A common misconception is that solar panels are fragile (they’re glass, after all) and require lots of maintenance. All of this couldn’t be further from the truth. In fact, modern solar panels have come a long way in almost every respect – from performance to durability and longevity. Today, most brands offer warranties in the 25-year range, with peak performance measured in decades rather than years.
But while today’s solar panels are unquestionably durable, most service experts recommend an annual inspection as the best way to ensure that your solar energy system is always operating at its best.
In addition to the annual inspection, here are five essential maintenance tips that will help ensure your solar energy system is delivering as designed for years to come.
1. Regular solar panel cleaning
Solar panels work best when there is nothing blocking their path to the sun. Dirt, debris, and animal droppings can hinder performance by reducing the amount of sun that makes its way to the panels. Having your panels professionally cleaned once or twice a year will reduce the negative impact of buildup. If your company has an in-house facilities department and water access near your system location, routine rinsing of panels can further improve system performance and even extend the time between professional cleanings.
2. Install wildlife guards
Pigeons and rodents are known to burrow and nest in tight spaces, chew on wiring and potentially cause electrical issues. In some parts of Arizona, wildlife guards are an excellent measure to help prevent pest related issues long before they become a problem. Keeping wildlife away from the panels also helps ensure longer cycles between panel cleanings.
3. Trimming adjacent vegetation will avoid shading
Living in the desert, we all appreciate a shaded parking space when the weather gets toasty. However, when left unattended, growing trees and bushes can cast a shadow over your solar panels and negatively impact their production. Over-shadowing vegetation should be trimmed back to ensure that your system is functioning to its full potential.
4. Wiring and connection points inspection
The Sonoran Desert delivers ample amounts of energy rich sunlight that makes going solar a “no-brainer” for most Arizona companies, but this is also one of the harshest environments in North America. Commercial solar energy systems are comprised of thousands of critical connection points—from the inverter(s) to the solar panels on your roof or parking structures. As the years go by and the system is exposed to the harsh desert elements, these connection points can sometimes come loose. A yearly wiring inspection is all it takes to identify and fix potential problems long before they hinder your system’s performance.
5. Inverters inspection
Inverters are designed to withstand the extreme temperature changes of the Arizona climate, but they should be maintained and kept free of dust and debris. Having filters and fans cleaned regularly can also dramatically extend their functional lifespan and ensure that the equipment they are serving remain cool and clean. This is an easy addition to an annual inspection.
These five preventative measures will help mitigate system degradation, and ensure that the system is producing at peak efficiency for years to come!
Get a solar checkup today. Contact us for a free service quote or to schedule an appointment with one of our service providers.
*This blog has been updated since it's original publication of 8/19/2016.