Sunblock for Solar Panels

April 15, 2012

In recent years, ozone depletion has increased New Zealand’s exposure to destructive high-energy UV radiation. The Antarctic ozone-layer hole usually breaks up in early summer and this means New Zealand is sometimes affected by ozone-depleted air as it moves over the country.

New Zealand’s exposure to high levels of UV radiation is mainly because of the position of the sun combined with its proximity during summer months, and our relatively unpolluted atmosphere. Peak UV radiation levels in New Zealand can be 40% higher than levels at comparable latitudes such as North America.

The results of this exposure is the premature breaking-down of many kinds of plastics, polymers and resins (as well as the increased risk of skin cancer) Anyone who has purchased cheap solar garden lights will be aware of how cloudy the tiny solar panels go after only 6 months of direct sunlight – this is the epoxy resin breaking down.

Solar garden lights are one example – many imported products intended for outdoor use in other countries often use inexpensive plastics that will deteriorate in no time in the harsher New Zealand sun and this vulnerability must be addressed by any responsible manufacturer.

Our design team have observed complete failure of 3mm thick ABS plastic enclosures within 12 months, eventually allowing water ingress and electronic failure. The same enclosure may have lasted 5 years in another country.

As a result of this information we have taken a high degree of precaution in the design of Parabeam products to ensure they are far more immune to this issue.

Earlier ® solar panels were dunked in a special UV blocking coating and this worked well to preserve their lifespan however the process was messy and labour intensive. Recent improvements are an integral polycarbonate sheet bonded to the underlying resin which forms a permanent sun-block protection barrier against UV damage.

In addition to this our beam-set enclosures are entirely polycarbonate, as is our front-panel label.