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Golf Ball and Hail Damage Prevents Cleaning of Solar Panels

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Broken Solar Panels Prevent Cleaning of Solar Panels

Solar cleaners are frequently the first to discover broken solar panels at customer sites. Solar panels with broken glass are a ticking time bomb for solar system owners. Not only do they prevent regular cleaning, but also reduce system energy production. Often entire systems are shut down by resulting fault errors.

To solar cleaners, discovery of broken solar panels can dissrupt business until solar panels are replaced. Eliminating this issue will help ensure predictable ongoing client services.

Solar modules impacted by golf balls or base balls typically have fractured glass, initially at the area of impact, but it rapidly expands outward due to daily thermal cycles.  This glass is tempered, and breaks into small chards, and powdery dust.

Solar panel glass damaged by golf ball

 The normal process for cleaning solar panels is to use a brushing  action, with a water fed scrub brush mounted on the end of a 20-40ft extendable pole. NissenSolarCleaning.jpg

During the scrubbing action, a water rinse is sprayed from multiple nozzles within the scrub brush. Cleaning bruch.jpg


If the glass of a solar panel is fractured, the scrubbing action of the brush will dislodge the chards of broken glass, spreading them across the roof surface. Eventually they will be transported down the gutter, and pile up under the downspout.  The pressure of the brushing action will very likely cause the area of broken glass to become larger as well. The associated water spray rinse effectively works the water into the inner workings of the solar panel.

The water within the solar module will eventually cause electrical conduction between the internal wiring and the grounded metal frame of the module. Depending on a large number of variables, the 'shorting' action of the water may cause the solar power inverter to produce a fault, typically called a 'Ground Fault'.   Ground-faults within PV modules, i.e. a solar cell short circuiting to grounded module frames due to deteriorating encapsulation, impact damage, or water corrosion in the PV module. Consequently, the entire system shuts down. 

Ground Fault display.jpg

Cleaning with Nets Installed

Solar nets typically cover the horizontal surface of solar panels.  Once installed, they are positioned approximately 16-18 inches above the panel surface. Cleaning brushes can be inserted from the  edges of the array, extending along the surfaces of the modules for cleaning.

If necessary, Solar nets can be unclipped during cleaning, thereby enabling unfettered access.  All edges of the nets can be released from the support brackets by unhooking the carabiner clips.

Course view from SolarNets



Golf ball damage to solar modules creates a cascade of problems. It starts with a simple broken glass, and ends up with all solar production stopping.

Initially the broken glass spreads across the rooftop, ending up on the yard, at the bottom of the gutter downspout.

The system can no longer be safely cleaned without exposing the cleaner to broken glass and chards.

Finally, the solar inverter will 'trip a fault' due to ground fault detection.

The solar companies remedy to this situation is typically a number of service calls. One trip for assessment, and a second trip to install the broken modules.  Once all is restored, only hope will prevent a repeat of this process.

It is becoming very clear that addition of protective netting for solar panels from SolarNets is a key component for protecting solar panels from damage. Golf ball safety netting gives golf course homeowners peace of mind and confidence that their solar systems will remain operational, saving them money.

Net Installation is an ideal solution and can be offered by solar panel cleaners.  Installing SolarNets typically costs less than replacement cost of two solar modules.  Installing nets is easy and effective.

  1. -Installing solar nets creates new revenue stream
  2. -Typical 2-hour installation time
  3. -Nets ensure undamaged solar panels can be cleaned
  4. -Routine cleaning schedules are not interrupted due to broken modules
  5. -Risks of worker injury due to broken glass is reduced

The site SolarNets.com provides a complete solution for creating a golf ball protection net solution.  Staff can quickly assess the net requirements from basic solar module and layout information. Alternatively, users can replicate their rooftop solar panel layout using the Net Designer, and draw the shape net to cover the vulnerable solar panels. A complete selection of net support brackets is offered to accomodate attachment directly to the solar panel frames or to the rooftop surface. 

Once the solar panel netting design and component selection is complete, users can review a complete quote before placing the online order. The completed order is shipped directly to the homeowner.


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