Often, people ask about how much maintenance is needed for their new solar panel systems, and the truthful answer is: not very much! One of the big advantages of solar panels is that they require very little maintenance, since they have no moving parts. Project Solar always recommends that you get your solar panels serviced by professionals, but there are small things you can do to keep your system running at maximum efficiency.
Inspect your system regularly
Animals could potentially decide that the best home for them is to nestle between the space between solar panels and the roof, as a by-product of the solar panels producing electricity is giving off heat. A perfect respite for pigeons, squirrels, and other smaller creatures. You can opt for solar panel mesh when getting your panels installed, which blocks off this space and prevents any unwanted debris from animals living there from harming your panels. You can also buy this separately and install it yourself.
Clean your solar panels
With solar panels not having any moving parts, an important factor in solar panel maintenance is to ensure that no debris has fallen and built up on the surface of the panels. This includes material such as branches, leaves, pollen, and dirt. When panels accumulate a level of debris, it prevents the direct sunlight that solar panels need to be able to produce electricity, negatively affecting the efficiency of your system.
If you are going to try to wipe any debris off of your panels, it’s very important to be mindful not to scratch the glass that encases the solar cells. The best solution to clean the panels is rubbing alcohol dissolved in water, and make sure to pair this with a soft cloth to ensure that no scratches are left on the panels. Scratches on the glass can again limit the amount of sunlight that reaches the solar cells, which is what you need to avoid.
For your safety, use a wiper with a long handle to clean panels when on the ground. If you have to access the panels via the roof then ensure you use adequate safety equipment such as a harness and extra grippy shoes – the roof can become wet after you clean the panels.
Be sure to clean the panels either in the morning or on a cloud-covered, cool day. If you try to clean the panels in the middle of the day, or on a day that is very sunny, you could burn yourself, due to the panels getting very hot during normal function.
Of course, different systems in different parts of the country will be subject to their own weather conditions – take this into account when thinking about how often you may need to clean your system. Once or twice a year is sufficient, but areas where the surrounding environment is full of pollution or tree debris would benefit from cleaning once per season.
The truth is though, your panels may not even need to be cleaned yearly, they’re designed to be self-cleaning anyway (from the rain). You may even live in an area where no bird droppings, branches, leaves, or anything similar will land on your system, and your system could perform optimally for many years. Still, it’s good to take the time to inspect them once in a while, so you don’t suddenly see your energy bills spike when the system performance is seriously affected by all the dirt build up.
Sun and shade check
When your panels are first installed, our solar team will have already identified the best configuration and positioning of your system for maximum energy output for the panels you’re buying. Over the years, however, foliage grows and buildings are erected, which could leave your panels in the shadow of a newly-grown tree branch or new house or block of flats. Therefore it’s another main point in solar panel maintenance to do quarterly reviews of how much direct sunlight your solar panels are receiving. If you discover anything that might prevent your system from benefiting from its full output, you can take action to remove any inhibitors.
How do I know that my solar panels need cleaning?
One obvious answer is by looking at them, but it may not actually be that easy to see the dirt all the way up on a roof if you’re looking at your system from the ground. An easy way to see if your panels are performing to their maximum output when doing solar panel maintenance is to check the solar panel app that would’ve been provided to you upon installation. Here you will be able to check how much energy your system is producing. If, on a sunny day, it is below what you would normally expect, then your system may need a wash.
If you need any advice on cleaning your solar panel system, or want to start your solar journey with Project Solar, contact us today and speak to our specialist advisors.