Solar panel maintenance: simple and affordable

After decades of fossil fuel usage and surviving its not so subtle environmental effects, it is time for us to go back to cleaner modes of living, yet without lowering our standard of living. Glass-covered silicon-based cells generate energy from solar rays for our daily use. Sounds pretty neat, doesn’t it? Well, it is. And frankly, switching over to solar energy is the very first step towards contributing to environmental well-being besides taking care of our energy needs. Needless to say that is what is to be expected from a species as evolved as mankind. However, accepting a new energy model introduces a few questions, such as that regarding maintenance and quality of the solar panels. Solar modules today are more durable (thick glass and an EVA sheet in a metal frame), long-lasting (over 25 year guarantees are standard), efficient (17-19%), and well designed (flat and easy to install). Still, questions regarding maintenance linger for some. So, let us get our facts right and put all confusion to rest.

Correct maintenance is the only way to sustain any electronic device’s functionality and ensure it retains its maximum efficiency, and solar panels are no exception. But what separates solar modules from other devices is the low amount of maintenance required. As there are no moving parts, problems are rare. All it needs is a simple clean (with water) once in a while to work as you would expect it to.

Get your panel from trusted sellers

Solar panels are low maintenance, and one thing you could do to keep it so, is to buy from sellers who offer at least a 25 year guarantee on them. Check all the quality certificates and make sure they also offer maintenance solutions, when needed. The author of this blog post Vikram Solar offers a 27 year linear power warranty to ensure that its modules will still be outputting a phenomenal 80% of their original nameplate capacity.

For dusty areas

It is possible that your solar panels will get covered with dust, leaves, or bird droppings. All these factors can reduce your energy generation rate, blocking the sun’s rays from hitting the panels. Thus, a regular clean will ensure maximum output. The dustier the place you live in, the more frequently you will have to whip out your garden hose and splash water on the solar panels – it is completely safe!

You can also use soapy liquids to clean the panels and use a wiper to keep the panels clean. However, be careful not to splash cold water on your panels after it has been in the scorching heat out in the open, as it might force the glass plate to crack. It is the same principle as pouring boiling water on a windscreen covered in ice – the rapid temperature change stresses the glass to fracture.

Cleaning solar panels
CC Image courtesy of Brian Kusler on Flickr

For snowy areas

In light of the EU’s and especially Germany’s rapid embrace of solar energy, it is quite clear that not only countries near the equator, but also countries with colder seasons can generate energy from the sun. Colder weather can even serve as an ally to your green energy generation because by keeping the panels cool you reduce the loss of power. Overheating modules is actually one of the most common ways in which a solar module’s efficiency drops!

Unfortunately, not all aspects of snowy weather help in green energy generation. In cold environments you need to make sure that your solar panels are not covered in snow. Snow completely blocks the solar panels from getting the sun’s rays. So, multiple cleaning sessions are necessary if you want your solar panels to function throughout the snowy seasons. Just wipe the snow off your panels and you are good to go! Alternately, a common strategy in Switzerland is to ensure the mounting system ensures a higher tilt – this may reduce the amount of energy produced but will let snow fall off without needing to be cleaned.

In some regions, the temperature can rise and fall quickly, which can crack the glass of older or cheaper solar panels. To prevent this, make sure that you buy high quality solar modules that are temperature treated.

If you make the right decisions to begin with, maintaining your solar panels is a breeze. But what you need to factor in is the location of the installed panels before getting your wiper and garden hose out of the garage. If the panels are installed on the roof, and they are difficult to reach safely, a smart thing to do would be to call for professional help.

Solar panel covered in snow
CC Image courtesy of julian on Flickr

Solar panel usage benefits are quite appealing:

  • Reduction of CO2 emissions – A 10 kW solar system can save up to 5.84 tonnes of CO2 emissions per year.
  • By using solar energy generated from your rooftop solar plant, you will save on your energy bill. How much you save will depend on your energy usage levels. If your rooftop plant is connected to the grid, you can even receive bonus payments for kicking back surplus energy to the grid.
  • Solar plants can be easily used where conventional energy grid is yet to be built.
  • The effects of rain and dust storms are minimal on solar panels. A simple clean up will get them ready for work.
  • Judging by the rate of technological improvements, it is clear that solar energy systems will keep improving, increasing energy output. So over time, your energy bills will keep falling regardless of your usage habits.

With such easy maintenance, it is a deal one cannot pass up. So, now that you have all the facts in hand, it is time for you to join the green energy revolution.

So join us in building a cleaner, fairer future for future generations.

Editor’s note: If you want information on anything specific or wish to discuss new ideas, please comment below to get in touch.