As the vibrant colors of fall take over the landscape, it’s also a reminder for solar panel owners that it’s time for some fall solar panel maintenance. The changing seasons can have an impact on the efficiency of your solar panel system, and by taking a few proactive steps, you can ensure that your solar panels continue to generate clean, renewable energy at peak performance. In this blog post, we’ll explore some essential fall maintenance tips to help you make the most of your solar panels during this season.
In This Article:
- Clean Your Solar Panels
- Clean Your Solar Mounting System
- Clean Your Inverter
- Check for Birds & Squirrels
- Check for Shade
- Review Your Monitoring System
- Schedule a Professional Solar Inspection
Estimate your total savings, payments, and total energy usage with our FREE solar calculator.
CLEAN YOUR SOLAR PANELS
Fall often brings falling leaves, twigs, and other debris that can accumulate on your solar panels, reducing their efficiency. It’s essential to keep them clean and free of obstructions. Here’s how:
Clear Away Leaves & Twigs: Fall leaves and twigs can get stuck on your solar panels and reduce energy production. Carefully clear away leaves and twigs from your solar panels with a leaf blower, broom, or your hands. Make sure the leaves and twigs don’t get stuck under the solar panels and in the mounting system or racking.
Clean Off Dust & Dirt: Dust and dirt can accumulate on your solar panels and reduce energy production. Use water and a soft-bristle brush to clean your solar panels. Avoid abrasive materials and harsh chemicals that may scratch or damage your solar panels. For full instructions on how to clean your solar panels, visit our Solar Panel Cleaning Guide.
Professional Cleaning: If you’re unsure or if your panels are difficult to access, consider hiring a professional to clean them. This is also a good option if you have safety concerns. Getting up on a roof, using a ladder, and working in elevated locations can be dangerous. See our list of solar panel cleaning professionals in Oregon.
Along with cleaning your solar panels, you can also check if there are other issues. These issues could include cracks in solar panels, lose wiring, or other concerning signs. If you notice any of these problems, contact your solar company ASAP. You can also contact Green Ridge Solar for more information and advice.
CLEAN THE SOLAR MOUNTING SYSTEM
Fall leaves, twigs, and other debris can get stuck under your solar mounting system (AKA solar racking) and cause issues. Ideally, the space between your solar panels and roof should be clean and clear of any debris. But if leaves, twigs, and other material begin to collect in the mounting system, a few issues can arise.
The first issues leaves, twigs, and debris can cause is lack of airflow under your solar panels. This lack of airflow can lead to damp conditions that cause moss, mold, mildew, fungus, decay and rot on your roof. This is not just bad for your roof, it’s also bad for the wiring and materials within your solar panels and solar mounting equipment.
As winter sets in, leaves and debris under your solar panels can also cause snow and ice to build up. This collection of snow and ice can cause extra weight and strain on your roof. Normally this would not be a problem, as most roofs are built to withstand a lot of weight. But if your roof is older or compromised, this could lead to roof or structure damage.
Also, if snow and ice are collecting under your solar panels, this standing moisture could lead to damage if the water seeps into the roof. That’s why it’s important to make sure there are no leaves, twigs, or debris that could cause snow and ice to collect under the solar panels.
Finally, while it is rare, clumps of leaves and twigs under your solar panels could be a fire hazard. Anytime you have electrical components near flammable materials, such as dry leaves or twigs, there is the potential for fire. A frayed wire or a short circuit could spark a fire. That’s why it’s vital you ensure your solar mounting equipment is clean and that leaves, twigs, and debris are not collecting under your solar panels.
A side benefit of cleaning your solar panel mounting system is checking for other potential issues. These can include loose bolts, loose wires, or other issues with your solar mounting system, solar panels, or roof. If you notice any of these problems, contact your solar company ASAP. You can also contact Green Ridge Solar for more information and advice.2
CLEAN THE INVERTER
Your inverter is a critical component of your solar panel system. It is the brains of the solar panel system, converting direct current (DC) power from the solar panels into alternating current (AC) power your home can use. That’s why it’s important to ensure your inverter is clean and in good working condition. If your solar inverter becomes too dirty, it could lead to overheating and inefficiency.
Most solar inverters are enclosed and should not be opened. Also, it’s important to be careful using water around your solar inverter. Your solar inverter contains important electrical components that can fail and/or cause damage if mishandled.
That being said, you can still make sure the outside of your inverter is clean and clear of dust and debris. Using a brush or broom, sweep away any dust, debris, spiderwebs, etc. from the solar inverter. If there is dirt, bird droppings, or other caked-on materials, use a damp cloth to wipe the exterior surface clean.
While you are cleaning your solar inverter, it’s a good idea to check for any error codes or warning lights. If your solar inverter shows any error codes or warning lights, contact your solar company. You can also contact Green Ridge Solar for more information and advice.
CHECK FOR BIRDS & SQUIRRELS
Fall is when pests like birds and squirrels may attempt to build nests or hide around your solar panels. That’s why fall is a good time to check for signs of pest activity and address it to prevent any damage to your system and home.
A typical sign that birds are nesting in or under your solar panels is bird droppings on the solar panels. Many times, if birds are building nests under your solar panels, there will be a collection of white streaks where birds have been pooping as they enter and leave the nest. Another sign that birds are nesting in your solar panels is a collection of leaves or twigs under the solar panels. These nests can get quite large and cause issues with your solar panels, such as overheating, inefficiency, and moisture collecting near the clump of leaves.
If you want to get rid of birds and prevent them from nesting under your solar panels, the first step is to remove the nest. Once the nest is removed, a wire mesh or wire netting (sometimes called Critter Guard) can be attached around the sides of solar panels to prevent the birds from entering in the future.
A typical sign that squirrels are nesting under your solar panels is a collection of leaves and twigs. Again, these nests can get quite large and cause issues with your solar panels, such as overheating, inefficiency, and moisture collecting near the clump of leaves.
If you want to get rid of squirrels and prevent them from nesting under your solar panels, the first step is to remove the nest. Once the nest is removed, a wire mesh or wire netting (sometimes called Critter Guard) can be attached around the sides of solar panels to prevent the birds from entering in the future.
It’s important to prevent squirrels from nesting under your solar panels. Squirrels can chew on wires, causing damage and the potential for sparks, short circuits, damage to solar panels, and fire.
If you have questions about identifying and removing birds and squirrels from under your solar panels, contact your solar company. You can also contact Green Ridge Solar for more information and advice.
CHECK FOR SHADE
With the sun sitting lower in the sky during fall, it’s a good time to reevaluate your solar panels’ exposure to direct sunlight. Since most solar panel systems are installed in spring or summer, you might not know what your fall shade situation looks like. So here’s how to check your solar panel shade in fall.
On a sunny fall day, go outside and check your solar panels several times throughout the day. Look for any obstructions that are casting shade on your solar panels. This can include trees, branches, poles, etc. If you find any new shade or shadows on your solar panels, it’s a good idea to try removing the obstructions. Trim back branches or other objects that might cast shadows on your panels. This will ensure your solar panels are producing as much energy as possible all year long.
If you have questions about shading and making way for more sun for your solar panels, contact your solar company. You can also contact Green Ridge Solar for more information and advice.
REVIEW YOUR SOLAR MONITORING SYSTEM
Fall is a great time to review your solar panel system’s performance, looking for any unexpected drops in energy production that may indicate a problem with your panels or the inverter. This will also allow for your solar panels to be checked and serviced if necessary before winter weather sets in.
Most solar panel systems come with monitoring tools that allow you to keep an eye on energy production from your phone or laptop. Log into your solar monitoring system and check your solar energy production history. You will likely see a large amount of energy being produced in the summer and gradually falling off toward the beginning of fall and into winter. This is normal. The sun is lower in the sky during winter and leads to reduced solar energy production.
However, if you notice a sudden spike or drop in energy production, you want to pay close attention. This could be a sign that one or more of your solar panels are having issues. It could also mean there is a problem with wiring or an inverter.
Your solar monitoring system might also show you how much energy individual solar panels are producing. If you notice that one or more solar panels are producing less energy then they should be, it could be a sign there is an issue with those solar panels.
If you notice reduced energy production from your solar panel system or from individual solar panels, contact your solar company. You can also contact Green Ridge Solar for more information and advice.
If you need solar panel services such as production monitoring or troubleshooting, contact Green Ridge Solar. We service solar panel systems from other solar companies, and we’re glad to help.
SCHEDULE A PROFESSIONAL SOLAR INSPECTION
While there are many solar maintenance tasks you can handle yourself, it’s also a good idea to schedule a professional inspection of your solar panel system. This is especially true if you’re not familiar with the technical aspects of maintenance.
Professionals can identify and address issues that you might miss, ensuring your system is running efficiently. They can also provide advice for optimizing your solar energy and provide future solar services.
As fall rolls on by and winter quickly approaches, schedule your professional solar inspection. Make sure your solar panels are operating as best they can. Ensure any pest issues and inverter error codes are addressed. Get well acquainted with your solar monitoring software. And learn more about expanding your solar panel system, adding battery backup, EV charging, and other useful services.
FALL MAINTENANCE FOR SOLAR PANELS IS IMPORTANT
Fall maintenance for your solar panel system is essential to keep it operating at peak efficiency. By regularly cleaning your panels, checking for shading issues, inspecting the mounting system, cleaning the inverter, and addressing other potential concerns, you can enjoy uninterrupted, clean energy generation throughout the fall season.
With proper maintenance, you’ll not only reduce energy costs but also contribute to a more sustainable future. So, embrace the beauty of autumn, and keep your solar panels in tip-top shape for optimal performance.
Contact Green Ridge Solar today with all your solar panel, battery backup, and EV charging questions. And chat with us about solar services that keep your solar panel system working at peak efficiency and without issues.
Estimate your total savings, payments, and total energy usage with our FREE solar calculator.