Solar panels are an investment that requires maintenance. In order for panels to run efficiently, they need upkeep. Here are a few tips to help you get the most from your solar panels.
As solar panels have no moving parts the main area of maintenance is to keep them clean. It is recommended to check the panels; especially during peak dry periods when dust builds up may be higher. Dirty panels cannot absorb the energy as efficiently and will have a much reduced performance level. The main sources of dirt are bird droppings and dust which can be easily removed using either a dry cloth or detergent and warm water. Try to inspect and wash the panels in the morning to reduce drastic temperature changes.
When checking the level cleanliness of your panels, it is also recommended that you have a look for any loose wiring connections and any debris that has fallen on the panels. Don't just focus on the actual panels; the frames holding them in place are a vital component too. Look for gaps or cracks in the frame that would allow water into the system. Check for any water damage to fuses and connections or for signs of corrosion.
Forces of Nature
Nature and wildlife can be a hazard to your solar panels – squirrels may chew through wires or birds may make their nests underneath the panels. Regular inspections will allow you to pick up on these problems before any major damage is done. The growth of trees and other shrubs may also shade your panels from the sun and reduce their energy absorption. Keep an eye on them and cut back as necessary.
Snowfall should not generally case a problem for solar panels. They are normally installed at a steep enough angle that the majority of the snow will just slide off. Any remaining snow won't take long to melt from the glass even if it is not all directly exposed to the sun. However, if there has been a particularly heavy or prolonged snowfall it is recommended to make a quick check on the panels to make sure that they do not require clearing.
Some panel manufacturers or contractors offer maintenance schemes to keep the solar panel system at its optimum working conditions. This can include replacing the thermal transfer fluid, which it is recommended to change every few years.
Another way of checking on the amount of energy being produced by your solar panels is to have an energy monitor installed. These systems can range from very simple display-only meters to a sophisticated, comprehensive monitoring system. Having an energy monitor can be an early warning system to prevent the shock of receiving a large bill from your conventional energy provider if your solar thermal system is underperforming.