The basics for maintaining solar panels
Here are a few tips and tricks regarding maintaining solar panels throughout the year. If your panels are tilted, rainfall will clear away debris that has accumulated on them. During a dry spell, it is important to clean them manually. In the winter, you may need to clean your panels after a heavy snowfall.
Before you do anything else, shut down your solar system. Turning them off (and on) is very easy. There is an exterior switch located right near the meter panel. There is electricity and voltage running through the system, so this step is a MUST!
It is best to clean your solar panels from the ground to avoid the risk associated with climbing a ladder. You’ll need a good quality soft brush and a squeegee with a long extension pole. The ideal tool is a squeegee with a plastic blade on one side and a cloth-covered sponge on the other. Use a hose with a nozzle that allows the stream of water to reach the panels.
When to clean
Choose an overcast day, early in the morning or in the evening to clean your solar panels. If the sun is beating down on the panels, water will quickly evaporate, and dirt will become smeared.
What to use
Avoid using detergents as these can streak the glass panels. Abrasive products or harsh chemicals can scratch the panels. You can use a mild dish detergent if just water is not enough. If your water is hard, be sure to squeegee the panels dry as mineral-rich water can form deposits on the glass as it dries.
If you live in an area with lots of pine trees or you are located near an airport or close to a highway with truck traffic, your panels may suffer from a build-up of oily stains. In this case isopropyl alcohol can be used on these stains.
Remember: Don’t use any type of coarse scrub brush or abrasive or corrosive cleaning solution like bleach when cleaning your solar panels.
Solar panels survive extreme weather.
With today’s technology, solar panels have been designed to be durable. They can withstand all kinds of weather, from wind and rain to snow and more extreme conditions.
According to the Department of Energy, solar panels can survive hurricanes, as evidenced by the limited damage to solar systems in North Carolina during Hurricane Florence in 2018.
They are not 100% indestructible, however; on rare occasions they can suffer damage by tornadoes, hurricanes, hail, or lightning. Ironically, the type of weather that most commonly affects panels is heat. When the temperature rises over 77 degrees Fahrenheit, panels lose efficiency to approximately 1% per degree. At Golden Group Roofing, we properly install the solar panels, elevating them a few inches above the roof to allow for air circulation, which helps cool the panels and maintains energy production.
Other maintenance requirements
Monitoring your solar system is important to be sure it is operating efficiently. Our team at Golden Group monitors every one of the solar systems they install on a monthly basis. We check our master portal to be sure all systems are green and that the monitors are working properly. We also check to make sure no panels are damaged or have stopped producing.
That being said, we recommend that homeowners monitor their own panels as well on a monthly basis. Each homeowner receives a login at the time of install completion so they can monitor to be sure everything is running smoothly.
- Watch to see that the inverters are flashing green lights. If they are not flashing, you are losing money by no longer compensating you for your electricity use.
- Make sure to document your daily solar system’s performance by writing down how much energy has been produced. Do this the same time every day and make special notes of dates when the sky is very cloudy. You might consider installing a monitoring system for your solar panels.
Since solar panels have no moving parts that can be affected by rust or break-down, maintenance may not be needed, but monitoring can inform you of any reduction in efficiency that may indicate a problem.
A checklist for maintaining solar panels:
- Shut down your solar system prior to any maintenance or cleaning.
- Review the maintenance guidelines from the manufacturer of your solar panels.
- Check that your solar panels are secure, have no corrosion, and are in good condition.
- Monitor and record the solar electric power that is being generated.
- Inspect the panel wiring for any damage.
- Make sure that the isolator switches have clear access.
- Check to be sure there are no electrical problems with the inverter panel.
- Maintain a logbook with dates of record maintenance work and solar panel cleanings
Contact Golden Group Solar with any questions about maintaining solar panels
If you discover any concerning issues with your solar panel system, contact your solar contractor. They can arrange for a comprehensive inspection and assessment. Avoid letting a minor issue become severe by contacting your solar contractor if you suspect any problems or have questions.
If you have questions about maintaining your solar panels throughout the year or are thinking about adding a solar system to your roof, call us at 508-873-1884. Or schedule a one-hour solar consultation with one of our roofing experts.