How To Effectively Operate And Maintain Your Solar Panels?
March 22, 2019
The importance of solar energy is been widely accepted. I guess there is no need to tell you the benefits of solar energy. From save your electricity bills to reducing our carbon footprint, solar energy is proving to be a boon for mankind. The latest technologies and the way government is pushing solar energy, the future is not far when a rooftop solar panel is found on every household and commercial property.
One of the reasons why solar energy is so popular among the common folk is that it is cost friendly and easier to maintain than other renewable or non-renewable sources. There are no moving parts and hence no wear and tear, the maintenance cost is almost zero. You don’t need to be an expert to take care of your solar panels.
This blog post will outline all the necessary tips and procedures one need to follow to effectively operate and maintain their solar panels.
Even though your solar panels don’t require much maintenance it is always better to be on the safe side. The solar installation is a onetime activity and most solar panels come with a promise of at least 25 years. But with the right maintenance techniques, you can even prolong this warranty.
This blog post includes:
- Caring for your solar panels in all seasons
- How to clean your solar panels?
- What Products Should You Use To Clean Your Solar Panels?
- Solar panel monitoring systems
- Selecting a solar maintenance package
- A Note On Safety While Maintaining And Handling Solar Energy Panels
- Solar Panel Maintenance FAQ’s
Caring For Your Solar Panels In All Seasons
Solar panels generate electricity when sunlight directly hits the solar panels. So any obstruction in the path of sunlight could drastically reduce the efficiency of solar panels. The type of dust or obstruction created depends on your geographical area and the weather condition. We have outlined how to take care of your solar panels in different weather condition.
Maintaining your solar panels in the summer season:
Summer season is when your solar panel will perform its best. However, your solar panels may get covered with dust, animal feces, flowers, plant twigs etc. A rainstorm is usually enough to wash away this dirt. But generally these storms are rare among areas with a tropical climate and hence you need to manually take care of your solar panels.
If you live in a dusty area and not expecting any rain in the near future, you can clean the solar panels by using a garden hose. This is the best option if your solar panels are not situated at a very high location. Make sure that the water you are using is soft or it may corrode your solar panel accessories and even cause scaling on the panels.
If pollen, dust or animal feces is a recurring issue in your area, you can install a rooftop water sprinkler which automatically maintains the solar panel’s cleanliness by pouring water on a regular time interval. Install this under the guidance of an expert and make sure that it doesn’t affect the working of the solar system.
Maintaining your solar panels in fall:
Solar panels will continue generating electricity even in the fall unless it is covered by leaves or other vegetation. This problem is prominent in areas with tall trees and windy climate. But in fall wind can also carry leaves and other materials from far away places.
Fortunately, cleaning leaves is one of the easiest tasks you could do while maintaining your solar panels. If you have proper equipment like rope, broomsticks, ladder etc, you could do this task alone. But before choosing material to clean leaves please ensure that you don’t use material which scratches or damages your solar panel in any way.
Maintaining your solar panels in Winter:
For areas with high chances of snow could cause some serious troubles with solar panels. Regular snow removal can be difficult, so you need some different methods to deal with these obstructions. Most of the times the snow melts on its own in a day or two due to sunlight or heat trapped in the house. You need to tilt your solar panels for about 15 degrees to make this happen easily. In case it the snow doesn’t melt in time, you can use a snow rack to clear the solar panels.
Too much ice build up could threaten your solar system an also your rooftop. Chances of leakages, water penetration in the roof or even structural damages to the solar panels. Some even recommend using salt to melt the snow, but you should definitely avoid it since it may corrode the solar panel equipment. It is better to consult a professional to avoid any long term damages.
Besides these kinds of situations, you should never worry about the structural integrity of your solar panels. They are laboratory tested for various climatic conditions including storms and hailstorm.
What Products Should You Use To Clean Your Solar Panels?
One thing you should consider while cleaning solar panels is that using wrong products may damage your solar panels and decrease solar efficiency. It is best to approach solar panel cleaning with some information on your hand. Warm water with dish soap is the safest way to clean and maintain your solar panels. Make sure to use a sponge to remove the dirty water. Avoid scratches on your solar panel at any cost.
If your solar panels are stained with oil or grease you can use isopropyl alcohol and a rug. Avoid using any strong chemicals or fluids as it may cause abrasions on the panels.
Solar Panel Monitoring System
A solar monitoring system helps you monitor the performance of your solar panel. It offers useful information like energy usage, energy generation and damages to your solar systems. It is very important to keep a close eye on these parameters and monitor your solar setup.
This is a very helpful tool in maintaining your solar panel and figure whether your solar panel is functioning as expected.
How solar monitoring works:
Solar monitoring systems work through the inverters. Solar energy companies while installing your solar panels also install a solar inverter. An inverter is a device which converts Direct current into the alternating current of our household appliances work on alternating current. These inverters are also coupled with monitoring setups.
As your solar inverters convert DC into AC it records the amounts of power generated and the amount of consumed by the utilities. This information is fed to the cloud and you can access it via an mobile app.
Most monitoring systems can even work offline and you can access this data even when you not connected to the internet.
Aside from displaying energy charts, solar monitoring offers many tools to help you maintain your solar panels. Monitoring software often can help detect problems and defects with panels, and recommend repairs to your setup. You can often also track historical data from your system. For example, monitoring systems offer data on historical weather-based performance, so you can know how the weather has impacted your solar production in the past, and what you might expect in the future.
Selecting a Solar Maintenance Package
Solar maintenance packages are equivalent to your ‘home insurance’. The way your home insurance covers any accidental damages that occur to your house, in the same way, solar maintenance packages will help you cover losses occurred during the operations and maintenance of solar panels.
If your solar is underperforming whether due to environmental, equipment or any reason. The repair cost can be covered using solar maintenance packages to repair whatever part of your solar panel is damaged. Regular maintenance of solar panels is hence necessary to benefit from this scheme.
Benefits of solar maintenance packages:
When you buy a solar maintenance package, besides covering the repair costs it has several other benefits including:
solar maintenance packages include the solar panel experts to visit your site regularly and perform physical checkup of your solar system. From these site visits, you will be able to diagnose problems with your solar panels and fix them to return the performance back to normal.
One of the most threatening problems occurs when birds build a nest in your solar panel. This may cause electrical and equipment damage. The solar maintenance packages include pest controls in their plan and many other measures to counteract this problem.
Solar Panel Cleaning:
Some time solar panel cleaning could get tedious and it gets difficult to do the task on your own. Solar maintenance packages include scheduled cleaning option and take the burden off your shoulders. They have a clear understanding of what solar panels are made off and use proper materials for cleaning.
Electrical system check:
Any damages to electrical systems could damage the performance and efficiency of solar panels. Since solar panels face various weather conditions, periodic checking of electrical systems is necessary. The solar maintenance plan checks the overall working of the electrical circuit.
Maintaining your Solar Inverters:
Your solar inverter has less life than that of your solar panels and hence requires constant maintenance. Solar maintenance will help you give special attention to monitor the health of your inverters.
Sometimes a natural calamity could cause havoc in your area and destroy the structural integrity of the solar energy panels. Solar maintenance packages include the promise of delivering highly professional experts which help you maintain your solar energy panels and prevent unnecessary damage.
Importance of Solar Maintenance Packages
Since solar is a high one time investment, proper maintenance is necessary to keep it functional for a longer period of time. Your solar installers business depends on new customers and hence they may not pay attention to the recurring damages on the other hand if you purchase a solar maintenance package it becomes the duty of your solar company to fulfill all your demands. This way it is easier for you to maintain the solar panel and repair the damages before they get too costly.
Maintenance of residential and commercial solar PV systems vary in size of specifics, performance and efficiency. As a result, the logistics and plan for commercial and residential solar may vary. Commercial solar users should definitely buy a maintenance package since the loss they face may be greater than those of residential solars.
A Note On Safety While Maintaining And Handling Solar Energy Panels
Most solar panels are connected to various electrical equipment and any maintenance possess hazardous situations. Never attempt to repair any component by yourself, its too dangerous. Contact a certified installer and electrician while dealing with any electrical maintenance work. Solar maintenance should be carried out with proper tools in the presence of highly skilled labors.
More than anything consider your personal safety first. Do not visit the site of your solar panels after a storm or heavy rainfall. The electrical components are so dangerous to handle for any amateur and you should always contact an certified expert to deal with such situations.
Solar Panel Maintenance FAQ’s
Before you buy solar energy panels, there are a few questions you may ask your dealer about solar panel maintenance. This checklist will give you a brief idea about what you can expect from your solar dealer.
- Is the remote monitoring part of the buyer’s contract?
- How often is the maintenance scheduled?
- What are the solar panel components included in the maintenance checklist?
- Is there any event related inspections? For example, inspection after a storm breakout in the area.
- Is there any emergency services in case of partial or complete failure of the solar component?
- What is the cost of the solar maintenance contract/
- What is the duration of the solar maintenance contract?
- What is the cost of solar panel cleaning?
- Is there any extended warranty on solar inverters?
- Does the solar panel company bear the cost even for inverter repairs?
- How fast can the inverted repairs be done?
- Do the solar maintenance packages cover the failures of solar panel?
- Is there any extended warranty in the solar maintenance packages?
- Is the solar panel maintenance covered by your own dealer or a third party is involved?