The Beginner’s Guide to Solar Maintenance
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While solar panels can come with a high entry cost, they are considered a great investment. They help to decrease the overall carbon emissions a house generates and also save the homeowner money on energy bills.
In addition, solar panels also have a long life cycle and could provide a home with clean energy for many years. However, do they require maintenance to help achieve this long life span? Here is everything you need to know about solar maintenance.
Do Solar Panels Require Maintenance?
Yes, solar panels require maintenance but much less than other home equipment. Typically, all that is needed is to ensure the panels are clean and there is not a buildup of dust or debris. If the panel is covered with dust, leaves, twigs, snow or any other debris, it can hinder the performance and shorten the life span.
The reason why solar maintenance is so low is because a panel contains no moving parts. Typically, any object with moving parts requires regular maintenance to ensure everything works optimally. This is why car maintenance is done so frequently.
How Often Is Solar Maintenance Needed?
Due to solar panels only requiring minimal maintenance, they are left alone for the majority of the year. However, some factors can influence this, such as the weather or if the performance is decreasing. Essentially it comes down to where the home is located.
If it is situated in an area where the temperature reaches a high level, more cleaning is needed. This is due to dust that gathers on the panels and hinders efficiency. With areas that receive more rain, less maintenance is required due to the water washing away all of the sand if the panel is tilted.
However, this does not mean that rain is an effective way of cleaning the solar array. After time, grime can start to form and rainwater will have difficulty removing it. Also, if the panels are in a shaded area where trees or buildings surround it, they might require more consistent cleaning or waste removal.
The reason for this is trees can cause fallen debris. If this happens, the waste would need to be removed. Another consideration to consider is if the place where the panels are located is close to busy areas. Constant moving traffic can lift sand and smaller debris into the air, which can land on the solar array. Most manufacturers recommend cleaning them once a year or every six months.
How to Perform Solar Maintenance
In addition to all the other associated benefits of solar energy, the panels are also relatively easy to clean. If the panels are on the roof, ensure you have taken all the necessary safety precautions. Cleaning solar panels are roughly the same as cleaning windows.
Try to use equipment specifically for cleaning panels or ones that will not scratch them. To make the job easier, it might be worth investing in a water-fed pole brush. This brush can help to clean off any grime that has gathered on the panel and also generates water to help with the process.
Most of these poles can also extend, which can come in handy when the home has a sloped roof. It is worth mentioning that these roofs are more challenging to clean and do raise some safety concerns.
After the cleaning is finished, it is recommended to use a squeegee to avoid leaving any residue on the panels. Cleaning ground-mounted solar arrays is even easier because most safety aspects are eliminated. Alternatively, you can hire a professional if the process poses too many safety risks.
Weather Implications on Solar Maintenance
Another reason why solar panels are such great investments is due to how durable they are. They are designed to withstand extreme weather conditions and can even survive hail. Although they are not immune to them and some situations can cause a decrease in performance.
If there is a noticeable fall-off in efficiency after a weather storm, it is recommended to call the company that installed the panel to check if everything is still in working order. One weather condition that can affect performance is high amounts of excess temperature.
However, installers usually take this into account when they mount the panels. To ensure that the solar arrays have adequate airflow, they are typically placed so that there is a small gap where wind can blow through.
The only time that weather has a significant effect on maintenance is if a storm occurs. If this happens, ensure that everything is still working correctly and is not covered in debris. Also, whenever it has snowed, the snow would need to be removed to allow the panel to operate effectively.
Monitoring The Performance and Health of Solar Panels
If there is any change in performance efficiency, it might be time to check on the condition of your panels. Typically this is where they are inspected to ensure they are not covered in debris from trees or dust. If they have been properly cleaned and the performance has still not improved, a professional should be called.
To help with monitoring how the solar panel performs, a solar panel monitoring system can be installed. This allows the homeowner to check on how much energy the panels produce and can help to identify if something is not working as it should. If something is broken, it is always recommended to call your solar installer to fix the problem instead of trying to take matters into your own hands.
The Cost of Solar Maintenance
Generally, the cost of solar maintenance is low, however, there are still some costs to consider. While cleaning them is usually a straightforward process — depending on where they are located — the homeowner might need to purchase the necessary equipment.
In addition, sometimes the person cannot perform the required maintenance due to their age or health conditions and instead, a professional would need to be contacted. While most of these costs are once-off and typically inexpensive, they are worth looking at when considering if solar is right for your home.
Maintaining Solar Panel Health
While solar panels require little maintenance, cleaning them every now and then is still needed to ensure everything is operating smoothly. Always take safety aspects into account when performing this task and make sure you use the appropriate equipment that does not cause any damage to the panel. With adequate care, your home will have clean energy for many years to come.
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About the author
Starting from an early age, Jane Marsh loved all animals and became a budding environmentalist. Now, Jane works as the Editor-in-Chief of Environment.co where she covers topics related to climate policy, renewable energy, the food industry, and more.