It is often assumed that solar panels are entirely maintenance-free. However, most solar panel manufacturers advise their customers to perform regular inspection and occasional maintenance to ensure that the panels are working efficiently. Regular maintenance will also ensure the longevity of your solar system’s lifespan. Here are a few guidelines to consider when it comes to solar panel maintenance:
1. Install a monitoring system
Efficient monitoring of your solar system will help you keep track of its performance and the amount of energy it produces. A proper monitoring system can also diagnose faults in your solar system that might need attention. Sophisticated monitoring systems can identify specific spots in a solar system that are not working properly. Acting as soon as you become aware of a decline in performance will ensure the longevity of your system’s lifespan.
2. Keep the surface area of the panels clean
Clean solar panels, whether they’re used with a generator or on their own, much more efficient. Any dirt or grime that accumulate on the panels will obstruct the absorption of sunlight, thereby reducing the amount of energy that they produce. If you live in an environment where it doesn’t rain too often, you can hose your solar panels down occasionally to keep them clean.
3. Let nature run its course
In most residential installation scenarios, cleaning solar panels is not always profitable. It is advisable to let Mother Nature do her job as far as possible, and allow the panels to be cleaned naturally by rain.
4. Invest in a solar panel cleaning kit
These kits generally consist of a biodegradable detergent, a wiper, and a soft brush. Some kits also include another brush with a longer handle or an extension pole. You can also use your car cleaning kit as an alternative, as the cleaning materials are very similar. The most important thing to remember is that you should never use any abrasive materials or harsh chemicals. Solar panels are made from glass and are therefore very susceptible to damage.
When cleaning your solar panels yourself, use a soft brush or an air hose to get rid of any loose materials first. Dilute the recommended amount of soap in a bucket of water. Dip the brush in the soap-and-water mixture and gently clean the panels. Use the wiper to wipe the panels while they are still wet. If the soap is allowed to dry on the panels, it will leave behind a residue that will obstruct the absorption of sunlight.
According to a technical report published by the National Renewable Energy Laboratory, a simulation showed that three annual cleanings would reduce the annual soiling loss of a system in Mesa Arizona from 1.91% to 1.20%.
5. Install an automated cleaning system
This is especially a good idea if you live in a dusty environment or have a large array of solar panels installed. These systems can be programmed to clean your solar panels periodically. More sophisticated systems are also available. These systems are equipped with sensors and will clean the panels whenever they sense dust or dirt.
6. Implement bird control
Birds can cause extensive damage to solar panels by perching on them or nesting under them. Bird droppings can also permanently damage panels when they are left to dry. As the bird droppings harden, it becomes difficult to clean the panels without damaging them. They could also leave behind a permanent outline that is imprinted on your panels. It is advisable to take ecofriendly bird control measures to avoid this rather than having to pay for expensive repairs or replacements later. Some companies specialize in bird-deterring equipment such as weather-resistant mesh, spikes and sonic devices. You can also refrain from planting trees near the panels, as they will attract even more birds.
7. Remove debris from your solar panels
Inspect your panels regularly for debris such as fallen leaves. Not only will collected debris obstruct the absorption of sunlight, but it will also restrict water drainage.
8. Remove heavy snow loads
Solar panels are not designed to hold much weight. Heavy snow loads may cause damage to your solar panels and should be removed as soon as possible.
9. Remove oily stains
If you live near an airport or major roadway, it’s possible for oily stains to appear on your solar panels. When this happens, you can use isopropyl alcohol as a spot-cleaning substance.
10. Angle your panels
Water pools up more easily on flat panels and leave behind a muddy residue when it evaporates. Angled panels, however, can be cleaned more effortlessly as water can run down from them much more easily.
11. Hire professional cleaners
If you are not able to clean your panels while standing on the ground, or if they are covered in tough grime and other materials that are difficult to clean, it is advisable to hire professional cleaners. They have the necessary equipment and training to clean your solar panels safely and effectively.
12. When is the best time to clean your solar panels?
It’s best to clean your panels in cooler weather conditions, such as an overcast day or early morning and -evening. If it’s too hot, any water used to clean the panels will evaporate quickly and this will cause any dirt to smear.
Early morning is the recommended time of day for cleaning. During the night, dew might settle on the panels and soften any grime. This means that you will need less water and energy to clean your solar panels.
Solar panels that receive proper care can last for several years. So, if you’re looking for a low-cost way to reducing your energy bills, they’re an excellent choice. Their maintenance is much less of a hassle than other lifestyle modifications, and they provide off-the-grid energy where there is a power shortage.
If you’re looking for more information on solar panel systems, visit our website. We’ll do an unbiased assessment of your prospective system, and provide you with a comprehensive guide that you can use to make an informed purchase.