Tips to Maintain Your Solar Panels Year Round
One of the many benefits of solar panels is their durability. The lifespan of solar panels can exceed 30 years, so most systems come with 20-year warranties. While solar panels don’t require a lot of care, occasional cleaning and proper maintenance will increase their efficiency and lifespan.
You can read more about the benefits of having solar panels in Texas here.
Solar panels create more energy when they can absorb direct sunlight. Debris, pollen, dirt, and even bird droppings can build up on your panels and block sunlight. According to the National Renewable Energy laboratory, dirty solar panels are 25% less efficient. So, to ensure good power production, keep your solar panels clean.
Some solar panel manufacturers have made cleaning a condition of their warranty. If you don’t have proof of regular solar panel cleaning by professionals, your solar panels may not be covered by the warranty.
A Note About Safety
Before we get into the specifics of how to clean and maintain your solar panels, let’s talk about safety. Most solar systems are tied to an electrical grid – making any maintenance risky and potentially dangerous. Consider your personal safety before you attempt to clean your solar panels. And never try to repair any part of your solar system yourself. According to The Solar America Board for Codes and Standards (Solar ABCs), any solar maintenance should be conducted in pairs by trained technicians – with two CPR-trained professionals at the job site. This requirement shows the risk involved with electrical systems and the importance of hiring an experienced professional.
Seasonal Solar Panel Maintenance
Solar panels don’t require much regular maintenance. Most failures that do occur are related to electricity production or corrosion in the wires that tie your system to the grid – not with the panels themselves.
Keep in mind that solar panels can only produce electricity when the sun is shining directly on them. Any obstructions from pollen, dust, debris, or other airborne particles will affect production. Keep your panels unobstructed and clean, so that they can generate more power.
Summer Maintenance – Regular Rinses for Pollen and Dust
Summer should be your most productive season, but not if your panels are clouded by pollen, dust, animal droppings, or grime. When rainwater isn’t enough to clean your panels, you can rinse them off with a garden hose. This method is safer if you can reach your panels without using a ladder. Also, make sure to use demineralized water – hard water can cause corrosion or scaling over time.
Fall Maintenance – Clear Debris and Leaves
Solar panels can produce energy into the fall – as long as fallen leaves don’t cover them. Even if you don’t have tall trees overhanging your house, winds can carry leaves and debris and deposit them onto your panels.
You may be able to tackle this job yourself, but only if you have the proper safety equipment – a harness, sturdy rope, and ladder. Check your panel warranty first to make sure you won’t accidentally void it by using a roof rake or brush to clear leaves.
Winter Maintenance – Removing Ice and Snow
Fortunately, we don’t have to worry about snow as much in Central Texas. But ice buildup can threaten the integrity of your solar panels and weaken your roof. Most of the time, any snow we do get will melt off the roof after a day or two.
Since solar panels are made with tempered glass, they’re strong enough to withstand hailstorms. However, if one of your panels becomes cracked, contact your solar installer immediately and have the broken panel repaired or replaced.
Spring Maintenance – Annual Inspection
Preventative maintenance can extend the life and efficiency of your solar system – and spring is the perfect time for that. The Solar ABCs recommends that all annual visual inspections include a complete check for the following:
- Roof drainage issues
- Water damage at any roof penetrations
- Corrosion on electrical enclosures or the rack system
- Loose or exposed wiring or wiring that contacts the roof surface
- Proper expansion joints, supports, and bushings in long conduit runs
- Vegetation growth
- Burn marks, discoloration, or broken glass on solar panels
- Excessive cracking or wear on the inverter
- Missing bolts
- Erosion or corrosion of system supports
- Signs of animal infestation
Your solar installer may also want to conduct isolation tests to see if there’s any damage to the wiring insulation or resistance from broken or loose connections. If your system monitoring reveals a dead panel or you notice a drop in your production, these tests can determine the problem.
Electrical Component Care
The wiring that ties your solar panels to your home should last for the lifetime of your system. The best way to avoid electrical issues is to use an experienced and certified installer, like Malek Solar.
Most modern systems also come with real-time system monitoring, and you are promptly notified of any electrical issues. These monitoring systems allow you to check the production totals of each panel through an app on your smartphone or a website. Contact your solar installer any time you notice an unexpected loss in electricity production so that they can do a wiring inspection.
You’ll find a complete guide to going solar here.
Your solar system is an investment – and with proper maintenance, regular cleaning, and visual inspections, it will function at its maximum potential for decades. Make sure you work with a well-established solar company with experience, local knowledge, and certifications. Malek’s Total Protection Plan is a great way for customers to maintain their biggest home components, including solar panels, year-round.
Malek is a locally owned and operated business with more than 30 years of experience throughout Bryan, College Station, and the surrounding Central Texas area. We’ve worked hard to help our residential and commercial customers and build our reputation as a solar service company. Our experienced and friendly staff is here to meet all of your solar energy needs with our great selection of solar panel installation and repair services. Contact us today to learn more!
June 15, 2021