Switching to solar panels is a process, but maintaining solar panels is fairly simple. In this case, solar panels are much like roof tiles. With a little care and regular inspections, your solar panels should last for decades. Here's what you need to know about maintaining your solar panels
Debris can fall on your roof during storms and throughout the fall when trees drop their leaves. During the summer, there is a fair amount of rain. At this time of year, rain naturally washes off solar panels. However, during the rest of the year, we see much less rain and the solar panels can become much dirtier.
In the fall, winter and spring, check your solar panels for debris. If you see debris on your panels, use a hose to spray a strong jet of water. Hopefully you can do this from the ground or from a safe ladder. Don't walk on your roof if you can avoid it; climbing on your roof is dangerous for you and dangerous for your solar panels.
If you have hard water in your house, be aware that frequent cleaning can lead to limescale buildup. Over time, limescale buildup can block sunlight and reduce the efficiency of your solar panels. A test should tell you if your home has hard water, but most of the time, it's easy to tell anyway. If your home has hard water, you'll see scale build up on your home's faucets, dishes and shower doors.
This crusty white film is difficult or impossible to remove with ordinary soap and water. If you don't have a film on your faucets and shower doors, it's unlikely that the water in your home is particularly hard. If your water is hard, you may need to get a water softener before you use your hose to clean your solar panels.
Sometimes, the powerful jet of water coming from your hose is not enough to remove leaves from solar panels. If you need to wipe leaves off your panels, check with your solar panel installer before touching the panels with something like a sponge or rake. Using the wrong cleaning method on your solar panels can cause damage and void the warranty.
Many homeowners use apps on their smartphones or internet portals to check the power output of their solar panels. You don't have to watch your solar panels' activity all the time, but checking their power output regularly makes it possible for you to spot irregularities.
Watch for sudden drops in productivity. You should be able to check each panel individually. Observe each panel to make sure they are producing roughly the same amount of power. A panel that is producing far less than the others may be malfunctioning. Check with your solar panel installation company to find out if there is a problem.
Maintaining the efficiency of your system usually involves exposing your solar panels to as much sunlight as possible, which means eliminating sources of shade. Growing trees are a common problem with residential solar panels.
If you have any large trees in your house, observe the direction of sunlight throughout the day. Notice if your trees keep your panels in the shade. Once you have identified the branches that are keeping your solar panels in the shade, trim those branches. It is best to have these branches professionally trimmed to avoid damage to the tree and to prevent the branches from falling onto your roof.
Trees tend to regrow after pruning, so you may need to repeat this process every few years. Check with your arborist to find out when is the best time of year to prune your trees.
Checking your solar panels regularly can help you spot problems. You can do this during the year when you're working near your roof, such as when you're cleaning gutters or cleaning solar panels. During the inspection, look for cracks, rust or deterioration in and around the solar panels.
After inspecting the panels themselves, go into the attic and check the area directly below the solar panels. Look for any signs of leaks, water damage or mold. If you see anything resembling a leak or mold, contact your solar panel installer as soon as possible. Mold, wood rot and leaks can cause structural damage and make it difficult for your roof to support your panels.
Contact your solar company
With a little work and effort, your solar panels will last 25 years or more. For more information on maintaining your solar panels, contact the experts.
At Sunflower Solar, we're happy to answer all your questions about solar panel maintenance. Contact us today to learn more.