Benefits of Polycarbonate in Solar Applications

As the price of panels continues to decrease and solar power becomes more popular, the demand for solar enclosures will follow. Although the sun’s rays can provide energy to run homes, cars, and more, they can also damage the enclosures that house the components that help make solar energy generation possible. Your solar enclosure must be able to handle the elements and harsh environments. When looking for an ideal enclosure for solar components, UV protection is a crucial consideration.

Damaging Effects of UV Rays on Enclosure Materials

UV radiation can cause damage to materials by breaking apart the molecular chains that make them up, degrading their structural integrity. This process is a significant concern for some materials, such as fiberglass, that degrade when exposed to sunlight. They often crack and lose their flexibility and strength, affecting their ability to protect sensitive contents.

Aged Fiberglass Enclosure
Aged Fiberglass Enclosure

UV Resistant Polycarbonate vs. Fiberglass

Polycarbonate, one of the most versatile and strongest types of thermoplastics, has become ubiquitous in daily life. It can be found in snow shovels, safety windows, eyeglass lenses, windshields, outdoor personal protective equipment and more. Because polycarbonate is easily worked, molded and thermoformed, it’s used in an increasing number of applications, including enclosures for solar components that need protection from UV rays.

During the last 20 years, polycarbonate has overtaken fiberglass as the material of choice for solar enclosures. The differences between these two materials are evident. Even with a protective UV coating, fiberglass deteriorates, and the color fades in an outdoor environment and begins to look shabby in a short amount of time. But even more concerning, the resin itself actually wears away in a process known as fiber blooming, and all that’s left are the glass fibers. Over time this can cause damage that affects the protective qualities of the enclosure.

However, polycarbonate is an excellent, durable, UV- and impact-resistant material for outdoor enclosures. It’s easy to modify and drill holes into if needed onsite, creating small curls that are easy to sweep up. Fiberglass sheds very fine dust when modified that is an irritant to the eyes, skin and lungs. In addition, fiberglass dust is hard to clean up and will dull your tools.

Polycarbonate enclosures have an outstanding temperature range of minus 40 to 265 degrees Fahrenheit, making them suitable for various environments. It has twice the impact resistance of fiberglass, better machinability and won’t rust or corrode when exposed to the elements.

What to Look for in a Solar Enclosure

When looking for a suitable solar enclosure, polycarbonate checks all the boxes:

  • F1 UV protection rating that ensures the solar enclosure handles sun exposure as well as snow and rain. At Integra, we don’t coat our enclosures with a UV protection layer; we mix it into the polycarbonate before it is formed so the UV inhibitors are throughout and won’t wear away.
  • Twice fiberglass’s impact resistance and strength for protection from falling debris or windborne objects.
  • Easy to modify in the field without the harmful effects of fiberglass. You can also have Integra modify it for you.
  • Longer outdoor life expectancy than fiberglass and other enclosure materials. This equates to a more cost-effective and sustainable system!

Completing the circle, polycarbonate is also recyclable at the end of its useful life. In contrast, fiberglass goes straight to the landfill. This makes polycarbonate an ideal material for green and renewable solar energy.

Why Choose Integra Enclosures

Many enclosure manufacturers are out there, so why choose Integra Enclosures for your solar project? Integra is the largest polycarbonate enclosure manufacturer in the United States. We offer a wide range of sizes, configurations, and modification options so you get exactly what you need. When you partner with Integra, you can always count on:

  • Durable NEMA 4X and 6P enclosures that protect valuable electronics from weather and extend the system’s life.
  • Versatile sizes and options. We produce everything from low-profile enclosures that fit underneath residential solar panels to much larger sizes perfect for housing batteries and support equipment.
  • Consistent quality in both appearance and functionality.
  • Enclosures made in the USA, giving you top quality, fast availability and government incentives.

To find out more about our polycarbonate solar enclosures, contact us online or call 440-269-4966 to speak with an expert.

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