According to the SEIA, there are currently 514,000 households in the U.S. with a residential solar system installed. Solar power is one of the best-known and most effective ways to reduce your electricity bills while benefitting the environment. Here are common solar panel care errors and how to avoid them.
It’s still an expensive option for most homeowners, though, taking up to ten years to deliver an ROI.
If you’re one of the homeowners who are fortunate enough to have a solar energy system installed, a little care can ensure your panels go the distance.
That’s why you need a solar panel maintenance routine that excludes the following solar panel care errors.
Table of Contents
- Ignoring Instructions:
- Skimping on Solar Panel Inspections:
- Avoiding Repairs to Damaged Solar Panels:
- Leaving Snow and Ice to Melt on Solar Panels:
- Neglecting Pre-Cleaning Priorities:
- Before you get going, there are four important steps to take:
- Consider Safety First:
- Gather the Right Supplies:
- Switch Off the Power:
- Inspect Your Solar Installation Before Cleaning:
- Solar Panel Care Errors During Cleaning:
- Rough Treatment:
- Half-Hearted Cleaning:
- Cleaning PV Panels During Peak Sunlight Hours:
- Leaving Solar Panels to Dry on Their Own:
- Master Every Task:
According to Blue Raven Solar, not every household in the USA can benefit from solar power. So, a DIY installation might not deliver the results you want.
You must get a qualified installer to inspect your home’s roof and conduct a solar assessment to help you determine how much you could save by installing solar power. It’s best if a reputable and experienced installer handles every aspect of your installation, too.
They will oversee the entire process, from assisting you with the necessary permits to helping you decide on the most cost-effective options for grid-tied and off-grid solar electricity.
After they’ve completed the job, your installer will provide you with a warranty, as well as detailed instructions for cleaning and maintaining your solar system.
If you don’t heed this expert advice, you could damage your panels and end up with extra expenses associated with repairing solar systems. You could end up without any recourse if something goes wrong, too.
As soon as your solar system is up and running, read these documents from cover to cover, and ask your installer if you’re unclear about any details about your solar system.
Skimping on Solar Panel Inspections:
Solar panels are low-maintenance items, but regular inspections are a vital part of any solar panel care routine. Inspecting your panels regularly is the most effective way to avoid small problems becoming big issues.
You should inspect your solar panels once a month yourself and hire a professional inspection service at least once a year. Some solar panel installers include this aspect as part of their packages.
During this inspection, pay attention to signs of rust or electrical failure and look for any loose wires.
You should also take note of any dirt, dust, or debris that’s collected on your PV panels. These things will damage your solar panels over time and reduce their efficiency.
Avoiding Repairs to Damaged Solar Panels:
You must contact a qualified solar panel repair expert as soon as you notice any signs of damage to your panels. They can help you fix these issues quickly and help you avoid major repairs or system failure later on.
You could experience a nasty shock or fatal electrocution if you come into contact with loose wires while cleaning your solar panels.
Leaving Snow and Ice to Melt on Solar Panels:
Snow, ice, dirt, debris, and bird dropping prevent the sun’s rays from reaching the solar cells inside the solar panels. That means they can’t generate any electricity.
You must remove these items as soon as you notice them littering your solar installation. Snow and ice can cause major problems, like a short circuit when they melt, and solid items can scratch your panels if the wind blows them across the surface.
Scratches will reduce the electricity output of your solar panels.
Neglecting Pre-Cleaning Priorities:
Cleaning solar panels is vital to keep them producing power at optimum levels and prevent damage. It’s advisable to clean your solar panels at least twice a year.
A build-up of dirt, dust, and grime will slowly reduce your panels’ efficiency, and they could even stop working after months of exposure to these things.
You can hire a professional solar panel cleaning company to get the job done, or climb up on your roof, and do it yourself.
Before you get going, there are four important steps to take:
Consider Safety First:
Working on your roof is a dangerous activity. Every year, around 400 people die due to falling from elevated work areas. It’s vital to use a sturdy ladder and harness system to ensure you’re safe and protected in the event of a fall.
You must study your surroundings to ensure it’s safe to climb onto your roof before you do so. Be aware of overhead wires and other obstacles before you start cleaning your solar panels.
Gather the Right Supplies:
If you leave items you need to clean your solar panels behind, going up and down your ladder to retrieve them increases your risk of falling. Make sure you’ve got your cleaning solution, soft cloth, squeegee, garden hose, and soft towels together before you ascend.
Switch Off the Power:
A dual-meter that shows how much energy you produce at home can cause electrocution if you leave it on while cleaning your solar panels. To stay safe, always turn off your mains switch before you get started cleaning your solar panels.
Inspect Your Solar Installation Before Cleaning:
If you start sloshing water and jabbing metal objects near damaged solar panels, you could experience a severe shock. So, check for loose wires and connections before you clean your solar panels and get them repaired if necessary first.
Solar Panel Care Errors During Cleaning:
Solar panels can stand up to inclement weather and blazing sunlight. Yet, you must avoid these harmful practices while cleaning them.
Wiping Around Dirt Instead of Away From It.
When you use a circular motion to remove dirt from your solar panels. You’re unwittingly pushing the grime into their surface. This can cause it to become ingrained and difficult to remove.
These stains will hamper your solar panels’ efficiency.
Rather, wipe away the dirty patch in sections using a damp cloth and a lifting motion.
Using the Incorrect Cleaning Products
If you have hard water in your area, you can’t use it to clean your solar panels. When you use this type of water repeatedly, it causes scaling that eventually destroys the solar panels.
You can use a water softener or use water from a Reverse Osmosis unit to avoid this problem.
You should avoid using ice-cold water on solar panels too. Your solar panels bake in the sun and when icy water hits this surface it can cause a major crack. Let the water flow through your hose for a few minutes before you apply it to your solar panels.
Soap or household cleaners like ammonia will damage the protective layer on your panels. It’s worth spending the extra money buying cleaning products designed for use on solar systems.
Never walk on your solar panels. They’re not designed to carry weight.
You won’t break the protective glass, but you could cause small cracks in the cells beneath it. Ultimately, this leads to inferior performance.
Likewise, it’s not a good idea to use a pressure sprayer on your solar panels. Water at high pressure can damage your solar panels. A gentle stream of water is best for cleaning PV panels.
Use a soft brush or cloth to scrub dirt and debris away. Avoid using too much pressure, a soft touch will keep your panels in good condition for longer.
You must rinse your panels before and after cleaning them.
The pre-rinse helps remove loose dust and dirt while softening any hard elements present on the modules. After cleaning, a final rinse will remove suds and any wayward dust that escaped your efforts.
It’s easy to miss spots on your solar panels if you aren’t paying attention. Make sure you angle your brush, so it cleans every inch of the panel.
Don’t skip areas that look clean. Sometimes it’s difficult to detect dirt on the wet surface of a panel.
Nobody thinks about cleaning the tops of their solar panels. Dirt in this area can block sunlight from reaching some areas of the solar panel, decreasing its efficiency.
Cleaning PV Panels During Peak Sunlight Hours:
When you clean your solar panels during the hottest part of the day, the cleaning solution will evaporate, rendering it almost useless. Rather schedule cleaning duty for early morning or late afternoon.
Remember, your solar system is performing at its peak during the hottest part of the day. So, switching everything off for cleaning is akin to wasting electricity.
Leaving Solar Panels to Dry on Their Own:
Once you’ve washed and rinsed your solar panels, dry them with a soft cloth. Pooling water will leave unsightly marks on the surface of your panels and can damage them eventually.
A squeegee is an excellent choice for removing all excess water from your solar panels.
Master Every Task:
These solar panel care errors stem from the hard-won experience of solar panel experts. They’ve gleaned this information from their own mistakes as well as the latest industry research.
Don’t let trial-and-error guide you through life. Rather, browse our website for up-to-date information and tips on a diverse range of topics.