Solar panels are costly investments, but they will yield a great return in the long run especially if they are well maintained and regularly cleaned. To ensure you enjoy the benefits of solar power from year to year, you will need to take special care of your solar panels. Fortunately, whether you are addressing problems that animals can cause or the effects shade can have on your system, maintaining your panels is both easy and straightforward.
1. Keep Them Clean
Solar panels need access to the sun if they are to work, so it is very important to ensure that your panels remain clean. In fact, any type of build-up that blocks the sun will decrease the amount of energy your panels can absorb, making them less efficient.
To ensure your panels are receiving the optimal amount of sun, you should visually inspect your panels every month or two. You should look for any dirt that has built up or any debris that is blocking the sun’s rays. If your inspection reveals dirt or debris, you can simply remove or dust off the build-up. For debris that is not easily removed, you can gently spray the panels with your garden hose. However, if cleaning by hand is not an option, you can have automated cleaners installed. This type of cleaning system resembles a sprinkler system and is extremely easy to operate.
Your solar panels will also get build-up of dust and grime that is not as easily removed with the hose. You want to be careful when attempting to brush any build-up off, as you do not want to scratch the coating on the solar panels. It can pay off to get professional solar panel cleaning services on a regular basis to keep the solar panels performing at optimal levels.
2. Avoid Shade
Although shade from trees can help keep the interior of your house a bit cooler in the hotter months, allowing shade to block the sun from contacting your solar panels is counterproductive. Therefore, it is important to trim any vegetation, including tree limbs and bushes, to maintain a clear path of sunlight to your solar panels.
3. Daily Performance
A crucial component to keeping your solar panels operating at top levels is to be aware of how much energy your panels are producing. To do this, you should note the amount of energy your panels are producing at a specified time each day, recording performance on cloudy days as well. This can be a very simple task as most manufacturers will provide you with information regarding the use of a monitoring system that best suits your solar panels. Once you have a good idea of how your panels are performing, you can reduce the amount of monitoring to a weekly basis or even a monthly basis.
4. Protection From Above
It can be very relaxing watching birds eat from your feeder. However, left unchecked, birds can cause a lot of problems when it comes to your solar panels. For instance, bird excrement is highly acidic. If it is not removed from your panels, it can eat at the casing, which can cause a short circuit. Additionally, birds love to make nests in tight spaces, which can also interfere with your system’s performance. You can protect your solar panels from the havoc birds can bring by simply installing a bird proofing mesh.
5. Perimeter Protection
Possums, rats and other rodents can easily damage your solar panels. For instance, squirrels love to chew through wire, and this behaviour can leave you with a costly and unexpected repair. Additionally, rodents love to build nests in places that provide extra protection from the elements, and your solar array does just that. To combat any problems these animals can cause, you can simply install a critter guard. A critter guard is a metal screen, much like chicken wire, that you attach to the sides of the panels.
6. Inspect Connections and Wiring
Solar systems are a complex combination of panels and wires that result in hundreds of connections. It is important to understand that, as time goes by, these connections are repeatedly exposed to the weather, debris, and animals. Such continuous exposure can cause connection points to loosen, causing instability and a decrease in performance. To ensure this does not occur, you should inspect the wiring and all connections each year and address any potential problems in a timely manner.
7. Inspect Inverters
It is also very important to inspect your system’s inverters on an annual basis. Although inverters are designed to function properly during normal as well as extreme temperatures, they can be negatively affected by debris and dust. Additionally, you should have the filters and fans cleaned during an annual inspection to keep your system functioning properly. Finally, if your inverters are not flashing green, you should have your system checked by a professional as this indicates that your system is not working properly.
8. Severe Weather
Any type of weather like a hurricane or even just a bad storm can result in damaged panels. Any damage, no matter the severity, will have an impact on your system’s ability to function properly. As such, it is very important to visually inspect the panels after a storm and address any damage as soon as possible. Since not all damage can be easily seen, you should also monitor your panels to determine if there is a reduction in performance.
9. Rack and Roof Penetration
Solar racking is a type of mounting system designed to securely fix solar panels to your roof. Additionally, the bolting system that penetrates your roof is designed to ensure the system remains structurally sound. Although it is rare, leaking can occur, so it is important to inspect the rack and your roof on an annual basis. If a leak is apparent, you should immediately contact the company that installed your panels. As this type of issue is typically covered under the warranty, you should have no issues having the leak fixed.
10. Professional Check-up
Many dealers offer a professional check-up that is free of charge. If your dealer offers this, you should absolutely take advantage of this service. However, even if your dealer does not offer this service for free, you should have your panels checked on an annual basis as doing so will ensure that you have not missed any problems during your personal maintenance routine