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Key Insights from the 2024 PVEL Solar Panel Reliability Test Results

Updated: Jul 9

solar panel tests

The increasing prevalence of extreme weather events across the country is a significant concern for the solar energy industry. From hurricanes and floods to intense heat waves and snowstorms, these events are becoming more frequent and severe, highlighting the need for reliable, durable solar panels that can withstand such conditions and continue to perform optimally.


At GreenLancer, we have over a decade of experience in the solar industry and understand the importance of using high-quality equipment in solar installations. The recently released 2024 PVEL PV Module Reliability Scorecard is one key resource for solar panel tests. 


This comprehensive report published by PV Evolution Labs (PVEL) provides invaluable insights into the performance and durability of various photovoltaic (PV) solar modules under various stress tests. Leveraging the findings of the PVEL scorecard allows solar installers, designers, and developers to make informed decisions about the best solar panels to use in projects, promoting both longevity and reliable renewable energy generation for your clients.


Overview of the 2024 PVEL PV Module Reliability Scorecard

PV Evolution Labs (PVEL) plays a pivotal role in the solar industry by conducting rigorous testing on solar panels to assess their reliability and performance. PVEL’s independent testing is recognized globally and is a benchmark for quality and durability in the solar market.


The 2024 PVEL PV Module Reliability Scorecard is based on a series of stringent tests designed to simulate the harshest conditions solar panels might face. These tests include thermal cycling, damp heat, mechanical load, and hail resistance. By subjecting PV modules to these conditions, PVEL evaluates their ability to maintain performance and integrity over time.


Key findings from the 2024 scorecard highlight the top-performing modules that have demonstrated exceptional reliability and durability. This year’s report showcases a range of manufacturers and models that have excelled in PVEL’s rigorous solar panel testing protocols. Referring to the scorecard helps identify which panels are best suited for projects, especially in regions prone to extreme weather.


"As you can see from this visualization of the key metrics below, it is a tight race, and 2024 was a big year for gains in every performance metric category," explains Randy Chabot, Customer Support Leader for GreenLancer.


solar panel performance metrics

Summary of 2024 Solar Panel Testing Gains

  • Overall Performance: Significant improvements in thermal cycling and LID + LETID tests, indicating enhanced durability and reliability.

  • Reduction in Failures: Decrease in failure rates for mechanical stress and PID tests, contributing to better long-term performance.

  • Technological Advancements: Continued improvements in energy yield and degradation rates, showcasing advancements in PV module technologies.


The 2024 PVEL PV Module Reliability Scorecard demonstrates notable gains in PV module performance and reliability compared to 2023. These improvements are critical for ensuring the longevity and efficiency of solar installations, especially in extreme weather conditions.


Impact of Extreme Weather on Solar Panel Performance

In recent years, there has been a surge in extreme weather events that can significantly impact solar installations. Hurricanes, with their high winds and heavy rains, can cause physical damage to solar panels and mounting structures. Heatwaves can lead to thermal stress, while snowstorms can add substantial weight and stress to panels.


Durable and reliable modules free of solar panel defects are crucial for withstanding these harsh weather conditions. Panels that fail under extreme weather incur replacement costs, cause system downtime, and reduce renewable energy production, affecting the bottom line and customer satisfaction.


For instance, during Hurricane Ida in 2021, several installations experienced panel detachments and micro-cracks due to intense winds and debris. Conversely, solar arrays with high-reliability panels from the PVEL scorecard sustained minimal damage and operated efficiently post-storm. Such examples illustrate the importance of choosing robust solar panels tested for extreme conditions.


Incorporating insights from the PVEL PV Module Reliability Scorecard ensures installations are equipped with the most reliable photovoltaic panels available, offering peace of mind and sustained performance to your clients, regardless of the weather challenges they may face. 


“Trina Solar has been making incredible strides in its reliability and performance,” says Chabot. “Their panels rate among the highest in nearly every test. Given the results, they are my top pick for extreme weather situations and overall.” In particular, these panels showed strong resistance to damp heat, mechanical stress, thermal cycling, and hail.  


5 Key Insights from the PVEL Solar Panel Scorecard

The 2024 PVEL PV Module Reliability Scorecard comprehensively evaluates solar panels, highlighting the top performers and their resilience in adverse conditions. This information is invaluable for making informed decisions about the best solar panels to deploy in various projects, particularly in regions prone to extreme weather.


1 - Detailed Analysis of Top-Performing PV Panels

The 2024 PVEL Scorecard identifies several top-performing solar panels that have demonstrated exceptional reliability and durability. These panels excelled in various stress tests designed to mimic real-world conditions, ensuring they could withstand the challenges posed by extreme weather events. This means you can get accurate test data for most of the leading solar panels on the market. 


Among the top performers, specific models stood out for their superior performance in multiple categories. For instance, panels from manufacturers such as LONGi Solar, JA Solar, and Trina Solar consistently ranked high across several tests. These panels showed excellent electrical performance and maintained structural integrity under significant stress, making them ideal for deployment in harsh environments.


2 - Insights into Specific Solar Module Tests 

The PVEL Scorecard encompasses a diverse range of tests meticulously designed to evaluate the resilience of solar panels to extreme weather conditions, enabling you to make strategic procurement decisions tailored to the specific climate of your installs.


1 - Thermal Cycling (TC)

This test evaluates a panel's capacity to withstand rapid temperature fluctuations, replicating the environmental conditions panels may encounter over extended periods. Thermal Cycling 600 (TC600) testing involves subjecting the PV modules to 600 thermal cycles to assess their durability and reliability under temperature variations.


If you are a solar contractor, designer, or developer operating in regions with extreme temperature variations, such as desert climates, refer to this data to select panels that demonstrate resilience to thermal stress, minimizing the risk of micro-cracks or solder joint failures.


2023 and 2024 Thermal Cycling Comparison


2023:

  • 84% of solar modules tested degraded by <2% after TC600.

  • Median degradation was 1.0%.

  • 12% of PV panels experienced failures (e.g., failed diodes, melted connectors)​​. 2024:

  • 84% of modules tested degraded by <2% after TC600.

  • Median degradation improved to 0.8%.

  • Failures were slightly reduced to 11%​.


Improvement: The median degradation rate has improved, indicating better resilience of PV modules to major temperature fluctuations.


solar panel durability

2 - Damp Heat (DH)

Exposed to prolonged exposure to high humidity and elevated temperatures, panels undergo rigorous testing simulating tropical or coastal climates. The damp heat test for the PVEL Scorecard subjects modules to prolonged exposure to high temperatures of 185°F (85°C) and high humidity (85%) for 1,000 hours to evaluate their resistance to extreme environmental conditions.


If installing solar systems in hot and humid regions, you can leverage this information to identify PV modules with exceptional resistance to moisture ingress and potential-induced degradation (PID), ensuring sustained efficiency and reliability even in challenging environmental conditions.


2023 and 2024 Damp Heat Comparison


2023:

  • 72% of PV modules exhibited <2% degradation.

  • Median degradation for glass/glass was 1.0%, while glass/backsheet was 1.9%.

  • DH-related power loss failures dropped to zero from 4% in 2022​. 2024:

  • 69% of solar panels exhibited <2% degradation.

  • Median degradation for glass/glass slightly increased to 1.6%.

  • Failures remained low at 11%​​.


Little Change: While the percentage of modules with <2% degradation slightly decreased, the failure rate remained low, maintaining overall reliability.


solar module testing

3 - Mechanical Stress Sequence (MSS)

The mechanical stress sequence test subjects PV modules to a rigorous series of mechanical stresses to simulate real-world conditions such as wind, snow loads, and thermal cycling. This comprehensive test includes a combination of static mechanical loading, dynamic mechanical loading, and thermal cycling to evaluate the durability and resilience of PV modules under various mechanical stresses they might encounter throughout their lifespan.


This information can help identify PV modules that demonstrate exceptional structural integrity and long-term reliability under mechanical stress if solar systems are installed in regions prone to high winds, heavy snow, or significant temperature fluctuations.


2023 and 2024 Mechanical Stress Sequence Comparison


2023:

  • Lowest average and median MSS degradation rates in PVEL’s history.

  • Glass/glass modules had lower average and median power loss compared to glass/backsheet.

  • The best results were observed with traditional two-rail mounting systems​. 2024:

  • 95% of solar energy panels had <2% power loss.

  • Failures reduced to 7%​​.


Improvement: Significant reduction in failure rates, indicating better durability under mechanical stress.


4 - Hail Resistance Sequence (HSS)

By subjecting panels to high-velocity impacts from ice balls, this test assesses their resilience to hailstorms. The test subjects them to repeated hail impact simulations, ensuring they can withstand severe weather conditions without significant damage.


Solar installers operating in regions frequently affected by hailstorms can make procurement decisions by selecting PV modules that pass this test, ensuring enhanced durability and minimizing damage from hail impacts.


2023 and 2024 Hail Resistance Sequence Comparison


2023:

  • 89% of 2.0 mm glass/glass modules experienced broken glass with 50 mm hail.

  • Corner impacts yielded the highest breakage rates​​. 2024:

  • 89% of 2.0 mm glass/glass modules experienced breakage with 50 mm hail.

  • No glass-related power degradation >3%​​.


Little Change: The results remained consistent with previous years, maintaining high standards for hail resistance.


5 - Light-Induced Degradation (LID) & Light and Elevated Temperature Induced Degradation (LETID)

The LID & LETID test evaluates how well solar panels maintain their performance over time when exposed to sunlight and higher temperatures. LID measures how much a panel's power output drops initially when it's first used, due to material changes. LETID extends this by looking at how panels cope with both sunlight and heat over their lifespan. These tests help determine which panels are more reliable and durable for use in solar energy systems.


2023 and 2024 LID & LETID Comparison


2023:

  • 97% of solar panels had <2% power loss.

  • The median degradation was 0.8%​. 2024:

  • 96% of PV modules tested had <1% power loss.

  • Median degradation improved to 0.3%​.


Improvement: Better performance with a higher threshold for top performer qualification.


solar module testing

6 - Potential-Induced Degradation (PID)

The PID test is designed to evaluate the susceptibility of photovoltaic modules to a specific type of degradation that can occur under certain electrical conditions. PID refers to a phenomenon where the performance of PV modules degrades due to the combined effects of high voltage and high humidity or moisture levels. This can lead to leakage currents and the migration of charged particles within the module, causing degradation over time.


2023 and 2024 PID Comparison


2023:

  • 79% of modules were PID Top Performers.

  • Median degradation rates ranged from 1.1% to 1.6% across technologies​.


2024:

  • 58% of solar PV panels tested degraded by <2%.

  • Median degradation increased to 1.8%​.


Improvement: PID scores showed improvement from 2023 to 2024, indicating advancements in PV module durability against potential-induced degradation.


7 - Partial Angle  (PAN) Performance 

This test evaluates how modules perform when sunlight strikes them at non-optimal angles throughout the day, simulating real-world conditions where the angle of incidence of sunlight varies. By conducting the PAN Performance test, PVEL aims to provide insights into how well photovoltaic modules maintain efficiency and power output under varying sunlight angles.


2023 and 2024 Partial Angle Performance Comparison


2023:

  • Increased energy yields with TOPCon and HJT technologies (advanced solar cell technologies aimed at improving efficiency).

  • The top quartile-specific energy yield threshold increased by 0.8%​.


2024:

  • Maintained high performance, with the top quartile energy yield threshold increasing by 1%​.


Improvement: Enhanced energy yield, reflecting advancements in PV panel technologies.


3 - Comparative Performance of Different PV Module Manufacturers and Models

The PVEL Scorecard provides a detailed comparative analysis of various manufacturers and their models. Manufacturers such as LONGi Solar, JA Solar, and Trina Solar consistently ranked high, demonstrating their commitment to producing high-quality, reliable solar panels. These manufacturers' panels performed well in individual tests and showed balanced performance across multiple tests, indicating their overall robustness and reliability.


For instance, LONGi Solar's panels exhibited excellent performance in thermal cycling and damp heat tests, making them suitable for cold and humid climates. JA Solar's panels, known for their mechanical load resistance, are ideal for installations in areas with heavy snowfall or high wind loads. Trina Solar's panels stood out for their balanced performance, showing resilience in thermal cycling, damp heat, and hail resistance tests.


solar panel reliability test

4 - Dominance of Bifacial Solar Modules for Durability

Bifacial solar panels have significantly impacted the 2024 PVEL Scorecard, often dominating the list of top performers. These panels capture sunlight from both the front and back sides, increasing overall energy generation. This capability is particularly advantageous in regions with reflective surfaces like snow or sand, where additional light can be harnessed from the environment.


Many of the bifacial modules tested by PVEL demonstrated high efficiency and exceptional durability in the various stress tests. Their performance in the thermal cycling, damp heat, mechanical load, and hail resistance tests highlighted their robustness and adaptability to extreme weather conditions. This resilience makes bifacial modules a compelling choice for projects that demand both high performance and durability.


5 - Diverse Solar Panel Test Results

The comprehensive testing conducted as part of the PVEL PV Module Reliability Scorecard reveals a diverse range of performance among different panel models. This diversity underscores the complex interplay of factors influencing panel performance, including cell technology, manufacturing processes, and environmental conditions.


Test results highlight variations in efficiency, durability, and reliability across different panel models, emphasizing the importance of thorough evaluation and selection based on specific project requirements. Therefore, if you are a solar installer and project developer, you must carefully consider geographical location, climate, installation environment, and performance metrics when choosing a project's panels.


For example, panels that perform well in harsh environmental conditions, such as extreme temperatures or high humidity, may be better suited for installations in tropical or coastal regions. Similarly, panels with superior shading tolerance may be preferred for installations where shading is a significant concern.


Best Practices for Installation to Enhance Durability and Performance

Although selecting reliable solar PV panels is critical, don’t underestimate the critical role of proper installation. To maximize the durability and performance of solar panels, adhere to best installation practices:

  • Ensure proper mounting and securing of panels to withstand high winds and heavy snow loads.

  • Utilize quality mounting hardware and materials that resist corrosion and wear.

  • Maintain adequate ventilation around the panels to prevent overheating and ensure efficient operation.

  • Regularly inspect and maintain the system to identify and address any potential issues early.


How to Use the PVEL Top Performers Search Tool

The PVEL Top Performers search tool is valuable for solar installers seeking to identify the most reliable and high-performing solar energy panels. Here's how to effectively use this tool:

Access the Tool:


Filter by Criteria:

  • Use the filter options to narrow down the list of top-performing panels based on specific criteria such as manufacturer, module type (e.g., monofacial, bifacial), and test category (e.g., thermal cycling, damp heat, mechanical load, hail resistance).


Review Performance Metrics:

  • Examine the detailed performance metrics for each panel. The tool provides insights into how each panel fared in various stress tests, highlighting their strengths and areas of excellence.


Compare Solar Panels:

  • Utilize the comparison feature to evaluate multiple panels side-by-side. This comparison helps make informed decisions about which PV modules best suit specific project requirements and environmental conditions.


Download Reports:

  • Download detailed scorecard reports for in-depth analysis. These reports offer comprehensive data on each panel’s performance, providing additional context and information for decision-making.


Stay Updated:

  • Check the tool regularly for updates and new additions to the list of top performers. PVEL continuously tests new panels, and staying informed about the latest results ensures access to the most reliable products.


The Critical Role of Reliable Solar Panels for Extreme Weather Events

Due to the increasing prevalence and severity of extreme weather events, selecting reliable solar panels is more critical than ever. Highly reliable PV panels ensure that solar installations remain operational and efficient, even under the most challenging conditions, protecting investments and maintaining energy production. It is difficult to predict how the climate may change over a solar system's 30-year lifespan, so procuring solar panels with high reliability scores is wise.


By leveraging insights from the PVEL PV Module Reliability Scorecard and choosing panels that excel in rigorous tests, you can ensure the long-term success and resilience of your solar projects. This focus on reliability both enhances customer satisfaction and contributes to the broader goal of sustainable and dependable renewable energy solutions.


At GreenLancer, we are dedicated to accelerating the adoption of solar energy. Our services include permit-ready plan sets, engineering stamps, and interconnection applications. Create a free account to begin using the GreenLancer platform.



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