Solar Panel Maintenance
Mar 24, 2020
by EmPower Solar
You made the investment of installing a solar panel system on your home or business, but now you’re unsure of what to do to maintain your system. How can you make sure your solar system is operating as efficiently as possible? Here are a few easy and recommended ways to maintain your solar panel system.
Solar photovoltaic systems commonly known as solar panel systems are typically made from tempered glass. SunPower panels are extremely durable and designed to withstand extreme weather conditions. So whether you’re living somewhere that experiences heavy snow and rain, high wind, heat, or freezing temperatures, your solar panel system will be able to function and handle the climate. There are very few harsh weather conditions in which your solar panel system can be affected. Ironically, the most common weather condition to affect your solar panel system is high heat, which can affect the operating efficiency of the panels. During high heat days over 90 degrees, solar panels may lose a small amount of efficiency, but this is only temporary and won’t have any lasting effects on your overall system. This is easily mitigated by installing the solar panel system a few inches above the roof, or above the ground, to enable air circulation under and around the panels. This helps keep the panels cool and the efficiency level up!
WHAT MAINTENANCE IS REQUIRED FOR SOLAR PANELS?
As a homeowner it is important to check in on your app often and make sure your panels are producing energy as expected. One part of that is making sure your solar panels are kept clean. A light rain shower could be enough to wash away light debris such as leaves, dirt, dust and animal droppings. In the northeast, we get enough precipitation to keep our panels clean, naturally, but if you live near a park, dessert, or other dusty habitats without enough rainfall, you can request a cleaning of your solar panels.
It is never recommended to climb on your roof and brush off debris on solar panels. Any accidental damage caused during cleaning would not be covered under a warranty. Since the panels have an anti-reflective coating you must also be careful not to wash your panels with harsh chemicals as they may damage the anti-reflective coating on your solar panels and cause a decrease in reflective efficiency. Reflective efficiency is when more light is captured and converted into energy, reducing the amount of light that bounces away.
In the winter months, snowfall will typically melt and slide off your panels on its own and will require no maintenance at all. Using any type of scraper or brush can scratch and damage the panels, and using hot water to melt snow can do much more harm than good. Since the panels are made from tempered glass, using hot water to melt the snow can result in cracks in the panels, so you should always let the snow melt off naturally.
The best way to know if your solar panel system might need maintenance is to check your system monitor. Solar system monitors report electrical output and can inform an owner when maintenance may be needed. Checking your production report consistently will help let you know right away if your system is in full operation or has run into an issue that requires attention. If after checking the monitoring app and something seems off, call your installer’s service department. They can help you determine if there is a technical issue with a panel and can diagnose and repair the system quickly.
SOLAR PANEL WARRANTIES
The key to worry-free maintenance is a solid warranty. Before going solar, you will want to make sure you are doing your homework, reading reviews, asking questions about warranties, and making sure you are protected if a maintenance issue does occur. The average lifespan of a solar panel system is about 25-30 years, so you want to ensure you are protected for as long as possible.
A SunPower warranty is broken down into a few parts; a complete system warranty and a complete service warranty. The complete system warranty offers the most comprehensive coverage on the market covering your whole system including the panels, microinverters, racking system and even power production for 25 years, as well as a 10 year warranty on monitoring hardware. In most conventional solar warranties, each part is made and warranted by a different manufacturer, who typically only offer 10 year warranties for the parts. The SunPower complete service warranty covers any issues with your system, and includes an easy process so there is no need for receipts, proof of purchase or written claims. SunPower will send a certified installation contractor to fix the issue and cover the cost of labor, shipping and parts for 25 years. SunPower will also include a workmanship warranty to cover any accidental damage caused by workmanship errors during installation. The conventional solar warranties will make you provide the original proof of purchase, submit a claim in writing, and ask you to pay to ship and package parts, both new and defective.
When it comes to maintenance, it’s best to first choose a product that is proven to work well over long periods of time. Then choose a company that has a long history and a proven good-standing track record for servicing their clients. Lastly, if you suspect a maintenance issue, call your service department! When your installer takes the safety of both their team, their solar systems, and their clients seriously, you can rest assured that your solar system will always perform at its peak efficiency.
For more information on solar panel maintenance, as well as monitoring portals, please visit the Client Corner.