Are solar panels low maintenance?
We hear this question often, so we decided to dedicate a blog to the maintenance of solar panels. Without proper maintenance, solar panel efficiency can significantly decrease and the warranty may even be voided.
Our experts put together a complete guide to solar power maintenance so you can feel knowledgeable and confident when caring for your solar panels.
Maintenance of Solar Panels
1. Create a Solar Power Maintenance Checklist
To ensure you do not miss any steps in solar power maintenance, create a checklist of everything you need to do each month or year. This will keep you on track and ensure nothing gets missed in your records.
A checklist also makes it easy to reference maintenance information if a problem arises with your solar power system and shows proof of regular servicing checks.
You can also check with your solar panel installation company to see if they provide a maintenance plan or have a solar panel service company they recommended.
2. Inspect Your Solar Panels for Debris or Damage Monthly
To keep your residential solar panels working efficiently, give them a quick monthly check for debris, build-up, or dirt. Any built-up debris can block sunlight from hitting the solar cells and negatively impact the system’s efficiency.
Along with making sure your solar panels are clear of debris, check them over for any chips, cracks, or damage. If you notice broken or damaged solar cells, contact the manufacturer immediately for guidance.
3. Document Panel Performance
Keeping track of solar power generation is a key way to ensure your system is running as efficiently as possible. Each month, write down how many kWh your solar power system produces. Make a note of any extreme weather events or any issues, such as shading, debris, or inverter concerns. After a year, use your monthly notes to create an average.
By referencing your notes throughout the year, you can quickly spot any reductions in solar power generation. If you notice an unexplained dip in the average, it is time for a professional assessment to ensure your system is still running properly.
4. Follow the Manufacturer’s Solar Power Maintenance Guidelines
Each solar panel type and brand will have varying instructions for maintenance. Carefully follow the manufacturer’s solar power maintenance guidelines to ensure you do not void the warranty.
Your solar panel manufacturer will provide maintenance information such as:
- How often to clean your solar panels
- What to use to clean solar panels (and what to avoid)
- Whether you can walk on your solar panels
- The amount of weight walkable solar panels can handle
- How often to have your solar panels serviced
5. Check Solar Wiring Regularly
Frayed or damaged solar wiring can put the system at risk of a short circuit. Every 6 months, it is important to check your solar panel wiring for signs of damage or wear.
If you suspect any wiring issues, turn off your solar power system and contact an electrician right away to perform the repairs.
6. Inspect Your Roof
Solar power maintenance is not limited to the solar panels themselves. The roof also needs to be inspected as part of solar panel maintenance.
If your roof fails or is leaking, your solar panels and your home are at risk of expensive damage. Make sure to have your roof regularly inspected to ensure safety and efficiency.
7. Keep Solar Panels Out of the Shade
Check your solar panels regularly to ensure they are not getting blocked by trees or branches. Trim trees as necessary to allow as much sunlight to reach your panels as possible.
If you are dealing with shading issues, call a solar panel service provider for professional help or contact our team for advice.
8. Tighten Screws and Bolts
Temperature changes and time can cause screws and bolts to expand and contract, eventually causing them to loosen. This puts your solar panels at risk of damage and even makes them more susceptible to lifting in the event of high winds.
Check all bolts and screws regularly to ensure they are tight. If you notice any loose bolts or screws, tighten them with a torque wrench. If you are uncomfortable checking the bolts yourself or do not have the necessary safety equipment, contact a professional for assistance.
9. Check the Solar Inverter
To keep your solar power system running efficiently, it is important to check your solar inverter by making sure all the LEDs are green. Occasionally checking your solar inverter can help you catch a minor issue before it causes your inverter to stop working completely. If you notice any issues with your solar inverter, contact the manufacturer immediately.
Solar Panel Maintenance Tips
- Don’t use metal objects, harsh chemicals, solvent-based cleaners, or any abrasive materials as these can damage the solar panels, reduce their efficiency, and even void the warranty.
- Never climb onto your roof without the necessary safety equipment. Unless you have the proper knowledge and equipment, hire a professional to handle any maintenance that involves climbing on the roof.
- If soapy water alone isn’t working to clear your panels of debris, contact a professional solar panel service technician to safely clean your solar panels.
- Do not use a high-pressure washer as it may cause microfractures in the panels and void the warranty (opt for a garden hose instead).
- Rinse off your solar panels immediately to clear away any ash after wildfires.
- Avoid cleaning your solar panels on hot days as it puts the panels at risk of cracks or damage (clean panels in the morning or evenings when temperatures are cooler).
- Check your solar panels regularly for debris, such as rocks, leaf litter, or dust and use a garden hose to rinse off the panels as needed.
- Avoid using hard water to clean your solar panels as it may cause a build-up that decreases their efficiency.
- Do not use abrasive sponges when cleaning your solar panels.
- Do not use extremely cold water to clean your solar panels as the drastic temperature change can damage the solar cells in the panels.
- When in doubt, contact a professional to clean your solar panels or contact your solar panel manufacturer with maintenance questions.
- If you notice a decrease in solar power production, rinse off your solar panels or get in touch with the manufacturer.
Solar Power Maintenance: Frequently Asked Questions
- What Should Solar Panels Be Cleaned With?
Solar panels should only be cleaned using mild detergent and hose water. Anything abrasive or harsh can damage panels and void the warranty. You can also use a leaf blower to easily clear debris off of solar panels. Always follow the manufacturer’s cleaning instructions when maintaining your solar panels.
- Are Solar Panels Low Maintenance?
Solar panels are an extremely low-maintenance investment that can keep you supplied with renewable, clean energy for decades. Solar panels can operate efficiently for many years with hardly any maintenance, especially if the panels are tilted.
- How Often Should Solar Panels Be Cleaned?
In general, it is recommended to clean your solar panels around two to four times a year. In some areas, your solar panel manufacturer may even recommend cleaning your solar panels only as needed. For instance, some areas receive enough rainfall to naturally keep tilted solar panels clear of dirt, dust, and debris.
- How Often Should Solar Panels Be Serviced?
Solar panels should be serviced by a professional at least once a year.
- Is There a Maintenance Difference Between Rooftop Panels and Ground-Mounted Panels?
Solar power maintenance for ground panels and rooftop panels is similar. Ground panels, however, are easier to access for maintenance purposes.
- What Is the Typical Solar Panel Warranty?
High-quality solar panels from a reputable company will come with a warranty of at least 15 to 25 years.
Have More Questions About the Maintenance of Solar Panels?
The maintenance of solar panels is straightforward and fairly minimal. By adhering to a maintenance routine and regularly having your panels professionally inspected and serviced, you can keep your solar panels working efficiently and properly for many years to come.
Our solar technicians are here to walk you through every step of the process. From initial questions about switching to solar power to solar power maintenance questions after installation, we are dedicated to being an invaluable resource to our customers.