If you live in Southern Colorado, you might be wondering about the different types of solar panel maintenance. Solar panels are built to withstand all sorts of assaults from the elements without damage. A few years ago, for instance, the National Renewable Energy Laboratory in Denver experienced one of the worst hail storms in the state’s history. Over 100,000 vehicles were damaged when golf ball-sized hailstones struck them. But out of the 3000 solar panels at the lab, only one of the panels cracked! That’s an amazing testament to the strength and durability of today’s solar panel design and construction.
To remain efficient and prolong their existence, we’re going to review the easy maintenance steps to take for your solar panels. Here are a few tips on how to keep your solar panels in good shape for many years to come.
What is Solar Panel Maintenance?
First off, the good news! Solar panels don’t require much maintenance. Some of the key parts to being a good solar panel homeowner include making sure there are no exposed or worn-out wires and cleaning the glass regularly. Check the following things on a routine basis for maximum solar output and performance:
- Snow and Ice: Accumulation of snow on the panels can create under-cooling and can cause small cracks.
- Debris: Leaves and branches left behind by storms can reduce the efficiency of the panels. It can also create hotspots which can cause the panels to overheat in some areas.
- Stains and dust: Over time, the panels can accumulate a film on them, reducing their efficiency.
How often do solar panels need maintenance?
It all depends on the amount of rain and dust you get and the angle at which the panels are positioned. Most manufacturers recommend you clean your panels quarterly but depending on your specific circumstances you may only have to perform maintenance twice a year.
Depending on the angle of the slope, the snow may slide right off of them as it melts. If the panels are positioned on the ground you may have to clear any weeds or foliage that grows up around them. It’s a good idea to keep an eye on them after inclement weather occurs because there could be some dust or debris that has built up. It’s important to review the system’s performance and monitor them occasionally. You may even want to run a diagnostic test on your solar panels if the performance drops in efficiency. At Steel City Solar, we’re here to help and can provide diagnostic services and repairs when something goes wrong.
Cleaning your solar panels
Debris and dust
If you have a leaf blower you can use that to clear off the larger bits from the panels. You can follow that up with a water hose. Don’t use a power washer or a high-pressure nozzle because it could damage the panel. If it’s only dust on the panel you can wipe them down with a microfiber cloth. You can then use a little water and glass cleaner. Never use any abrasive materials to clean the panels.
Ice and snow
If the panels on your property are set at a steep angle, the snow and ice should slide off as it melts. If not, it’s a good idea to gently brush the snow from them if there’s been heavy snowfall. For a prolonged snowstorm, it’s a good idea to clean off your solar panels daily, since panels that aren’t exposed to sunlight won’t be able to help power your home. Pouring warm water on the panels can speed up the melting process, but, never use hot water because it could crack the panels. A squeegee can help to gently remove any moisture that could freeze again. Even a thin film of ice or snow could reduce the efficiency of your panels.
Common solar panel repairs
Intense weather or debris can in rare instances crack a solar panel. The electronics can also fail due to power surges, ground faults, or if the arc fails. These can all damage the system’s circuitry. Although most of the above issues are very rare, it’s best to know what to do if something unforeseen happens. Steel City Solar is a trusted member of the Southern Colorado community. We’re happy to help homeowners resolve any solar panel issues they might encounter. Even if you didn’t use us for your installation, we can make your repair a priority for our team.
Can broken solar panels be fixed?
Solar panels are made to be tough and to withstand the harsh elements of the outdoors. But accidents and random weather events can occur. When a panel is damaged, there can be a simple solution. The most efficient solution is to simply replace the damaged panel. It’s best to contact a professional like Steel City Solar to repair the panel off-site or simply replace it for you. It’s not a good idea to attempt to do it yourself by resealing cracks in the panel. This can cause bigger issues down the road if water leaks into the panel that you tried to repair.
How long do solar panels last?
Most solar panels can last up to 50 years. But over time, their performance may decrease. So keeping them after 30 years may cut their efficiency by 20%. It’s a good idea to begin checking your panels’ efficiency when they reach the 25-year mark. But even still, this makes solar panels a great long-term investment which should be worry-free for decades.
Solar panel backup battery warranties
Solar panels usually come with a warranty that lasts 5 to 10 years depending on the manufacturer. There may also be an efficiency degradation clause based on their performance. When purchasing a solar system or individual solar panels, It’s important to check that efficiency is guaranteed for at least 20 years.
Most performance warranties never get used but it’s good to know that the panels will be guaranteed by the company for decades to come.
Also, another important warranty question to ask relates to storms. It can be helpful to know if your solar panels are guaranteed against hail storms. Most are not, but your homeowner’s insurance may cover any damage incurred by such storms. Inquire with the installer if it’s available, but if not check with your insurance carrier at the time of installation.
What do I do with old solar panels?
Most of the components in solar systems are recyclable. This includes the frames and the panel’s glass. Contact your local recycling plant to see if they accept old solar parts and see if you need to disassemble the panels before they’ll take them. Some panels may contain hazardous materials like cadmium and lead, so they should always be disposed of properly at a recycling plant or waste center.
Steel City Solar Can Help with Solar Power Maintenance and Repairs in Southern Colorado.
Here at Steel City Solar we’re happy to assist homeowners and businesses with any questions that may arise about solar panel maintenance. Even if we didn’t install your current system, give us a call and schedule an inspection. We’ll send out our best solar technicians to diagnose the problem right away.
We’ll be happy to answer any questions you may have regarding your system. If you are still on the fence about whether to make the cost-effective, eco-friendly choice to go with the free and clean energy solar power provides, reach out to us today. Our award-winning team will be happy to help. Give us a call at 719-569-5166 or visit our website.