11 Practical solar panel maintenance tips
Even after investing thousands in a solar panel system that will power your home, there’s still work to do. You will need to spend some time on solar panel maintenance to ensure peak performance and longevity.
Solar panels can provide you with cheap, renewable solar energy for the next 25 years or more. You can even sell excess energy back to the grid via the Smart Export Guarantee scheme.
But, you might wonder if you need to maintain them? Or are they always in prime condition? You probably have a few other questions about maintaining your solar panels.
Within this article, you’ll discover answers to the most common solar panel maintenance questions. So, let’s go!
Do solar panels need to be maintained?
Solar panels generally require very little maintenance. So, you should be able to leave them alone and have them function as expected. That said, they need a periodic light cleaning to ensure dirt, leaves, and other debris aren’t obstructing the sun’s rays.
The only time you may need more extensive maintenance is during periods of heavy snowfall, as inches of snow can hinder the performance of solar panels. As heavy snowfall is rare in most parts of the UK, you should be fine.
As an investment, you want to check your solar panels once or twice a year to ensure they continue to add value to your home.
It is possible to monitor your solar panels’ health?
You can monitor the energy output of your panels using an app. So, you can see if the output starts to drop. A lower energy output could be a sign that your panels are obstructed by something, like debris, and can’t generate the amount of electricity they should.
You can integrate a solar panel monitoring system into your setup as this will allow you can track how much energy your panels produce each day and over a set period.
So, you can see exactly how various external factors affect your panels’ performance and how well they maintain their efficiency throughout their life. Another benefit of a monitoring system is it will alert you if a panel breaks or malfunctions so that you can repair or replace it.
What are the basics of solar panel maintenance?
There’s good news if your panels are tilted. Any rainfall will wash away any debris that’s accumulated on them. However, during dry seasons or extended periods without rain, it’s important to clean them manually.
Ideally, you should clean your solar panels between two and four times per year. Cleaning does involve basic solar panel maintenance, such as checking they are still secure and none are damaged.
If this sounds like a load of work, don’t worry as there’s not a lot of cleaning involved. You can quickly clean your solar panels with a leaf blower or a quick spray with a garden hose. Doing this will keep them in top condition.
If you have a heavy snowfall in winter, you might need to clean them. You can use lukewarm water and a squeegee with a long handle to clear away the snow.
Never use hot water when clearing snow off the panels. As they are made of tempered glass, being exposed to a sudden change in temperature (hot water on cold panels) can crack them.
Should you maintain ground-mounted panels vs. rooftop panels differently?
In short, no. The only real difference between ground-mounted and rooftop solar systems is that ground panels are easier to access and keep clean. If you notice a build up of snow or other debris, you can simply sweep it off with a soft-bristled broom.
Cleaning tips for solar panel
Solar panel cleaning kits
They come in very handy for cleaning solar panels. Inside the solar panel cleaning kit, you will find a biodegradable soap, a wiper, and a small brush or brush with a longer handle.
Mix the soap in the bucket with water and follow the instructions on the bottle. Dip the brush in the bucket and begin gently wiping the solar panels. Next, use plain water or a soft brush to remove any grime or dirt that has built up on the panels.
Never use an abrasive sponge or soap
Both could scratch the glass. The best way to clean solar panels is using a soft rag or biodegradable soap. It is important not to use harsh materials when cleaning solar panels as they could cause damage, and solar panels are costly to repair.
Try using a hose
If you clean often, you might be able to just run a hose along the panels to remove any dirt. Fewer calls on solar panel maintenance. For your safety and the safety of others around you, use a long-handled wiper to clean the panels and stay grounded.
If you must go on the roof
Take proper care as once you begin cleaning, the roof becomes slippery, and you could slide off when you get down, so use safety ropes or a harness for support.
Always watch out for dirt
Ensure dirt doesn’t build up since they can absorb sunlight better when they are free of dirt.
What impact does extreme weather have on solar panels?
Solar panels are designed to be durable. Top-quality solar panel installations allow PV systems to withstand all kinds of weather, including wind, rain, snow and more.
While they aren’t 100% indestructible, they can likely survive all weather bar the freak occasions such as hail, hurricanes, tornadoes, or lightning. However, most of these weather types are incredibly rare in the UK.
So, it’s important to be covered by a suitably good warranty that includes repairing or replacing panels damaged by natural causes.
Somewhat ironically, heat is the type of weather that most commonly affects panels. When the temperature gets over 25°C, panels lose efficiency of 1% per degree.
One solution to this issue is to elevate your panels at least 10 cm above the ground or roof. Doing this allows for air circulation, which can help cool them down and maintain energy production.
Your installer will bear local temperatures in mind when positioning your panels to ensure you get the best overall performance from them, no matter the weather or conditions.
Tips for Maintenance of Solar Panels
Keep solar panels out of shade as energy production becomes inefficient when they can’t fully absorb sunlight.
Watch for flashing green lights!
Keep an eye on the solar panels and ensure the inverters are flashing green lights. If they are not flashing, you are losing money by no longer compensating for your electricity use.
Document daily performance to improve solar panel maintenance
It is important to write down how much energy has been produced at a consistent time every day. Note down dates where it is very cloudy. Some of the results will be inconsistent, but overall there will be trends.
Know your environmental benefits
Monitoring systems help you see how much you’re benefiting the environment and how much CO2 you emit into the atmosphere. They can also help you know how much you could benefit from the feed-in tariff scheme.
Watch your display and app
Your wall-mounted display and app will show you information about when your solar panels need servicing.
Don’t have time to clean?
If you don’t have time to clean your solar panels, you can install automated cleaners that work like sprinkler systems or even schedule appointments with solar panel cleaning companies.
Can you repair or replace solar panels?
If your panels need to be repaired or replaced, it’s best to hire a professional. Don’t attempt either yourself as you might damage the surrounding units or void your warranty.
If they’re losing efficiency and still under warranty, call the company that installed your panels. They will send someone to assess the situation and either fix the problem or replace the panels.
If your panels have sustained physical damage, again call the company that installed them. They will be able to provide a solution. Plus, in the UK, your installer is legally required to recycle your solar panels when they break or die.
What is the standard warranty for solar panels?
It is important to ensure that your solar panels come with a good warranty. A reputable installer will give you a warranty of between 10 and 20 years.
If your solar panels’ efficiency does start to decrease, it can potentially cost you thousands of pounds over the years. However, if your solar panel is covered under a warranty, your dealer should provide a replacement.
The company who installed my solar panels has stopped trading and I need help
Sadly, businesses close down all the time. However, you don’t need the company that installed your solar system to maintain them. Many installers offer various solar maintenance packages that are available to any homeowner with a solar system.
It doesn’t matter who your original installer was, as any competent business will be able to help you solve any solar problems you encounter. Plus, by having options you can ensure value for money and a timely service.
How often should I have my solar panels cleaned?
You should have your solar panels cleaned once a year to ensure they are free from debris and are working to maximum efficiency. If you live in a rural area, your solar panels are likely to attract more dust and may require more frequent cleaning.
When’s the best time of year to have your solar panels cleaned?
The ideal time to have your solar panels cleaned is the Spring, in the run up to the summer months when your solar panels will work the hardest. Typically, cleaning your solar panels can increase efficiency by 10-20%. So it’s worth doing at least once per year.
How much will it cost to have my solar panels cleaned?
The cost will vary depending on the size of the installation and how accessible the panels are. Any reputable company will visit to look at your system and provide a tailored quote. So, it’s worth getting 2 or 3 quotes before you pick an installer to carry out any solar maintenance.
Most installers offer cleaning, servicing, and cleaning and servicing packages. So, if all you need is your panels cleaned with de-ionized water, you can and the cost will be fairly affordable.
If you need someone to check your system and visually inspect your panels, a servicing package is your best option to ensure your solar system is well maintained. A solar maintenance package will cost more than cleaning but will protect your investment.
That’s the basics of solar panel maintenance
Maintaining solar panels is pretty easy. If you notice dust, debris or snow piled up, a quick clean will ensure that your panels operate effectively. Ensure you get a good warranty, so if your panels get damaged or break, they get replaced.
With a little time invested in essential solar panel maintenance, your system should continue to operate at peak efficiency, bringing you clean, renewable solar power for years to come.