Solar panel framing refers to the process of attaching protective and strengthening frames to the PV laminates of a solar panel.
How are solar panels framed?
Most manufacturers in China use a simple pneumatic or hydraulic framing machine to attach frames to the PV laminates.
First, the frame that slides around the laminate will be filled with silicon adhesive. Then, the frame will be pressed around the laminate.
Some small size PV manufacturers attach PV frames by hand (or rather with a hammer) which may lead to the solar panel being only loosely, weakly framed.
What are the advantages of using frames for your solar panels?
Framed solar panels are definitely better protected during transport than frame-less solar panels. Also the PV frame will provide strength to the entire module.
Are PV frames really needed?
Frames give strength to a solar panel, however a good frame-less solar panel can already be strong enough to bear any heavy hail storm or other impacts. It comes down to the strength and thickness of the glass.
Perhaps it sounds weird to negotiate on the thickness of the glass with a PV manufacturer, however it is a common way for manufacturer to reduce costs by using slightly thinner glass than common. Average is around 3 tot 3.5mm. A frame-less PV module should be around 4mm.
Alternatives to PV frames
The holes on the back of a PV frame make it easy to install the panels on a mounting structure. However there are more and more mounting solutions that offer an alternative to the 'old fashioned' frames.
One good solution is the use of clamps on frame-less modules. It's easy to install and it looks much better than framed panels on a roof.