Solar panels are a worthy investment that can offer you renewable solar energy for the next thirty years or more. As a result, their maintenance is crucial to ensure your long-term benefits. Whether you're a first-time owner or you've had solar panels for years, many owners overlook the need for solar panel maintenance or cleaning to get the most out of their investment.
So, how do you maintain them? To help you get started, this guide gives you an insight into the dos and don'ts of solar panel maintenance.
Why You Should Pay Attention to Solar Panel Maintenance
Cleaning your solar panels is essential – whether they’re on your home, or portable ones that you take with you everywhere. Solar panels comprise various materials, some of which are tremendously sensitive. When incorrectly cleaned and maintained, these materials can cause corrosion or even start breaking down your panel. To prevent a breakdown, it's imperative to clean your solar panels properly. Some of the benefits of solar panel maintenance include the following:
- Increasing efficiency
- Protect panel warranty
- Increase durability
- Improve ROI time
- Aesthetic appeal
- Rainwater doesn't do it for you
Dos for Solar Panel Maintenance
Clean Solar Panels Regularly
Depending on the weather or season in your region, and dirt and debris, you'll need to clean your solar panels regularly to eliminate anything that will lower your system's efficiency.
You should clean your solar panels regularly, preferably two to four times annually. You can use a monitoring app that tracks the amount of energy produced to notice a dip in the production, a clear sign that it's time to clean your solar panels.
Cleaning solar panels is one of the easiest and most common ways you can keep up with maintenance. It only requires a garden hose, water, sponges, and elbow grease. Just put on your rubber gloves and do the following.
All you require is a leaf blower or a quick spray with your garden hose to clean your panels and ensure they're in top condition. If using water, ensure it's lukewarm and use a squeegee with a long handle. It's important to note that you should avoid hot water when cleaning snow off the panels during winter. Solar panels are made of tempered glass, and the extreme temperature difference between cold and hot water can crack them.
Here are some basics to follow:
- Remember to turn off the power
- Use calcium-free water
- Avoid using cold water on hot panels
- Clean the solar panels with gentle materials
Inspect Solar Panels for Damage
Solar panels, like every other artificial infrastructure object, require frequent inspection. Typically, Photovoltaic (PV) solar panel inspection requires using two sensors- daylight and infrared (IR) cameras, to detect faulty panels that heat up due to physical damage, debris, or connection issues.
Always inspect your solar panels for damage by checking the wiring and connections to ensure they're tight and the mounting system is secure. Some of the signs that you need to repair your solar panels include the following:
- Physical degradation
- Output and performance
- Solar panel age
- Broken glass with microfractures
- Discoloration and burnt marks
- Counterfeit or subpar panels
Follow the Manufacturer's Instructions
When performing routine maintenance, always adhere to the manufacturer's instructions.
Don'ts for Solar Panel Maintenance
Do Not Pressure Wash Solar Panels
Avoid using pressure washers when cleaning your panels; the usual hose is more than enough. High-pressure washers can severely affect the operation of your solar panels as they risk causing microfractures in the panel. You also risk voiding the warranty using a high-pressure washer, as many providers state this should be avoided.
Besides, metal objects, abrasive materials, or harsh chemicals can scratch, cloud, or even damage the glass front of the panels. Reducing the clarity of the panels reduce their efficiency and can damage the solar production as the shading you were attempting to clear away.
If soapy water doesn't work, it's advisable to schedule a health check, and a professional technician will help you clear the dirt or debris away safely. An annual service health check is ideal for keeping your panels in perfect condition.
Do Not Walk on Solar Panels
Your safety should always be your main concern, as you can injure yourself after falling off your roof while inspecting or cleaning the panels. As a result, you should always wear proper safety equipment when cleaning or inspecting your solar panels.
Likewise, you should avoid walking on the solar panels as you can break the glass panels. So, always use a long-handled wiper to clean your panels while standing on the ground for your safety and those around you.
Do Not Install Solar Panels in Shaded Areas
For the maximum efficiency and energy production, you should never install solar panels in shaded areas or let debris or vegetation accumulate around them. You should trim the nearby trees and plants to ensure maximum exposure to sunlight. Always watch out for dirt on the solar panels to ensure it doesn't build up, as they usually absorb sunlight better when free of dirt.
Do Not Attempt Repairs by Yourself
As previously stated, solar panels are made of various materials, some of which are quite sensitive. For this reason, it's important to contact a savvy and qualified technician for the job. So, if you notice your solar panels are losing efficiency and still under a power output or performance warranty, it's advisable to contact the company that installed the panels. The company will send a qualified technician to assess the situation and replace or repair the panels.
If the panels have sustained physical damage, that's usually covered under a different equipment warranty. You can contact your solar installer to identify who can best replace the panels. Either way, avoid trying to install the solar panels or make the repairs yourself unless you're a qualified technician or have experience with home solar systems.
Most solar panels are located on the roof, so hiring a professional and experienced technician is safer. The good thing is that even with hiring a technician, your maintenance costs will be minimal.
As per Home Advisor, the average yearly maintenance costs of solar panels are around $450. $150 for an annual inspection and $150 for the two cleanings. However, the maintenance costs could be slightly higher if there's damage to the solar panel system or if you clean the panels regularly due to the debris or dirt accumulating more quickly.
Depending on the panel installer, you could even pay less for the maintenance. Some solar panel providers include several visits in the solar panel purchase. Other providers could give service plans covering regular cleaning and maintenance.How Often Do Solar Panels Require Maintenance?
Solar panel maintenance is fairly minimal. There are usually three different schedules to watch keep in mind:
Annual Inspection: Annually hire a qualified technician to inspect your panels and ensure they work correctly.
Cleaning: Generally, ensure your solar panels are cleaned out approximately twice a year. You might only need a single cleaning annually if you leave n areas with plenty of rain and where your solar panels don't accumulate much debris or dirt.
Additional Maintenance: If you notice any issue with your solar panels outside the annual inspection, you can schedule a maintenance appointment as required.
Solar panels come with a huge price tag compared to most household appliances. Fortunately, they also require minimal maintenance and have significantly longer lifespans. The main regular maintenance required for your solar panels is cleaning and an annual inspection.
Cleaning your solar panels is imperative to their long-term performance and to prevent degradation, which can lower degradation and reduce energy production. Cleaning your solar panels is crucial to improve efficiency, extend the warranty period, and increase durability, improve ROI time.
It's, therefore, important to follow solar panel maintenance guidelines provided by your provider. Make a point of browsing Solar Paradise's collection of solar panels to find the one that best suits your needs. You can also contact the Solar Paradise Customer Support team for more information about solar panels and the dos and don'ts of solar maintenance.