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panels can be a big investment. After all, the average home solar
panel system can cost upwards of $10,000 to install. As a homeowner,
you want to get the most out of your purchase by maximizing the
lifespan and performance of your solar panels.
solar panels are relatively easy to maintain. In fact, you may
not have to do a single thing for years after your solar panels are
panels produce electricity by harnessing the light of the sun and
require absolutely no direct technical upkeep for power generation to
continue. Most solar panels are warrantied to work at large
capacities for a lifespan of 25 to 30 years, with many left
working for a decade beyond that.
course, in the real world, problems do arise that require you to take
action to maintain your renewable energy system. Some solar panels,
or parts of a solar power system, could be defective or fail before
their expected lifecycle. More often than not, however, there are
external circumstances that affect the ability of a solar panel to
perform at its peak capacity.
In this article, we outline the steps you can take to monitor your solar panels performance, maintain your solar panels against third party problems, how to replace defective parts of your solar power system, as well as what to do at the end of the life of a solar panel.
Monitoring Your Solar Panels Performance
upon your particular solar panel system, there could be a few
different ways in which you can monitor the daily performance of your
solar panels. If they are not producing as much electricity as
normal, or if they are not producing any electricity at all, then you
will know that something has gone awry.
Digital Monitoring Platforms
a home solar panel system, most modern installations come equipped
with some sort of monitoring system. Whether this be a website or
an app, if you hired a professional solar installation company to
handle all parts of your system, then you probably have digital
access to see the daily kilowatt production through your solar
Checking Your Meter
you do not have any digital monitoring capabilities for your solar
panels, you will likely still have a meter that feeds the energy to
and from your house to the grid. In the middle of the day, when the
sun is out and your solar panels are producing energy, the number
on your meter will actually go down. If the number on your
utility meter is going up while you should be producing and using
your own solar energy, that means your solar panel system is likely
not working at all.
Checking Your Electric Bills
of the worst ways to find out that your solar panels may need
maintenance is on your electric bills. If your bill has gone way up
due to the fact that your solar panels weren’t producing as much
energy as they should, then you’ll want to fix that problem
How to Monitor Your Off-Grid Solar Panel System
your solar panels are not connected to the grid, in a cabin or a
vehicle, there are a few ways for you to check to see if your solar
panels need maintenance.
you have a charge controller, there may be an LED screen that shows
the solar electricity input your system is producing. Obviously, if
it is not detecting any or less power, something may be amiss. If
your charge controller does not have a monitoring system, then you
may not know your panels are not performing until you’ve drained
your battery and it is no longer charging as usual.
Replacing Parts of a Solar Energy System
your solar panels are not producing any energy at all, then it is
likely that you will have to replace a part of the system. This is
quite common, as there are many parts of the solar power system that
can become damaged or broken due to internal ware or external forces.
Replacing Your Solar Inverter
of the most common causes for solar panel system failures is a
defective inverter. These high powered devices are responsible for
converting the DC power produced by your solar panels to usable AC
electricity. Inverters are rated to have a lifespan of about ten
years. Therefore, it is very likely that you will replace your
inverter at least one time during the entire life of your solar
you need to replace your inverter, it is highly recommended that it
is done so by a master electrician. Electricity is dangerous, and if
it is approached incorrectly, could be fatal. Before performing any
sort of maintenance on your solar panels, it is crucial that you
temporarily shut down your entire home’s electricity.
Replacing a Solar Panel
your system is producing less electricity than normal, it is possible
one of the solar panels has failed, as they operate completely
independently of one another. With the proper monitoring system in
place, most electricians should be able to identify which solar panel
is no longer working.
it is highly recommended that the original installer, if available,
handle all subsequent part replacements for your solar system. If
you do not have electrical experience, do not attempt to replace one
of your solar panels.
Replacing Extraneous Solar Parts or Wiring
is a good idea to inspect your system every few years if you suspect
that your solar panels are underperforming. Sometimes, the metal
railings and brackets that keep the solar panels in wires in place
may become rusty or corroded. Deprecating parts should be replaced.
wiring of a system is perhaps the most susceptible to external
damage. Although most of the electrical work is protected by a metal
conduit, weather or pesky critters can damage and break pieces of
crucial material. Keeping an eye on the state of your entire system
is a good habit to develop while your system is producing energy.
What is the Best Way to Clean Your Solar Panels?
solar panels is perhaps the only true maintenance that many solar
panel owners may have to consider throughout the system’s 30 year
is extremely popular in warm areas that receive a lot of sunlight
throughout the year. Unfortunately, places like the Southwest of the
United States are so dry that infrequent rains cause a significant
amount of dust and debris to build on top of solar panels.
thin layer of particles on top of your solar panels will affect the
power output they are capable of. Just like in the sense that solar
panels are still able to produce electricity on a cloudy day, dust
and debris on top of your system will cause its performance to
Hire a Solar Panel Cleaning Company
absolute best way to clean your solar panels is to hire a company
to do it. In areas with lots of solar, there are many companies
who specialize in cleaning your solar panels on a recurring basis.
Although you will have to pay for their services, the cleaning will
pay for itself with the increased output of your solar panels on your
Let Mother Nature Do Her Job
you do not want to hire a solar panel cleaning company, you can still
take matters into your own hand. In areas with frequent rains, most
solar panel cleaning takes care of itself. Heavy downpour can
easily wash away any built up residue on your rooftop electricity
Spraying Water on Solar Panels
lieu of heavy rainstorms, your garden hose will do just fine.
Although it will not be in quite as good detail as a proper
professional cleaning, spraying down your solar panels with the
water from your garden hose is plenty sufficient to keep your
panels dirt free.
How to Remove Snow From Solar Panels
some parts of the United States, like Colorado, the sunshine is
delivered in between days of heavy snow. If your solar panels are
covered in snow, it is unlikely they will be producing electricity
at all, as they are completely absent from sunlight. Again, you have
a few options to consider if your solar panels are covered in snow.
Wait It Out
average roof in the United States is going to have a slope of about
20 degrees. Unlike the staggered placement of roof shingles designed
to prevent snow from sliding off, most solar panels are smooth and
slick enough for snow to slide off. Therefore, with a little bit
of sunlight to help it melt, the snow covering your solar panels will
likely slide off within a few days of the snowfall.
Take Matters into Your Own Hands
industry experts do not recommend that you attempt to clear the snow
off of your solar panels, as it can become harmful to the system as
well as potentially endangering yourself. With that in mind, there
are some people who rely on their solar energy and need solutions to
remove the snow.
are products available online referred to as “roof rakes” that
are designed to remove snow from hard to reach places. Using one of
these on your solar panels would be a relatively easy way to remove
in with dust and debris, others have had success with spraying the
snow with water in order to speed up the melting process. This
should only be done if the temperature outside is above freezing, as
spraying water could create problems with the development of ice on
Keeping Solar Panels Free of Birds and Other Animals
one of the most common solar panel maintenance necessities in the
world is keeping the solar panels free of birds or other animals that
can tamper or damage the system.
Due to their shady covering, solar panel systems make for the perfect habitats for birds, squirrels, opossums, and other animals to nest. In fact, the soy-based wire coating commonly used in solar installations may actually attract unwanted critters, as it tends to emit a vanilla-like smell during the heat of the day.
these reasons, it is strongly suggested that solar panels be
installed with a solar screen, also known as critter guard, in
order to prevent animals from nesting and accessing the area below
your system. In doing so, the added protection will prevent
additional maintenance from being required somewhere down the line.
What to Do When Your Solar Panels No Longer Work
all good things must come to an end. If your solar panels are now
performing at below 80 percent capacity after 25 years and you are
ready to replace them with newer, better panels, then you will want
to seek out the proper way to dispose of your solar panels.
almost all the material in modern solar panels can be recycled.
Solar panels are primarily made up of glass, plastic, and aluminum
which are all substances that are regularly recycled today.
with today’s technology, about 85% of the silicon wafers that are
used to generate electricity within the panels can be recycled and
reused in the next generation of solar panels. Failure to properly
dispose of solar panels is slowly becoming penalized in different
regions of the world, as keeping renewable energy sustainable is
extremely important in reducing carbon emissions.
hope this guide was able to explain some of the ways to identify and
resolve issues surrounding the maintenance of your solar panels.
Thankfully, by purchasing solar panels you have already done most of
the work in generating clean, renewable energy for the next thirty
years or so.
all of the services readily available, if you are planning to clean
or repair any part of your solar panel system, it is widely
recommended that you seek out a professional before potentially
causing harm to the system or yourself.