Solar panels are a great investment, and when cared for properly, you can expect to have renewable solar energy for at least 25 years. That depends on your energy consumption, of course, and even if you don’t go fully solar yet, easing into the transition is better than nothing.
That said, how should one care for a solar panel system? Is there a special solar panels maintenance checklist you should know about? The answer is yes, and no. In general, they require little maintenance to do their job. However, that doesn’t mean you should leave them alone. Here are a few things you can do to make sure your solar panel system functions as well as it should.
Keep Them Out of the Shade
This may sound like stating the obvious, but it’s not. When there’s enough shade to keep solar panels from absorbing sunlight, their energy production will be affected, and they could wind up becoming inefficient. That’s something no one who’s invested in a solar panel system wants.
So make sure you take your surroundings into account when having solar panels installed. Whether you have a roof system or a ground system, take care that nothing nearby will end up keeping even some of the panels in the shade.
Clean Them Periodically
Dirt and debris can build up on your solar panels, interfering with how much sunlight they absorb. You can buy solar panel cleaning kits to use, or you can just make your own. Mix some biodegradable soap in water, dip a soft rag or brush (long-handled or otherwise) into the mixture, and begin wiping the panels.
If you clean your solar panel system regularly, you’ll eventually need to just run a hose along the panels to remove any dirt that’s built up.
You should also remember to clear away any snow that’s built up on your solar panel system, especially after a heavy snowfall. You can use a squeegee with a long handle, or some water. Make sure you use warm – not hot! – water when doing this; the difference in temperature between cold snow (and cold air) and hot water can crack the glass. When that happens, you’ll need to call for solar panel repair, which could be very costly.
Monitor Your System
If you want to make sure your system is functioning well, you need to monitor it. Basic monitoring shouldn’t take more than a few minutes a day, but a thorough check will take a little longer. For basic monitoring, you just have to make sure the panels’ inverters are flashing green, and check the inverter display panel to see if there were any recorded faults.
For extensive monitoring, you’ll want to check the wiring to make sure it hasn’t frayed somewhere or been damaged in any way, and check all parts of the system to see if anything has corroded or deteriorated somehow. It’s also important to see whether or not cables and fittings are still secure, and check vents to make sure they’re free from debris.