While it’s true that owning a solar panel system for your home is virtually maintenance free, it might be a good idea to check on it once in a while to be sure everything is ok and working properly.
Although solar panels don’t have any moving parts, it doesn’t mean that they don’t need some attention. After all, they are mechanical devices and every mechanical device needs to be maintained, even if it’s only rarely.
It’s no different with solar panels. The weather, and yes, even the various wildlife around homes can potentially diminish the output of your solar system if left unchecked. That’s why Shine recommends performing an inspection of your solar panel system at least twice a year.
What Do I Need To Look For?
There are two main things you need to check on to be sure your solar array is working at maximum capacity. First, you need to inspect the surface of each solar panel in your system. Be sure it is free of dirt or residue, as this can block sunlight and decrease the performance of your system.
Most of the time, this is taken care of by annual rainfalls. But, during certain times of the year, such as in the spring and fall when pollen is abundant or if there has been a drought in your area when dirt blows more freely, it can cover your panels with a thin film and obstruct the sunlight. Or, the dirty residue of melted snow can potentially cause a decrease in performance.
The good news is, the remedy is super simple. Just take your garden hose and wash off your solar panels.
If you Google how to do this, you will get a variety of answers with little agreement among these so called “experts” as to the best way to accomplish this very simple task. Some say to wash your solar panels with water and a mild detergent and others disagree saying it leaves a film that obstructs sunlight. Some say to use a water hose extension to be sure the dirt is removed (this actually isn’t a bad idea, but also not always required—you’ll have to decide for yourself). Some say you have to use de-ionized water to clean your panels. Seriously? What is that anyway and where in the world would you get it? Most of all, there have been some enterprising individuals that want to sell you the service of cleaning your solar panels much like those who offer carpet cleaning services. But, this really isn’t necessary at all and don’t be fooled.
The best and simplest solution is to just wash them off with a garden hose if needed. Don’t use a pressure washer because that could damage your panels. A simple garden hose with an extension if necessary, is all you need.
What Else Should I Look For?
In addition to inspecting your solar panels for dirt, you should also check in between the space that separates the roof from the bottom of your panels. Sometimes, wildlife like squirrels or birds, like to build nests in that space. Regularly inspecting your system once or twice a year will help prevent this from happening and prevent any damage that may occur as a result.
If you live in an area with lots of wildlife, this could be a problem. But, no worries. You can purchase critter guards online that are designed specifically to keep wildlife out from under your solar panels.
As we said previously, solar systems are virtually maintenance free, especially when compared to other mechanical devices. However, being vigilant and inspecting your system twice a year for dirt buildup and/or wildlife infestations can ensure your system is providing the maximum output possible. Be sure to make this part of your yearly home maintenance schedule and upkeep.
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