Maintaining Your New Solar Panels: What You Need to Know

Switching to solar panels can be a process, but maintaining solar panels is fairly simple. In this way, solar panels are a lot like roofing shingles. With just a little care and some regular inspections, your solar panels should last for many decades. Here's what you need to know about maintaining your solar panels in Florida.

maintenance

Cleaning

Debris can fall on shingles during wind storms and throughout the fall when trees drop their leaves. In the summer, we get quite a bit of rain in Largo, Florida. At this time of year, rain washes solar panels naturally. However, at other times of year, we see far less rain and solar panels may become a lot dirtier.

Check your solar panels for debris during the fall, winter, and spring. If you see debris on the panels, spray them with a strong jet of water from a hose. Hopefully, you can do this from the ground or from the safety of a ladder. Do not walk on your roof if you can avoid it; climbing on your roof can be dangerous for you and also risky for your solar panels. 

If your home has hard water, be aware that frequent cleanings can lead to scale buildup. Over time, scale buildup blocks the sun and reduces the efficiency of your solar panels. A test should tell you whether your home has hard water, but most of the time it's easy to tell anyway. If your home has hard water, you'll see scale buildup on your home's faucets, dishes, and shower doors.

This crusty, white film is difficult or impossible to remove with normal soapy water. If your faucets and shower doors are free of film, then it's unlikely that your home's water is especially hard. If your water is hard, you may need to get a water softener before using a hose to clean your solar panels.

Sometimes a strong jet of water from your hose is not enough to clear away leaves on your solar panels. If you need to wipe away leaves from the panels, check with your solar panel installer before touching the panels with anything like a sponge or rake. Using the wrong cleaning method on your solar panels could do damage and void the warranty. 

Monitoring

Many homeowners use apps on their smart phone or an Internet portal to check the electrical output of their solar panels. You don't have to watch the activity of your solar panels all the time, but checking their electrical output periodically makes it possible for you to identify irregularities.

Watch for sudden drops in productivity. You should be able to check on each panel individually. Watch each panel to ensure they are all producing around the same amount. A panel that produces far less than the others could be malfunctioning. Check with your solar panel installation company to find out if something is wrong. 

Maintaining Efficiency

Maintaining the efficiency of your system usually involves exposing your solar panels to as much sunlight as possible, which means removing shade sources. Growing trees are a common problem for residential solar panels.

If your property has any large trees on the premises, watch the course of the sun throughout the day. Note whether your trees throw your panels in shade. Once you've identified the branches that cast your solar panels into shade, trim the branches. It's best to have these branches trimmed professionally to avoid doing damage to the tree and to avoid dropping branches onto your roof.

Trees tend to grow back after they are pruned, so you may need to repeat this process every few years. Check with your arborist to find out when the best time of year to trim your trees is.   

Inspecting

Inspecting your solar panels on a regular basis can help you identify problems. You can perform your inspections at times of year when you're working near the roof, like when you're cleaning the gutters or cleaning the solar panels. During the inspection, look for cracks, rust, or deterioration in and around the solar panels. 

After inspecting the panels themselves, go into your attic and check the area directly beneath the solar panels. Look for signs of a leak, water damage, or mold. If you see anything like a leak or mold, contact your solar panel installation company as soon as possible. Mold, wood rot, and leaks can cause structural damage that could make it difficult for your roof to support your panels. 

Contact Your Solar Company

With a little bit of work and effort, your solar panels will last for 25 years or longer. For more information about maintaining your solar panels, contact an expert. 

At Solar Source, we're happy to answer all of your questions about solar panel maintenance. Contact us today to find out more.