So, you’re thinking about taking the exciting first step into solar powering your home, or already have a system installed. But maybe you have some questions about what you need to do to maintain it.
The good news is that solar panels are amazingly resilient. They need to be, considering the years of weather they will be enduring. Since there are no moving parts, there is little in the way of wear and tear.
A well-maintained solar PV system can last for decades, with very little in the way of upkeep. Even with its low-maintenance nature, there are still a few things you need to know to make sure that your system is in peak condition for many years to come.
Maximize the Life of Your Solar Panels
One of the few concerns in maintaining your solar panels is making sure they stay clean. It’s important to remove anything that may obstruct your panels from efficiently absorbing sunlight.
This is sometimes a non-factor, depending on where you live. If you get a good amount of rain where you live, this often does enough cleaning for you. However, if you get a good amount of dust, dirt, or other debris that might accumulate on your roof, you may need to do some cleaning on your own.
In most instances, rinsing off dust and debris with a garden hose will get the job done. In rarer cases, you may use a device similar to window washers, like a pole with a sponge at the end. That said, most times even a little dust won’t cause enough of a problem to warrant cleaning.
A 2013 study by engineers at the University of California, San Diego found that panels in the state that were not cleaned and did not experience rainfall over a 145 day period only lost 7.4 percent of their efficiency. For the average 5 kilowatt residential solar system, washing panels halfway through the California summer would yield a modest $20 gain in electricity production until the summer drought was over.
Jan Kleissl, the principal investigator on the study pointed out that the study focused on smaller systems, so large scale commercial solar PV systems may warrant having the panels washed. Another exception might be on panels that are slanted under 5 degrees, since steeper inclines allow for more dust to slip off.
“Dust on PV panels does make a difference, but it’s not a big enough factor in California to warrant cleaning,” said study author Felipe Mejia.
Solar panels are durable and practically maintenance-free, as long as they are properly installed. That said, it’s always a good idea to inspect your roof from time to time to make sure your panels are clean.
Also read: Do Solar Panels Work in Cloudy Weather?