covering solar panels

When installing my panels do I need to cover them with cardboard or something untill they are connected. Its my understanding that when they are exposed to sunlight, they start producing power. At best it would mean I'm working with live wires, at worst, and this is the part Im unsure of, would it overload , feedback or otherwise harm the panels, if the power has nowhere to go?
Do the panels perhaps come covered?

Comments

  • john pjohn p Solar Expert Posts: 814 ✭✭✭
    Re: covering solar panels

    no harm will come to the panels if not connected to anything. it really no different to a battery not connected to anything.. But if you have them connected in series and you have voltage above 48v be careful you not get an electric shock from them.my suggestion is cover them with something like a big tarp ar old blankets while you connecting them or wait until no sun then connect them.. I dont know what they do in very large solar arrays so you are not touching high voltages..

    mabe others have other suggestions.
  • mike95490mike95490 Solar Expert Posts: 8,820 ✭✭✭✭✭
    Re: covering solar panels

    You can work with un-covered panels, as long as:

    They have the shrouded MC connectors that keep your fingers away from the contacts
    and
    When you make the final connections, the switch/circuit breaker is OPEN, so you get no current flow. Otherwise, you could arc-weld the MC connector together. Once the connections are fixed, you can switch on the power. Or you can make the final connection at sunset/dusk, where the roof is dry (unlike dawn) and the panels are "shaded".

    You will have lots of cardboard from the panel packing too, you can use that if you want.
    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 ||
    || VEC1093 12V Charger | Maha C401 aa/aaa Charger | SureSine | Sunsaver MPPT 15A

    solar: http://tinyurl.com/LMR-Solar
    gen: http://tinyurl.com/LMR-Lister ,

  • nielniel Solar Expert Posts: 10,300 ✭✭✭✭
    Re: covering solar panels

    it doesn't hurt to cover them, but as was said it is not a necessity if you take precautions.
  • BB.BB. Super Moderators, Administrators Posts: 30,642 admin
    Re: covering solar panels

    The real fun (for the home do-it-yourselfer) is when you have to break/make the connections from the pole transformer (120/240 VAC and 10,000 amps).

    There is no "off switch". You do it yourself or pay somebody else. Heavy rubber gloves (that are regularly tested and certified for electrical safety) inside heavy leather gloves.

    Kind of make a few tens of amps at 300 volts DC look pretty tame. I would not bother trying to cover my panels (disconnect load first before making / breaking panel connections).

    For the professional with the experience and tools--no big deal.

    -Bill
    Near San Francisco California: 3.5kWatt Grid Tied Solar power system+small backup genset
  • dwhdwh Solar Expert Posts: 1,341 ✭✭✭
    Re: covering solar panels
    BB. wrote: »
    For the professional with the experience and tools--no big deal.


    Ah...I've done the disconnect/re-connect from a utility feed (both overhead and underground) well over 100 times (half disconnects, half re-connects - I've done something like 60-70 service installs/upgrades)...

    Even for a pro it's *always* a big deal. It doesn't get less scary the more you do it. Every single time I've done it I would say the pucker-factor was a 5 or better, with a couple of "these go all the way to eleven" as well.

    There have been a few that were so dicey that as soon as I finished I packed it in for the day and went and got myself a beer to take the edge off the massive dose of adrenaline.


    Generally, even when working with a utility feed - except in the case of working with my hands in a metal box or working in a basement surrounded by concrete - I never wore rubber gloves - if you're careful you usually don't need them, and if you're not careful then they won't save you when you screw up royally.

    For the truly scary times I did have a set of lineman's rubber sleeves and gloves as well as some pieces (cut in various sizes) of the thick rubber used in in the floor of horse stables:

    http://www.farmtek.com/farm/supplies/prod1;ft1_equine_supplies-ft1_equine_flooring_wall;pg108730.html

    That stable flooring stuff is heavy as sin (4'x6' size in that link above...53 lbs) and one of the most comforting things any electrician can own. In a concrete hole I could even punch some redheads into the wall and bolt the rubber mat to it if the wall was too close for comfort.
  • BB.BB. Super Moderators, Administrators Posts: 30,642 admin
    Re: covering solar panels

    Then I don't feel so bad the few times I did a disconnect / reconnect and felt like I was on 20 cups of coffee at the time. :roll:

    Being careful--addressing one joint at a time (the others out of the way and/or some sort of temporary insulation) goes a long way towards safety.

    Best recommendation--if you don't know what you are doing--get "professional" help; before you need "professional" help. ;)

    -Bill
    Near San Francisco California: 3.5kWatt Grid Tied Solar power system+small backup genset
  • tallgirltallgirl Solar Expert Posts: 413 ✭✭
    Re: covering solar panels
    BB. wrote: »
    Then I don't feel so bad the few times I did a disconnect / reconnect and felt like I was on 20 cups of coffee at the time. :roll:

    Patience. Deep breathing.

    If you're that on edge, stop. Adrenalin is the brain's way of telling you that you're doing something you know you might be doing wrong. Double check all your gear and connections. Then, when you know everything is being done safely and properly, you should be a lot calmer and a lot less likely to have the shakes and do something stupid, like get killed.
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