Your solar panel may cease to work due to prolonged exposure to heat, dust, and harsh weather conditions.
If the panels remain dirty for long periods, they may produce relatively less electricity per unit. Therefore, the entire solar panel system requires regular maintenance and cleaning.
These include checking for damage, repairing, and cleaning the battery, mounts, inverter, wires, and solar panels.
How to Maintain a Solar Panel Battery?
A solar panel battery tends to store electrical charges for nights and cloudy days (when sunlight is insufficient). Your battery may be a gel battery or a lead-acid one.
Both the batteries require regular inspection, cleaning, and checking the battery voltage. However, you must also check the electrolyte level if you have a lead-acid battery.
Tip: If the solar panel indicates a low battery signal, immediately turn off its connections to prevent deterioration.
Regular Inspection and Cleaning
Corrosion residue often builds around the battery terminals in the form of white coating.
● Fasten the caps and plug out all the connections.
● Check for different types of damage, including cracks, leakage, and corrosion.
● Clean the top and around the battery with a damp cloth
● Use bi-carbonate soda water to clean corrosion.
Note: Wear protective gear such as safety goggles, gloves, and only use tools with an insulated handle.
Make sure to keep the battery in a high state of charge. You can measure it through a voltmeter.
● Connect the positive lead of the meter to the positive terminal and the negative lead with the negative one.
● The battery voltage will appear in the meter.
● Check the charge as stated in the table below, and record it in a log sheet.
State of Charge at Different Readings of Voltage
|Charge||Voltage (12 V)||Voltage (6 V)|
If you have lead-acid batteries, you must check their electrolyte level to ensure flawless performance.
Add distilled water to bring the acid level to 1/2-1/4 inches below the vent.
How to Maintain a Solar Panel?
Though the array of solar panels lined up on your roof might not seem like they require maintenance, they actually do. You need not check it frequently, but occasional inspection will help ensure its longevity.
● Cleaning: Wash the solar panels with clean water to get rid of dust and pollutants. In case that is not enough, splash cold water and rub it with a sponge. You may need to do this if the panels have hard-to-remove marks, bird droppings, etc.
Note: Never use any kind of soap or detergent to wash the panels. Also, keep metal brushes and sponges away to prevent damage.
● Inspection: Once you have thoroughly cleaned the solar array, look closely for defects. These include cracks, crevices, or discoloration. If you find any such issues, note them down so you can check again and ensure they do not deteriorate further.
● Additional Examination: Apart from panels, you also need to check the mounts and frames thoroughly. Check all the bolts to make sure they are secure enough. Also, inspect the nuts and bolts closely to check for corrosion. If any parts are rusted, clean them with bicarbonate and soda water.
How to Maintain Solar Panel Wiring and Connections?
Ensuring that the wiring and connections are intact helps keep short circuits and major damages at bay. Therefore, you must check the solar panel’s wires for cracks, meltdowns, and deterioration. Besides, they may also fall prey to rodents.
● Make sure the wires are not rusted
● They do not emit sparks when you switch on the system
● The wires do not emit any foul or burning odor
● It is not bitten by insects or rodents
● None of the wires’ sections are left uncovered
The different wires that you must check include wires connecting the following devices.
● Solar panels and inverter
● Inverter and battery
● Connection to the grid or the main switchboard
● In case you have a generator
If you spot any damages, you must consult the solar panel installation services as soon as possible. You can get it serviced for free or at a discounted rate if your solar panel system is still in its warranty period. Alternatively, you may also call for an electrician to make the necessary amendments.
Solar Panel Inverter Maintenance
You need to clean off the dust from solar panel inverters to maintain their efficiency. The same applies to a charge controller.
● Wipe off the dust using a dry cloth
● Check to see if all the LED lights and indicators are working
● Refasten the wires that may be loose
● Make sure the inverter displays the ‘charging’ status when sunlight is bright
You may want to call a solar panel professional if it does not display the correct readings.
Things to Avoid While Maintaining a Solar Panel
While there are dedicated steps for solar panel maintenance, you need to avoid detergents, hard water, etc., to ensure durability.
● Hard Water: It has a high level of minerals and may leave white residue on the panels, reducing their efficiency.
● Soaps and Detergents: These can damage the solar panels as they have multiple solvents that may also leave scratches.
● Very Cold Water: Pouring very cold water on the warm surface of solar panels can send it into a photovoltaic shock. It can cause major damage to the panels.
● Coarse Sponges: Using abrasive sponges may leave scratches and marks on the panel.
● High-Pressure Water: Washing the panels with high-pressure water can weaken the joints of the panel.
How Frequently Should You Clean Solar Panels?
Solar panels do not have a specific frequency for cleaning. Instead, it depends upon different factors, such as the amount of dust they are exposed to.
Ideally, solar panels should be checked and cleaned 2-3 times, or at least once a year.
For this, the ideal time is when the winter ends. That is when the amount of sunlight is high, and energy output will be more.
● If you live in a polluted or dusty area, the need for cleaning will be higher than usual.
● In case your area does not receive rainfall for long, they will need cleaning sooner.
Tip: Clean the solar panels during dusk or dawn to prevent sunlight blockage. Plus, the panels will be relatively less warm at those hours.
If you wish to clean the solar panel system more than once a year, make sure to follow the following schedule.
Solar Panel System Maintenance Schedule
|Visual Inspection of the Entire System||Weekly|
|Solar Panel Maintenance||Once in 3 months|
Tip: Record all the readings and observations in a log sheet every time you check.
Wrapping Up – Is Solar Panel Maintenance Easy?
Maintaining a solar panel system is relatively easy, and you can do it all by yourself. In most cases, you need not call professional services to do the routine cleaning. All you need is a garden hose to clean off any dust and debris that might accumulate on the surface.
That said, you may require extra care while cleaning in harsh conditions. For example, use lukewarm water to wipe off the snowfall in winters.
Apart from that, you can follow the solar panel system maintenance schedule to ensure it stays in top condition.