Most homeowners who install solar panels onto their houses do it to save money on their monthly energy expenses. This eco-friendly energy source can provide abundant savings over time despite the upfront cost.
Since solar panel systems don’t have any mechanical moving parts, they require relatively little upkeep. Still, your equipment needs routine maintenance to keep your panels running at optimal performance.
Failure to maintain the panels and monitor their performance can cost homeowners hundreds of dollars a month due to low energy yield or premature mechanical failure. Follow these five preventative maintenance tips for your home’s solar panels to ensure your system runs the best it possibly can.
1. Have a Technician Perform an Annual Inspection
A professional technician should inspect your setup every year. The annual inspection is a critical step in solar panel upkeep. During the examination, the technician will conduct an extensive test of all electrical and mechanical components, including:
- Evaluating the panels physically for hail, limb, or other damage
- Inspecting the inverter and performing routine maintenance tasks per manufacturer requirements
- Examining hundreds of electrical connections in the solar array to make sure that each of the points connecting the panels to the inverters is sound and has not come loose
- Examining the utility meter hookup to ensure power is delivered efficiently from the inverter
Having a technician come out to review your entire system will ensure that your panels produce as much power as possible. This inspection can also prevent minor, hidden issues from becoming critical failure points.
2. Ensure the Panels Receive Adequate Sunlight
While installers set up panels under optimal conditions for catching sunlight, this situation can change over time. One common issue is that tree limbs can grow out and block sun rays from reaching the panels. If you have trees near your house, you will need to monitor their limb growth and keep them trimmed away from the panels.
Other environmental conditions can also limit the amount of sunlight that hits the panes. For example, many homes receive ample snowfall during the winter. You might be tempted to shovel off snow caked onto your panels, but you must avoid doing this. It’s too easy to damage the glass, and removing the snow might void your warranty. Instead, let the snow melt and slide off on its own.
3. Clean Your Solar Panels One to Three Times a Year
If your house receives a lot of rain and little debris, you might only need your panels cleaned off once a year. The less rain you receive, or the more debris cakes the panels, the more often they require cleaning. This means that solar panels need to be cleaned one to three times a year in most situations.
Factors such as the degree of your roof’s slant, your home’s height, and the size of the system influence the cost of cleaning the panels. A professional cleaner will be able to remove debris with the proper tools and wash the panels with safe soap to prevent harm to the equipment. They can also assess for present damage and recommend the next steps.
If you decide to do the cleaning yourself, call your solar panel system installers so they can advise you on best practices. You do not want to void the warranty on your system with improper cleaning methods.
Be sure to follow best cleaning practices to avoid scratching or leaving streaks, both of which would limit the amount of light your panels can absorb. And just as professional cleaners wear safety gear, you should also follow proper safety protocols when cleaning your panels.
4. Monitor Your Inverter and kWh
A solar panel inverter converts your solar panels’ electricity into the electricity your electrical grid uses. Inverters respond to changes in voltage or frequency differently depending on their programming. For example, some inverters will stay on during minor disruptions but automatically disconnect from the grid and shut down during more significant disruptions.
Inverters also provide an easy way to monitor how well your system functions. Your inverter displays warning lights when it detects an issue. Often, inverters will reset themselves in response, but sometimes you’ll need to shut down your system manually. But suppose you see your inverter displaying an error light for an extended time. In that case, you should reset it per your system’s instructions.
Monitoring your system’s kWh will help you notice a drop in power output. Schedule a service appointment before the problem becomes more costly if that happens. Follow the maintenance guidelines from your panel manufacturer to determine time intervals and comply with your warranty.
Over time, you’ll better understand how your system functions in different conditions and set your baseline of expectations. You can compare current output to previous weeks or months, or sunny days to overcast days, and clearly understand how your system saves you money. If your panels are new, compare your output to your provider’s monthly estimate.
5. Consider Installing Critter Guards
Check for animal inhabitants whenever you do a ground-level visual inspection of your solar setup. Birds, rodents, and other small animals like to burrow and nest in tight spaces, making the space under your panels ideal for their future home. If an animal chews on wiring, it can cause electrical issues.
Animals might also leave droppings or other debris on or around panels. By preventing animals from setting up camp under your panels, you’ll avoid dirty buildup on the panels and keep them optimized for collecting sunlight.
To prevent animals from reaching the space under the panels, you can install a metal screen called a critter guard. This preventative maintenance tip for your home’s solar panels also prevents flammable materials like sticks from building up under the wires and causing a potential fire hazard.
Choose a Dependable Installer
Following these tips will help you keep your system in top shape. Each of these measures takes very little time and helps you save money.
For professionals you can depend on for the lifetime of your solar panels, choose reliable solar panel system installers. Go Solar Power is a family-owned company that can help you reduce your power bill and protect your home from power losses. Contact us today to discuss your solar needs.