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We Answered Some Common Solar Panel Maintenance Questions

We Answered Some Common Solar Panel Maintenance Questions

Do solar panels need to be maintained?

Solar panels generally require very little maintenance in order to function. The only thing they need is a periodic light cleaning to make sure dirt, leaves, and other debris is not obstructing the sun's rays.

The only time you may need more extensive maintenance is during periods of heavy snowfall, or if your panels' energy output starts to decrease. Let us take a closer look at how to make sure your solar panels last as long as possible.

 

How do you maintain solar panels?

If your panels are tilted, well then you are in in luck: rainfall actually clears away debris that has accumulated on them. However, during the dry season or extended periods without rain, it is important to clean them manually.

It is generally recommended that you perform solar panel cleaning between two and four times per year. The good news is that this does not require a lot of work. All you really need is a leaf blower or a quick spray with a garden hose, and your panels will be clean and in top condition.

In winter, you may need to clean your panels after a heavy snowfall. If you are using water to clear the snow away, make sure it is lukewarm. You can also use a squeegee with a long handle. Just remember, never use hot water when clearing snow off the panels. The panels are made of tempered glass, and the extreme temperature disparity between hot water and cold panels can crack them.

 

How about cleaning portable solar panels?

If you are a regular outdoors adventurer, you would most likely have some sort of solar setup either a foldable unit in your 4×4 or a mounted unit on your campervan. The problem is: the best trips are often the ones that get your vehicle and everything installed on it - dirty. Whether you were off on a dusty off-road trip or a camping spot under a big tree, your solar panels will definitely not be staying clean.

But no worries because all you are going to need to clean them is:

  • A hose or bucket
  • A sponge
  • Dishwashing soap
  • Clean water.

Wash off the excess grime with the hose or bucket, give the panels a light wipe with a soapy sponge, and then rinse the panels again. And if you have solar panels on top of your campervan, make sure you take the necessary safety precautions before climbing the ladder up.

Always keep in mind that in order for your solar power setup to work efficiently, keeping panels clean is essential. Whether you're running your caravan fridge or your home appliances on solar, a dirty panel may generate around 5% less electricity then a clean one.

 

Ground panels vs. roof panels: Is there a maintenance difference?

The only real difference between maintaining ground-mounted solar systems and roof solar systems is that ground panels are easier to access, and therefore easier to keep clean. If you notice a buildup of snow or other debris, you can simply sweep it off with a broom.

What is the standard warranty for solar panels?

Make sure you are getting a good solar panel warranty before you go solar. This is because if your solar panels' efficiency does start to decrease, you are going to need professional maintenance that can potentially cost you thousands of dollars over the years. A good solar company will give you a warranty of between 15 and 25 years, and guarantee that your panels' energy production remains at 85% or above for that entire time.

 

How does extreme weather impact your solar panels?

Solar panels are designed to be durable. Top quality solar panel installations allow PV systems to withstand all kinds of weather, from wind and rain to snow and more. However, you would be glad to know that solar panels hold up well against hail. As a matter of fact, they can even survive hurricanes.

Of course, they are not 100% indestructible; on rare occasions can suffer damage by hail, hurricanes, tornadoes or lightning. But as long as you have a good warranty, and/or your panels are covered by homeowners' insurance, you should be able to have any damaged panels repaired or replaced.

Somewhat ironically, the type of weather that most commonly affects panels is heat. Yes we know, right? When the temperature gets over 90 degrees, panels lose efficiency approximately 1% per degree. However, by elevating them a few inches above the ground or roof, you allow for air circulation, which can help cool them down and maintain energy production.

 

Can you monitor the health of your solar panels?

By integrating a solar panel monitoring system into your setup, you can track how much energy your panels produce on any given day, and how much they produce over time. This allows you to see exactly how various external factors affect your panels' performance and how well they are maintaining their efficiency across their life. The monitoring system will also alert you if a panel breaks or malfunctions so that you can repair or replace it.

 

How to repair or replace solar panels

If your panels need to be repaired or replaced, it's best to hire a professional. If they are losing efficiency and still under a performance/power output warranty, then call your solar company. They are going to send someone to assess the situation and either fix the problem or replace the panels.

If your panels have sustained physical damage that is often covered under a separate equipment warranty, or under your homeowners' insurance. Find out if and how your panels are covered for damage, and whom to call to file a claim. Either way, make sure that you do not attempt to install solar panels or make repairs yourself unless you are experienced with home solar systems.

 

Conclusion: Are solar panels hard to maintain?

All-in-all, maintaining your solar panels is pretty easy. Just be sure to get a good warranty and good insurance, and can keep your panels free of dirt and debris buildup. If you do that, and your panels should continue to operate at peak efficiency, bringing you clean, renewable solar power for years to come.