Make no mistake, your solar panel setup is a sturdy piece of technology that should only be handled and maintained by your solar provider—at least when it comes to repairs, replacements, and electrical maintenance. However, this doesn’t mean that you, as the owner, cannot contribute to the effectiveness and efficiency of your setup in your own unique way.
In fact, by tending to simple maintenance tasks such as cleaning dust, dirt, and debris form the surface of the panels, you can easily maintain the expected energy production levels and continue to make monetary savings over the long term. Here is your complete guide to seasonal solar photovoltaic system maintenance that will help you ensure a positive ROI.
Cleaning the Dust and Pollen Accumulation in Summertime
Summertime is, without a doubt, the most productive season of the year for your home’s solar system. During these three months, your solar panels should accumulate most of your household’s energy needs, so all the more reason to keep the system working nominally throughout. Unfortunately, summertime is also a season when dust, debris, and pollen fly about and inevitably land on the panels, in turn hindering their ability to absorb sunbeams.
It’s especially important to clean the panels regularly in case you live in a naturally dusty area, or a region where allergens are plentiful. Fortunately, cleaning the panels is easiest in the summer—just grab a garden hose and spray the surface clean. Be sure to use demineralized water, though, in order to prevent corrosion or scaling in the long run. In case you can’t reach the panels from the ground level, you can install roof sprinklers to take the hassle out of the chore.
Cleaning the Leaves and Debris in Fall
Just because summertime is over doesn’t mean that your solar panels are not producing energy. In fact, modern panels have the capability to keep producing high levels of energy well into late fall, provided that the surface is clear of any obstructions. The biggest problem is, of course, leaf buildup over the next couple of months coupled with dust and debris brought in by stronger winds, so you will need to tend to regular cleaning.
You might feel inclined to hose the panels down like in the months past, but that wouldn’t be the most effective solution. Instead, you will need to get up there and clean the leaves yourself. Be sure to exercise safety at all times by using sturdy elevation equipment such as a portable scaffolding rental that will allow you to maneuver around the roof without risk of losing balance. Scaffolding is also a good solution for storing all of your cleaning equipment without carrying it around the roof in your hands.
Removing Ice and Snow in Winter
Wintertime is the season where safety becomes an imperative, simply because of the elevated risk of slips and falls. When everything is frozen and the snow starts to cover up these hazards, you want exercise caution at all times, and refrain from stepping onto the roof itself. Instead, stay secure on the scaffolding. When it comes to cleaning and maintenance, you will need to be careful here as well.
First, check if the warranty allows for the use of snow-cleaning tools. If it does, go ahead and use a snow rake to push the snow off of the panels. Use gentle stroking motions and be patient. When it comes to cleaning the ice from your roof, it’s best that you consult a professional maintenance service, as you don’t want to damage the roof using tools, nor do you want to cause corrosion on the panels by using salt.
Inspecting the System in Springtime
When the winter has passed and the cold weather has subsided, the time is right to inspect the panels and make preparations for the seasons to follow. Spring is the time for preventative maintenance that will help you prolong the lifespan of your solar system. The best thing to do is to contact your installer to conduct an annual inspection, and make repairs as needed.
When conducting their diagnosis, the maintenance crew should inspect the surface of the panels in order to locate any weather damage, corrosion, streaks or cracks on the glass, as well as discolorations. They should also inspect the roof for penetrations, drainage issues, water damage, exposed wiring and electrical components, as well as problems with conduit tracks. As for the structural integrity of the system, make sure the maintenance crew inspects it for vegetation growth, animal infestation, faulty supports and joints, corrosion, inverter wear and tear, and possible missing bolts.
Solar energy is the way of the future, and the benefits of your investment are bound to show within the first year, while helping you make grand financial savings in the years and decades to come. Be sure to conduct regular seasonal maintenance in order to prolong the lifespan of your system and ensure its efficiency throughout the year.
If one thing is true about Lillian Connors, her mind is utterly curious. That’s why she can’t resist the urge to embark on a myriad of green living/home improvement projects and spread the word about them. She cherishes the notion that sustainable housing and gardening will not only make us far less dependent on others regarding the dwellings we inhabit, but also contribute to our planet being a better place to live on. You can check her out on Twitter and LinkedIn.