Your guide to solar panel maintenance

solar panel maintenance where a worker cleans the glass

The cost of solar panels has continued to drop over the last few years, making them a viable power source to invest in for your home. However, the price of a system could quickly move up from $2,500, edging closer to $10,000. Given this hefty price tag, the importance of solar panel maintenance can’t be understated. Here’s a brief overview of the general upkeep requirements and what you need to do to stay on top of things.

How much solar panel maintenance is required?

The answer to the question is “minimal.” The typical panel lasts between two to three decades, and since there are hardly any moving parts, the chance of any severe damage happening is almost immediately limited. The principal upkeep task owners will have to worry about is cleaning.

Why is cleaning a necessity?

The installations make use of photovoltaic cells to convert light energy into electricity, and the absorption of light depends on the cells not being covered. Dirt, dust, and debris can easily get caught and cover the cells, affecting the setup’s ability to generate electricity.

Here are some simple steps to ensure your solar panel maintenance checklist is thorough.

  1. If you need a complete starter pack, purchase a cleaning kit which includes a biodegradable soap, a wiper, and a brush. The bundle will have instructions about how the soap is to be used, but most of it is self-explanatory.
  2. It’s easier to clean the surface of the setup when it’s wet and moist, ensuring that dirt isn’t stuck or cemented in certain areas.
  3. Do not use rough sponges or abrasive soaps. If you scratch the glass on the surface, the photovoltaic cells will get damaged, affecting the setup’s ability to generate electricity.
  4. If you regularly clean the installation, the entire wiping routine might not be required. Running water over the surface would be more than sufficient in this instance.

Other tips are mostly present to ensure the cleaner’s safety. For example, make sure you use safety ropes and harnesses if you’re handling solar panel maintenance on the roof. Also, avoid washing the setup on warm, sunny days. The panels can get extremely hot, so pouring cold water can affect the glass, or you could end up burning yourself.

The frequency of your cleaning regimen depends on the model you’ve installed. Without a proper routine, your setup could become less efficient by around 15% to 25%, making your investment somewhat of a waste. A less efficient installation creates less electricity, so you’ll have to rely on the power grid more often, extending the payback time for your solar panel. For other factors affecting efficiency, read this Energy Informative article.

How do weather conditions affect upkeep?

The weather is a force that you’ll have to contend with depending on the location. You’ll have to watch out for several key natural elements that can affect the outlook of solar panel maintenance.

  1. In areas experiencing rain frequently, the need for cleaning drops dramatically.
  2. More care and attention will be needed in dry and arid regions since dust and dirt will collect regularly.
  3. Seasonal changes will bring additional upkeep requirements. Panels get covered quite easily during the autumn and winter seasons due to falling leaves and snow.
  4. You might think that hail is a significant threat to your module, but typical models can withstand 25 mm falling at speeds of 23 metres per second.

What’s a typical cleaning schedule?

In Australia, if a module has been installed at an angle greater than 10 degrees, it essentially cleans itself thanks to the average rainfall across the country.

While you can follow the basic steps mentioned above and clean regularly, it is advised that you contact your installer or a cleaning service to carry out solar panel maintenance every 12, 18, or 24 months.

Key takeaways

Given the durability and the static nature of modules, solar panel maintenance is a relatively uncomplicated and inexpensive procedure. This ensures your initial investment of a few thousand dollars won’t be one you come to regret, but certain common sense practices like the ones mentioned above need to be followed.

If you’re planning to purchase a module, head over to our products page for more information.

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