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When you start considering having solar panels installed, you will probably have concerns about how much upkeep they need.
Solar panels are somewhat low-maintenance compared to some other household systems; however they still require some maintenance to operate effectively and efficiently over their lifetime.
The good news is that your solar panels can produce sustainable energy for 25–30 years or longer with moderate but regular preventative maintenance.
You’ll maximize the energy production and return on your investment you get from your environmentally friendly solar power system by adhering to the maintenance recommendations.
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How Much Maintenance Do Solar Panels Need?
Solar panels are designed to operate with minimal maintenance for decades. However, to ensure optimal efficiency and performance, some basic care and servicing is required.
The panels themselves are static with no moving parts, so they do not need frequent maintenance. However, it is recommended to visually inspect them once a month to check for any damage or dirt buildup and perform an annual professional inspection and cleaning.
Any debris, dirt or dust on the panels can reduce their efficiency, so keeping them clean is important.
The inverter, which converts the direct current (DC) from the solar panels into alternating current (AC) used in your home, does require occasional maintenance. It is best to have a certified professional inspect it once a year. They will check connections, test components and ensure optimal performance.
If you use batteries to store excess solar energy, they will require the most frequent maintenance. They need to be inspected monthly to check battery levels and connections. Most battery systems will require replacement every 5 to 10 years. Properly maintaining and replacing batteries is key to a well-functioning solar energy system.
Common Solar Panel Maintenance Tasks Explained
To keep your solar panels running efficiently for decades, some basic maintenance is required. Performing the following tasks regularly will help maximize your solar panel system’s performance and return on investment.
Inspecting and Cleaning Solar Panels
It is recommended to visually inspect your solar panels at least twice a year, in the spring and fall. Look for any damage, dirt or debris on the panels and clear it.
Panels can easily get covered in dust, pollen, and bird droppings which will reduce their ability to absorb sunlight. Use a soft brush to gently sweep panels clean and a mild detergent if needed. Take care not to scratch the panels.
Ensure all wiring connections in your solar panel system are securely fastened. Loose or improperly connected wiring is dangerous and reduces efficiency. Tighten any loose nuts, bolts, and terminal screws connecting panels to rails, rails to the racking system, and all wiring connections in the system.
Inverters are responsible for converting the DC power from your solar panels to usable AC power for your home. Inspect inverters for any damage or excess heat which could indicate issues.
Most inverters have built-in self-monitoring that will alert you to any malfunctions. It is still a good idea to physically check inverters yourself to ensure proper operation.
Tips for Keeping Your Solar Panels in Good Condition
To maximize the efficiency and lifespan of your solar panel system, it’s important to properly maintain the panels. While solar panels are low-maintenance relative to other energy sources, some routine care and cleaning will help them function optimally for decades.
Perform regular inspections of your solar panels, inverters, wiring, and mounts. Look for any damage or debris that could impact performance or safety.
Have a professional evaluate the system if you notice any issues. It’s best to inspect the panels at least once every 3-6 months, or more often if your area experiences extreme weather.
Keep your solar panels clear of dirt, leaves, snow, and other debris. Wipe down the panels with a soft cloth, sponge, or brush and water.
For stubborn stuck debris, use a mild detergent. Be very gentle to avoid scratches. Buildup on the panels can reduce energy production by up to 15% per year if left unaddressed.
Check that all wiring and connections are securely fastened and show no signs of damage or corrosion. Have an electrician repair or replace any compromised components immediately.
Ensure all mounts and racking remain properly installed and structurally sound. Secure any loose parts to prevent instability or collapse.
In areas with heavy snowfall, install snow guards or deflectors and frequently remove snow from panels. The weight can damage the panels and mounts, and the snow inhibits light absorption.
Maintaining the solar panel- Final take
Solar panels need maintenance and care to operate properly and optimally, although the average homeowner’s workload is quite low.
Even though solar panels are outside, you can extend their lifetime with routine maintenance (a few times a year cleaning and inspections) to ensure they continue serving you for decades.
Solar panels provide an opportunity to rely less on fossil fuels and minimize energy costs in exchange for time and financial investment.
Although there are always risks associated with new technology, solar energy has been well-established and is still improving in terms of effectiveness, cost, and accessibility.
You can feel confident about using solar energy to power your home if you keep up with the latest recommendations for solar panel upkeep and care.
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