Solar Panel Maintenance: The Basics Every Homeowner Should Know

Nowadays, people are joining the wagon of sustainable practices. One of the most popular ones is using solar panels to provide renewable energy for the whole household. While purchasing solar panels can be expensive, they can be worth the investment in the long run because of the many benefits they bring.

One of these benefits is saving electricity bills since solar panels collect energy from the sun and store it for you to use in your home. However, to maximize your investment, you should know the basics to maintain the quality of your solar panels.

how to maintain your solar panel

How Long Do Solar Panels Last?

Generally, solar panels can maintain 80% of their optimal capability for about 25 years. Solar panels that experience wear and tear usually don’t break down completely. Instead, they work at a decreased capacity. If, for instance, you have 300-watt solar panels, during the latter part of their 25-year mark, they’d still be able to produce 240 watts of output.

The problem, however, lies in the equipment you use in conjunction with the solar panels, like inverters and batteries. These pieces of material have a shorter life span and break down more easily. You can expect to replace inverters at least once or twice during the entire life span of your system. The good thing is inverters usually have a warrant for up to 10 or 20 years.

If you’re using batteries as well, expect additional costs as they’d need to be replaced often, depending on how you maintain them. For lead-acid batteries, replacement generally occurs every three to seven years. On the other hand, lithium batteries have at least 10-15 years of usable life span.

In addition, residential solar panel installations may also have an impact on your panels’ life span. But when done right, the panels won’t break easily. Similarly, low-quality installation may increase their chances of being easily damaged.

How Do You Ensure Your Solar Panels Last Long?

Though solar panels need little maintenance for them to function, it’s vital to still look after them to ensure they last long. Here are ways to properly maintain your solar power system.

1. Make Regular Inspection Of Your Panels

More often than not, solar panels are located in higher areas, so they’re less susceptible to breakage caused by ground-level debris. But it’s still an excellent preventive method to check in on your solar panels every once in a while. Taking preventive maintenance like this ensures your panels are free from any buildup of dirt, tree materials, or pollen.

Another factor that could compromise your solar panels’ quality is extreme weather conditions, like hailstorms. Scheduled checkups can ensure your panels didn’t incur any damage after a storm or similar calamity.

2. Clean Your Solar Panels

Although cleaning solar panels can be a labor-intensive activity, it’s vital for their usability. Regularly cleaning your solar panels ensures there isn’t any object blocking them. If your panels are blocked, they may not be able to receive proper insulation. And without proper insulation, you won’t be able to maximize your panels’ energy output.

solar panel maintenance

Scheduling a regular cleanup would depend on how much dirt or debris accumulates over a certain period of time. Thus, a routine inspection is necessary so you could check whether your panels need cleaning. If they do, make sure you use a soft rag or washcloth and mild biodegradable soap for cleaning. If dust buildup is your problem, you can run water through a hosepipe on them. This way, you’d avoid causing damage to the panels.

3. Make Sure Your Panels Are Under Well-Lit Areas

You can get your solar panels’ maximum capability if they’re properly installed. So ensure they’re placed directly under sunlight or the panels aren’t covered by shade. Remember, the energy produced by solar panels decreases significantly if there’s an obstruction between the panels and the sun. So if a tree is obstructing the sun, consider trimming it down if you can. Additionally, make sure to remove unnecessary objects near the panels.

4. Tighten Loose Parts

Just like any other equipment, solar panels come with small parts like bolts and joints, which may loosen over time. Try to check on these as often as you can to ensure optimal energy production at all times.

If you want to take the extra mile, consider using an energy production monitoring device. This would keep track of the energy produced by your panels. When you notice drastic differences in the energy produced, it may be a sign of faulty parts. Compromised components in the panels’ wiring may lead to accidents. Make sure to immediately check your panels out as faulty parts can cause electrocution or even fire.

5. Keep Track Of Your Panels’ Daily Performance

Another effective solar panel maintenance strategy you can follow is to record any critical information that you get. This may be the average energy production in a given amount of time or the daily amount of energy produced at a specific time of the day. If you’re keeping track of the data yourself, you might see discrepancies in the record.

solar panels maintenance

For this, it might be best to get a manufacturer-approved monitoring system to get the most accurate results. With such a system, you can check whether your panels are working correctly and efficiently.

Conclusion

Installing solar panels may be one of the best ways to save on electricity costs. However, if you don’t know how to maintain them, they may not yield optimal results. Thus, considering the basics above can help you maximize your solar panel investment.

About Salman Zafar

Salman Zafar is the Founder of EcoMENA, and an international consultant, advisor, ecopreneur and journalist with expertise in waste management, waste-to-energy, renewable energy, environment protection and sustainable development. His geographical areas of focus include Middle East, Africa, Asia and Europe. Salman has successfully accomplished a wide range of projects in the areas of biomass energy, biogas, waste-to-energy, recycling and waste management. He has participated in numerous conferences and workshops as chairman, session chair, keynote speaker and panelist. Salman is the Editor-in-Chief of EcoMENA, and is a professional environmental writer with more than 300 popular articles to his credit. He is proactively engaged in creating mass awareness on renewable energy, waste management and environmental sustainability in different parts of the world. Salman Zafar can be reached at salman@ecomena.org or salman@bioenergyconsult.com
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