If you are wondering how to maintain solar panels, then you may be pleased to learn that it is actually a very simple task. Although your panels can generate electricity every time the sun is shining on them, there is very little that needs to be done in order for your system to continue to operate efficiently.
In this article, we will explore everything you need to know about solar panel maintenance and cleaning so that you can generate the most possible renewable energy for years and years to come.
Do solar panels require maintenance?
While you can expect solar panels to produce electricity for three decades and more, systems typically require very little maintenance to continue operating efficiently. Besides the occasional cleaning, solar panels can largely be ignored as they passively generate renewable energy daily. PPM Solar have been providing maintenance services for 14 years, and we had experience with the systems as old as 20 years old.
Solar panel repair and maintenance is required from time to time, but residential system owners do not have to worry about much ongoing upkeep. This is largely thanks to the fact that solar panel systems do not have any moving parts and are continuously refueled by the sun, rather than a manual process of any kind.
How often do solar panels need maintenance?
The frequency for which solar maintenance is required is based on the size of the system and the conditions around the installation. While smaller home systems may only require a routine annual or bi-annual inspection for preventative maintenance measures, large installations like solar power for farms in Florida should be more closely monitored to optimize ongoing performance.
Ultimately, PV system maintenance is usually only performed when there is a part malfunction or significant loss in energy production efficiency. This may be caused by internal issues with the equipment or a number of external factors such as weather, the quality of the installation, or unforeseen circumstances. PPM recommends to keep an eye on your electric bills and the online monitoring, this way the homeowners can find and resolve any issue promptly.
What maintenance is required for solar panels?
More than anything else, solar panel cleaning is the most common maintenance required for PV energy systems. While rainy or snowy conditions can actually do a pretty good job of cleaning PV panels, areas without frequent precipitation are more likely to lose system efficiency due to the buildup of airborne debris. Even with a downpour, precipitation alone is also unlikely to fully eradicate a set of solar panels of dirt or dust.
To clean your solar panels, some homeowners find success in a simple spray from the garden hose. For a deeper clean, you can also hire a professional PV panel cleaning service to maximize the amount of light that can reach your panels unobstructed by grime or sediment.
Beyond routine cleaning, servicing solar panels may be required when a part is broken or a new piece of equipment is added. Inverter replacement may be necessary due to part failure, wires can be replaced if damaged by weather, animals, or other factors, and some homeowners choose to add electricity storage such as a Tesla battery installation midway through the operating life of a solar energy system.
How much does it cost to maintain solar panels?
The cost of solar panel maintenance is typically very low and sometimes nonexistent for residential PV system owners. When you install solar panels in Florida, most of the costs exist upfront and solar power maintenance may only be required when system parts fail. Oftentimes, a faulty inverter or solar panel will malfunction while it is still under warranty, thus not costing any extra to replace or repair.
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How do I know if my solar panels need maintenance?
The best way to know the exact moment when your solar panels need maintenance is to actively monitor their performance. When you see a dip in electricity production levels, either on a monitoring app or on your energy bills, then some solar panel upkeep may be required and you should contact your installer.
Critically, you should never attempt any internal solar cell maintenance if a panel were to break down and stop working. Even if you are an electrical engineer, performing any “solar panel surgery” is more than likely going to void an existing warranty and possibly put you and your system at risk for damage.
When do I need to clean my solar panels?
According to the National Renewable Energy Laboratory, solar panels can be cleaned on an “interval” or “condition-based” schedule to optimize performance. While it is recommended to clean your solar panels at least once a year, overly dry conditions or individual cases like bird droppings, fallen leaves, or heavy pollen levels may warrant a one-time cleaning to keep performance high.
So like many things in residential solar, how often you should clean solar panels depends on many individual factors unique to your installation such as its location, weather conditions, and unexpected events.
Should solar panels be cleaned by a professional?
For the safest and most effective way to clean your solar panels, we recommended hiring a professional. With a professional solar panel cleaning, you do not have to risk the safety of your roof, the system, or yourself as a contractor will be able to take care of the job, typically in less than two hours.
Of course, if you’re worried about the cost to clean solar panels, then there is always the option of doing it yourself. Unlike the wiring or installation processes, cleaning solar panels does not require a permit or professional certification, and can generally be performed by any able-bodied individual. Before you get started, you’ll want to familiarize yourself with the best methods and equipment used for DIY solar panel cleaning to prevent system damage and maximize its effectiveness.
For large systems like commercial solar power in Florida where hundreds of panels are installed together, hiring a professional is almost always recommended to maintain optimal system performance with efficient, ongoing cleanings.
When do solar panels need to be replaced?
Unless a part has malfunctioned and is no longer generating electricity, solar panels generally only need to be replaced after 25 years or more. Although it is true that solar panels slowly lose efficiency over time, high-quality equipment can still produce significant amounts of electricity two and three decades after an installation.
As a company that installs solar energy for homes in Florida, we replace individual panels every so often, but entire arrays are more typically decommissioned all at once. If a homeowner needs to replace their roof during a solar system’s lifetime, the panels can also be taken down and replaced once the new materials have been installed.
The Keys to Solar Panel Maintenance
To care for solar panels without expending too much time or energy, it is important to monitor the performance of your system as reported by your inverter or inverters. If your panels seem to be working properly, there is no need to worry about maintenance beyond a yearly inspection for debris buildup, potential wiring issues, and other problems caused by life outdoors.
When considering upgrading your system in any way, you should consult a professional before making any changes to your solar energy installation. Those homeowners who are interested in exploring the benefits of solar energy storage may need to upgrade other system parts, such as the inverter or home electrical panel, in order to safely incorporate a battery.
Ground-mounted Panel Maintenance
In general, ground-mounted solar panels maintenance is easier to perform than on a rooftop system. As the modules are installed at ground level, both homeowners and those hired to perform the servicing of solar systems can more easily access the equipment for cleaning, routine inspection, or part replacement.
Of course, ground-mounted panels are also more easily accessible for unwanted visitors such as animals or neighborhood pranksters. To prevent unnecessary damage to systems that would cause the need for repair, you can minimize the chances of panel damage with a security fence and camera system.
Rooftop Solar Panel Maintenance
Although they are typically cheaper to install than ground-mounted systems, rooftop solar panels are a bit more expensive to maintain over time. As you will need to access your roof for any emergency or preventative PV maintenance, cleaning or replacing your panels will take more time and effort than simply approaching a ground-level installation.
Here, safety is very important and maintenance should only be performed either with a harness or a tremendous amount of experience and caution. If you have qualms or concerns about safely cleaning your rooftop solar panels, hiring a professional will help you mitigate both your stress and the risk of injury.
Solar Panel Warranties
The key to keeping the costs of any solar system maintenance low is to fully understand the warranties of your panels, inverters, batteries, and more. As parts can malfunction, working with a company that offers great warranties and covers system repairs will help you minimize the costs of required maintenance and can also reduce the amount of time your system is offline and unable to produce new energy.
Here, choosing the right solar provider is the best way to reduce the chances of a faulty system or costly repair. And while canvassing is a common way for companies to market their products, it is important to never fall for a door-to-door solar scam and always read the fine print before signing a new contract.
When it comes time to make a warranty claim, you can work directly with your installer to ensure that everything is filed properly and that the parts will be replaced within your coverage period.
To put it simply, when you install a PV energy system, maintaining solar panels should be one of the last things on your mind. While solar panels can reduce your energy costs or assist with going off the grid in Florida, keeping them up and running is often as easy as letting the rain fall and scheduling a preventative maintenance check every so often.
For more information or to get started on a PV installation of your own, PPM Solar is your local expert in Florida. Serving Gainesville, Orlando, Tampa, St. Petersburg, Jacksonville, and beyond, contact PPM Solar today for questions, a free quote, and more.