is a real good tip, always test the panels on the ground and open the boxes on new panels and do a real good inspection. They dont make these panels anymore so I can not add to this system without changing the panel size which will require major modification to the PV frame assembly. Just passing on my quality issues to others that might be in the market for some PV panels. (arcandspark)


  • mike95490mike95490 Solar Expert Posts: 9,459 ✭✭✭✭✭
    Re: Poor Quality PV Panels
    Personally I feel the manufacture used bad solder for during manufacturing.

    Likely lead free solder. That stuff does not wet (tin) well. It's awfully hard to beat 63/37 with rosin flux. (hmmmm 2001 - that was before the lead phase out of solder, maybe you got some of that no-wash water based flux goodness.)
    Powerfab top of pole PV mount | Listeroid 6/1 w/st5 gen head | XW6048 inverter/chgr | Iota 48V/15A charger | Morningstar 60A MPPT | 48V, 800A NiFe Battery (in series)| 15, Evergreen 205w "12V" PV array on pole | Midnight ePanel | Grundfos 10 SO5-9 with 3 wire Franklin Electric motor (1/2hp 240V 1ph ) on a timer for 3 hr noontime run - Runs off PV ||
    || Midnight Classic 200 | 10, Evergreen 200w in a 160VOC array ||
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