As the days of depending on fossil fuels to run our buildings and appliances meet their evolutionary demise and the natural transition into more abundant renewable forms of energy becomes increasingly more common, many home and business owners are opting to Go Solar. Solar power is an excellent means of reducing your carbon footprint, saving money on electricity bills, and becoming energy independent, but like all things does require some regular maintenance. In this blog, I will outline some useful tips for those who choose solar to help maintain their system and get the most benefit and value over the long-term.
It is important to note that your solar panels can lose upwards of 30% of their energy production if they are covered in traffic dust, construction debris, leaves, pollen, animal waste, or even sea salt (for those homes by the ocean). Regular upkeep will prove to be a worthwhile practice in keeping your panels lasting long and effectively.
Begin With Inspection
Before getting started, it is wise to check with your solar panel manufacturer for instructions on the upkeep of your system. They may have specific recommendations unique to their brand that could help optimize the longevity of your system. Also, consider checking your panels with a physical inspection as well as with a monitoring device. This will help you to determine which panels may not be producing as effectively or if the issue goes beyond cleaning. Once you have inspected the panels, you can then approach the job of getting them clean with the right information and the proper approach.
Keeping Your Solar Panels Clean
Sometimes a regular rain will be all you need to wash away the dirt and debris from your panels. So if you live in a state that is not as sunny as some others, there is one benefit for you there. Your job in keeping your panels clean will be mostly done for you. But if you live in a regular drought state like California, Arizona, or Nevada, your amazing sun hours are countered with an excess of dirt and debris build-up that may require a little routine effort to clean. Not to worry though as this can all be done very cheaply and in a relatively short amount of time.
Because your solar panels can become very hot under the Sun, it is best to clean them early in the morning, in the evening, or otherwise on a relatively cool day. Often times a good old garden hose alone will do the job. If there is a lot of traffic dust, dirt, and /or another debris build-up, other measures may be necessary. This doesn’t mean you should need to hire anyone for the job. It might cost more to hire professionals than you are likely to get back in energy consumption unless you have a large residential or commercial system. Usually, all that is needed when the trusty hose alone can’t do the trick is a bucket or spray bottle with warm water and soap—no other special equipment is needed. Simply wipe the surface of your solar panels with a soft cloth or sponge and… voilà! Good as new. You do not have to clean the wiring underneath and a minute per panel is normally more than enough time to get the panels sparkling and ready to harness the energy of the Sun. More often than not, any build-up will be most consolidated at the base of the panels, so it is best to put the most amount of focus there when cleaning them. Do however exercise safety. It is best if you can get all or the majority of your cleaning done from the ground. If you feel it necessary to get on a ladder or to clean straight from the roof, hiring a professional solar panel cleaning service might be a good idea to minimize unnecessary risk.
Follow Up With Inspection Again
After cleaning your panels, it is wise to monitor energy production again to verify that the panels are back functioning to the fullest. If you have removed all debris and thoroughly cleaned the panels and they still aren’t producing optimally, there may be a branch growing out from a tree nearby casting shade or there could be a more serious problem. Under these conditions, it is advantageous to have a system that is backed by a solid guarantee. SolarWorld panels, in particular, come with a 25-year warranty on their products which is normally well beyond a decade longer than the finance duration for most solar power systems. (More info about SolarWorld and its warranty program can be found here.) With a warranty comes peace-of-mind as well as a higher level of all around quality. So be sure to keep your solar panels clean and backed by a solid warranty and you will benefit with decades of service and savings from them.
Writer: Geddy Friedman