Any kind of solar system is an investment, and as such, you’ll want to make the most of it. In addition to solar panel monitoring, regular solar panel cleaning and maintenance will make sure your solar system functions optimally for more years to come.
Luckily, solar panel maintenance and cleaning aren’t too complicated, and most DIY solar system users are capable of managing upkeep on their own. Usually, it includes a simple visual inspection of the wiring system, the electrical system, and batteries, in addition to a simple cleaning such as removing snow or dirt.
The guide below will help you familiarize yourself with a few best practices for cleaning and checking your solar PV system.
Solar Panel Cleaning
The frequency of solar panel cleaning depends on the location and climate of your installation. For residential solar PV systems, regular rainfall may be enough to keep panels clean and free of debris.
In certain cases, however, you may have to clean your panels manually if there is a buildup of dust, tree debris, or bird droppings. To clean these solar panels, you can simply spray them with water and, if necessary, wipe them down with a soft sponge or cloth dipped in dish soap. Be sure not to use anything abrasive, as it can damage the solar panels.
If you are unsure of how to safely and properly clean your solar panels, contact a professional for advice on the best way to care for your system.
Cleaning Snow Off the Solar Panels
To maintain your solar panels’ efficiency, you’ll need to brush excess snow off them if you live in a snowy climate. In this case, a soft-bristled broom or brush works best. Abrasive materials can scratch the glass on the face of your panels.
Roof-mounted solar panels in snowy climates can also add another layer of risk to the cleaning process. Ice buildup combined with a sloped surface can make your room quite hazardous and might be better left to a professional cleaner. We strongly recommend opting for a ground mount system if you’re installing in an area that sees a lot of snow. This makes the panels much easier to access and safer to clean. If you absolutely must clean snow off of a roof-mounted array, please take the necessary precautions by wearing heavy-grip shoes and a secure harness.
Solar Panel Maintenance
Aside from cleaning your solar panels, your system can also benefit from regular maintenance checks. Most of these tasks can be DIY, though requirements may vary depending on individual systems.
Wiring & Electrical
It is recommended to inspect electrical conduits, fittings, ground conductors, and any other visible hardware for damage periodically at least once a year. Inspect PV wiring/cables to make sure they are not touching the roof, or otherwise unsecured. All PV wire should be securely fastened to the racking or panel frame using wire clips.
Racking refers to how solar panels are mounted and what hardware is effectively used. They can be roof-mounted or ground-mounted, and there are also less common mounts including tilt legs and pole mounts. Before you choose, it’s important to consider the type of structure, weather, cost, and other factors, which can be found in this solar racking guide. For simple cleaning, inspect racking for signs of damage, debris accumulation, or loose hardware at least once per year.
If your solar PV system has a battery bank (best batteries for PV solar system), you’ll want to set up a regular battery maintenance schedule to maintain their lifespan and efficiency. Battery maintenance needs differ based on type; lithium-ion batteries require little to no maintenance after initial setup, whereas others need regular upkeep to stay in good condition.