Solar Panel Maintenance 101: Unveiling the Secrets to Prolonged Efficiency

February 6, 2024

Exploring sustainable and alternative energy? Perhaps you’ve recently set up those shiny solar panels and are curious about maintaining their pristine condition. Over time, solar panels have proven to be an efficient means of generating clean power for both residential and commercial purposes. Yet, maintenance of solar panels and maximization of their electricity output requires consistent upkeep.

This guide delves into the must-known details of solar panel maintenance and highlights its importance. Moreover, it will equip you with the essential knowledge to preserve your solar energy system in a pristine condition.

The Significance of Solar Energy Maintenance

Do solar panels require maintenance if they are a kind of outside thing? In effect, they do.

While solar panels are crafted to endure different weather conditions and come with warranties lasting 20–25 years, neglecting proper upkeep frequently results in decreased efficiency and overall performance deterioration. This decline may lead to diminished energy production and a potential shortage of solar panels’ lifespan. Furthermore, it may void your warranty.

However, the good news is that solar panels need relatively little upkeep as they mostly “care for themselves.” Consistent solar panel maintenance helps to get the most out of your green energy investment. Below you will find the top benefits of solar panel service.

  1. Enhanced efficiency: Pristine panels show the best productivity when transforming sunlight into electricity  Collected dust, dirt, and debris on the surface obstruct sunlight, which in turn, diminishes energy output.
  2. Prolonged lifespan: Regular solar panel maintenance works as a shield against early wear and tear. Protecting solar panels from different outside factors helps to generate electricity over an extended period.
  3. Cost-efficiency: Well-kept solar panels generate more electricity, curbing your energy expenses and speeding up the return on your solar investment. Apart from that, regular checks on your solar system (prevention measures) save money on possible solar panel repair works in the future.

If you read this blog post, we suppose you have a solar system for home use. However, if we are wrong, big panels do not have any special requirements for solar panel maintenance.

The primary distinction between ground-mounted solar systems and rooftop solar systems lies in their accessibility. Ground panels are more easily reachable, which makes them simpler to keep clean. If you notice a layer of snow or debris, a gentle broom can easily sweep it away.

Now that you understand the key advantages of maintenance of solar panels, let’s discuss the best practical ways to keep them working like a charm.

6 Solar Panel Maintenance Tips

For excellent solar panel upkeep, adhere to these thorough solar power maintenance recommendations.

Visual Inspections

It’s the simplest thing you can do to prevent serious issues requiring solar system repair. Follow these steps:

  1. Routinely check your solar panels for physical harm, such as cracks, chips, or loose connections. If you spot any flaws, contact a professional to fix them.
  2. Inspect your solar panels for dirt accumulation or other issues from the ground level, potentially using binoculars for a closer look.
  3. Perform this visual check monthly or after severe weather conditions to make your solar system repair easier.

Visual Inspections

Snow and Ice Removal

The primary concern is that solar panels “hibernate” and cease power generation when covered in snow. Consequently, it leads to a significant drop in energy output during such periods. It is crucial to promptly and safely remove the snow from the panels before ice forms, as the latter hinders the natural sliding off of the snow.

If you reside in a snowy area, clear snow and ice from your solar panels after a storm to ensure they can absorb sunlight effectively. Many residents install special all-weather panels to tackle the issue, making their solar panel maintenance gig much easier. There are specially-made solar panels that can use a small amount of gathered energy to heat the panel’s surface and melt snow before it builds up.

Snow and Ice Removal

Living in a snowy climate? Investing in a solution for clearing snow off your rooftop solar panels is a wise choice. Your solar panel energy efficiency tends to be higher with the all-weather variety.

Cleaning

This is vital for solar panel maintenance. As a rule, solar panels clean themselves every time it rains. Because they are installed at an angle – instead of laying flat – excess water can slide off. After a particularly heavy downpour or storm, however, you might want to check your solar panels for debris, such as branches or twigs. Remove any such items to ensure the optimal efficiency of the solar panels.

Cleaning Solar panel

Keep the surface of your solar panels spick and span by regularly clearing away dust, dirt, bird droppings, and other debris. Opt for cleaning sessions in the morning or evening when the panels are cool to dodge thermal stress.

Here’s a list of necessary steps for the panel cleaning procedure:

Think about safety firstPrioritize your safety before undertaking any cleaning procedure. As solar panels are often installed on rooftops, implement precautionary measures to prevent falls and injuries.

Use a sturdy ladder, wear appropriate footwear, and confirm the roof’s stability before walking on it. If safety is a worry, consider hiring a solar service specialist for the cleaning task.

Cut off the system from the gridBefore cleaning the solar panels, it is crucial to turn off the system to mitigate the risk of electrocution. Locate the main switch or breaker and disconnect the power source from the solar panels. No one wants to get zapped while cleaning!
Examine the solar system conditionInspect the solar panels for any damage, cracks, or loose connections. If you detect any issues, seek professional assistance for solar panel repair before cleaning.
Remove debrisUtilize a soft-bristled brush or a leaf blower to eliminate substantial debris from the solar panels, such as leaves, branches, or bird droppings. Watch out to avoid scratching the panel surface.
Rinse it with waterGently wash the solar panels with water using a garden hose to remove any lingering dust or dirt. Make it a part of your solar panel maintenance.
Let them dry upGently dry the solar panels with a clean, soft towel or allow them to air dry. Avoid using materials that could scratch the panel surface, such as abrasives or rough items.
Power up the systemOnce the panels have dried, reconnect the power source to the solar panels and keep an eye on them to make sure everything’s running smoothly.
Solar cleaning worker

How often should solar panels be cleaned? Usually, people clean solar panels 2-3 times a year. However, it also depends on your location. If you live beside a road with heavy traffic or a construction area, your panels will be covered with dust more often. So, more regular cleaning is crucial for your solar servicing routine.

Tightening Up Bolts And Screws

Solar installations involve a substantial number of bolts and screws. Over time, temperature fluctuations cause contraction and expansion, which result in these fasteners becoming loose. As part of your routine solar panel maintenance, thoroughly inspect all screws and bolts to make sure they are securely fastened. You may use a torque wrench if necessary to tighten them.

People do this not only because of mere aesthetics. Fastening the solar system bolts prevents a decline in overall performance. Moreover, loose connections might facilitate the lifting of panels by strong winds (in a worst-case scenario). It may also lead to potentially needed solar panel repair if left neglected.

For ground-mounted solar panels, check them for stability. Give them a little nudge, and if they’re swaying, it’s time to bring back the stability. For instance, you can add more stakes or water barrels to weigh down the base.

Tightening Up Bolts And Screws

However, if you are not sure how to fix particular unstable parts, better reach out to solar service professionals to assist you. Try to have your solar system inspected once a year as a part of your solar panel maintenance routine.

Monitor Inverter Performance

Solar panel maintenance practices include keeping an eye on the inverter regularly for error codes or unusual indicator lights. Such “flaws” may indicate issues that require professional solar panel service. While daily checks are unnecessary, regular monitoring is crucial to detect and address potential problems at an early stage.

If you want to take your solar panel maintenance to the next level, you may set up a solar inverter monitoring system. It interprets all the issues that come up during the solar panel lifespan and can send a notification about them to your smartphone.

Trim Nearby Trees and Vegetation

This is another important part of solar panel maintenance. The amount of sunlight your solar panels “consume” depends on their positioning. As time passes, surrounding trees and vegetation may grow and cast shadows on the panels. Obviously, it diminishes their efficiency.

To counteract this, you should regularly trim trees and vegetation around your house. Not only does the practice preserve optimal energy production, but also fosters a cleaner and more environmentally friendly setting. Repeat it annually or when needed.

How To Know If You Need Solar Panel Repair

While homeowners can handle many solar panel maintenance tasks, some should be left to solar service professionals.

A key signal that your panel might need solar panel repair is a noticeable decline in energy production. If you witness a big drop in the generated electricity compared to previous periods, it may tell you that there’s something wrong.

There are many different causes of solar panels’ inefficiency.

Damaged or Broken Panels

Solar panels are vulnerable to damage from severe weather conditions, falling branches, or accidents. Thereby, you need to replace damaged or broken panels immediately with the help of solar panel repair workers. It should prevent further harm to the overall system.

Wiring Issues

Typically stemming from corrosion, damage, or inadequate installation, wiring issues can disrupt your solar panel setup. In such cases, you should seek the expertise of a solar panel repair professional to identify and address any wiring issues.

Faulty Inverters

Inverters are crucial in converting DC (direct current) electricity from solar panels into usable AC (alternating current) electricity. If the inverter malfunctions, it can lead to underperformance of the whole solar panel system. You should reach out to a solar service professional to diagnose and rectify inverter issues.

Reduced Power Output

Over time, solar panels may start slacking off due to old age, weather beating, and exposure to the elements. You had better seek a solar panel maintenance specialist to diagnose and resolve the issue or consider the replacement of solar panels.

While homeowners can easily tackle basic cleaning and solar panel maintenance, more heavy-duty tasks like replacing damaged panels, sorting out wiring issues, or addressing inverter malfunctions should be conducted by solar service professionals with special training and experience.

Can You Mend Damaged Solar Panels?

Swiftly attending to any damage discovered on solar panels is crucial to solar servicing and prolonging their lifespan. However, the possibility of repairing a damaged solar panel hinges on the nature and extent of the damage. For instance, trivial problems like micro-cracks or wiring issues can generally be fixed by solar panel repair professionals.

Mend Damaged Solar Panels

Source: Los Angeles Times

Conversely, more substantial damage, such as huge cracks or broken cells, may necessitate the replacement of the entire panel. Whatever the case, you’d better consult with a certified solar service technician to evaluate the damage comprehensively and find optimal solutions.

How Much Does Solar Panel Repair Cost?

The average solar panel repair cost is $750 (USD) but can range from $120 to $3,000. The more serious the damage is, the harder it will hit your pocket.

Cleaning solar panels cost and maintenance costs of solar panels are around $8 – 25 (USD) per panel, or $500-700 annually, depending on a few factors (location, number of panels, etc).

Solar Battery Repair Costs

Getting a solar battery back in action varies from $200 to $15,000. Routine minor repairs for solar batteries involve again addressing loose connections, cleaning corrosion, or resolving dryness. However, if the battery reaches a point where it can no longer retain a charge, solar panel repair might not be a viable option. Then, you will need to replace it.

The cost of a replacement battery is influenced by factors such as its kilowatt capacity and the specific style and type of the battery.

Solar Inverter Repair Expenses

When it comes to patching up a wonky solar inverter, the cost of solar repair typically falls within the range of $500 to $3,000. Inverters often face issues with loose connections. Therefore, identifying and fixing these connections can take much time. Moreover, it will add up to the overall solar panel repair costs. String inverters, commonly employed in solar installations, are more prone to requiring repairs due to their configuration.

If the problem doesn’t relate to loose connections, you may need to have the inverter replaced, which obviously leads to a higher solar panel maintenance cost.

Does The Warranty Cover Solar Panel Repair Works?

Ultimately, when it comes to the cost of fixing up your solar panels, the real game-changer is the warranties. Numerous solar panel installation companies offer warranties, and it’s paramount to thoroughly examine the warranty terms provided by the company you choose.

Some of these companies not only cover the panels but also throw in some backup for mounts or inverters. These warranties act as a safeguard for your system, offering protection against various issues (from faulty components to significant damage caused by storms). This proactive approach allows the company to address all issues at a reduced solar panel maintenance cost for you, potentially even covering minor solar maintenance issues without any extra expenses.

Considering inverters, known for their tendency to break, a robust warranty for these components becomes particularly important. By having comprehensive warranties in place, you can eliminate concerns about splashing out money on solar panel repair.

Ensuring the longevity and effectiveness of your solar power system is a priority, and it is possible due to regular solar maintenance and solar panel repair work. Therefore, you need to be sure that you can have solar panels repaired when necessary. Undoubtedly, warranties play a crucial role in this process, guaranteeing financial protection in case of unforeseen issues.

Parting Thoughts On Solar Panel Maintenance

It’s obvious that everyone wants to get the most out of their solar energy investment. For your solar power setup to stay top-notch, you should maintain the longevity and efficiency of your solar panel system with proper upkeep. By sticking to a regular solar panel maintenance routine and tackling issues head-on, you can bask in the advantages of clean, renewable energy for years to come.

Whether you opt for DIY solar panel maintenance or hire a professional, tending to your solar panels helps you save money on solar panel repair.

Jed Hilton

Jed Hilton

Jed Hilton, our Founder and CEO, has over a decade of experience in the solar industry. His innovative leadership and expertise in solar technologies guide our company's vision and strategy.

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