Q: I am going to be using Voltaic in a dusty place. Should I put screen protectors like I use for my phone/iPod over the panels?

A: We recommend that you don’t, but it is not a firm “don’t” at this point.

Here’s our thinking:

1. The coating on the panels is tough and resilient. If they get dirty, you can wash them with a damp cloth. Small scratches will melt out under the sun as well.

2. Anything sitting between the sun and the panels will reduce power production. In a quickie test, we placed a iPod screen protector over the panel (covered about 90% of the cells). While charging one of our battery packs, we saw a slight dip in power:

Without Screen Protector 4.08V .32A = 1.31W
With Screen Protector 4.06V .31A = 1.26W

So that’s only 3.5%, what’s the big deal? Every Watt counts with solar and we value the simplicity of not using the screens. In addition, we aren’t quite sure how they’ll behave in the heat and dust – whereas we know how the panels behave under these conditions. If you want to experiment and let us know what you find, let us know! We’re open to feedback.

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