Maintaining a solar panel system over its lifetime involves a range of essential services to ensure its efficiency, longevity, and optimal performance. From routine cleaning and inspections to addressing technical components and environmental factors, a comprehensive approach to solar panel maintenance guarantees consistent energy production and safeguards your investment. In this guide, we will explore the various services you can expect to perform throughout the lifespan of your solar panel system, each contributing to maximizing its benefits and minimizing potential issues.
In This Article:
- Solar Panel Cleaning
- Visual Inspection
- Electrical Systems Checks
- Inverter Maintenance
- Solar Panel System Communications
- Solar Monitoring & Performance Analysis
- Trimming Vegetation
- Snow & Ice Removal
- Sealing & Waterproofing
- Replacing Solar Panels
- Solar System Upgrades/Adding Panels
- Add Battery Backup
- Battery Maintenance
- Warranty & Professional Servicing
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SOLAR PANEL CLEANING
Dust, dirt, bird droppings, and other debris can accumulate on the surface of solar panels over time, reducing their efficiency. This accumulation of debris on the solar panels is often cleaned off with rain and wind, but that is not always enough to keep the solar panels clean and efficient. That’s why a regular solar panel cleaning is a good idea for the health and efficiency of your solar panels.
The quickest and safest way to clean your solar panels is to hire an expert. Solar panel cleaners have the right equipment, knowledge, and safety procedures to get the job done right. Green Ridge Solar can connect you to solar panel cleaners who will get your solar panels squeaky clean and running at maximum efficiency in no time.
While it’s safest to hire experts to clean your solar panels, you can accomplish the same goal with the right equipment, enough time, and fair amount of caution. Here are a few of the key things to keep in mind when cleaning your solar panels.
Items you will need:
- Carwash brush or soft bristled brush
- Microfiber cloth
- Dawn soap or light, gentle detergent
- Long hose (not pressure washer)
- Spray panels with a low pressure hose to remove any large debris. Sometimes this step alone is enough to remove debris
- Mix a mild soap solution (a few drops per gallon), and gently scrub it onto the panels with the car wash brush or microfiber cloth
- Rinse the soap solution off using the same low pressure hose, and repeat as needed.
Things to Avoid:
- Don’t use a pressure washer to clean your panels, as the higher pressure can cause scratches and work debris further into the panels’ structure.
- Don’t use harsh chemicals, as these can damage the coatings and sealants on the panels
- Don’t scrub vigorously, or use abrasive tools, as these can scratch or damage the panel’s surface
- Don’t climb on the panels, as they are slippery even when dry, and can be damaged by excess weight
Depending on the local environment, cleaning might be needed a few times per year.
For more information and details on how to clean your solar panels, visit our Solar Panel Cleaning Guide.
VISUAL INSPECTION OF SOLAR PANELS
One of the easiest bits of solar panel maintenance is visual inspection. It’s important to take a look at your solar panels from time to time to ensure everything looks ok. Regular visual inspections are important to identify any physical damage, such as cracks, hotspots, or discolored areas on the panels.
If cracks appear on your solar panels, it could be a sign of impact from objects like tree limbs, hail stones, or even golf balls. Unfortunately, cracked solar panels cannot be repaired and must be replaced. Solar panel cracks can lead to solar panel failure and should be replaced by a professional solar installer.
It’s also important to look out for hotspots on your solar panels. Hotspots can identified by where snow, ice, or frost melt quicker than others. If you suspect your solar panels might have a hotspot, contact a solar professional right away. Solar panel hotspots can be a sign that solar panel is defective and could cause issues.
If your solar panels have discolored spots, it could be a sign of issues with the solar panel material. If the discoloration looks like it could have been caused by an electrical issue, shut as sparks or a short circuit, contact a solar professional immediately. Discoloration could also come from dirty spots on your solar panels that just need a thorough cleaning (see above). If you suspect your solar panels system has discolored solar panels, contact a local solar professional.
Finally, you should also be on the lookout for loose or damaged wiring. If you notice wires that are hanging down where they shouldn’t be or wired that are cracked or damaged, contact a local solar company immediately. Loose or damaged wires can be dangerous and also cause damage to your home or solar system.
Contact Green Ridge Solar if you notice any cracked or discolored solar panels, signs of hotspots, or loose or damaged wiring. We are local solar experts who can help you with all your solar panel system service needs.
ELECTRICAL SYSTEMS CHECKS
Periodic electrical system checks are vital for the health and operation of your solar panel system. Electrical system checks involve examining the wiring, connections, and inverters for signs of wear, damage, or loose connections. This ensures that the system is functioning safely and efficiently.
Your solar company will inspect the wires to ensure they are not loose or damaged. Lose or damaged wires can pose a serious hazard to your health and the health of your solar panel system and the safety of your home. If the solar company finds any loose or damaged wires, they can secure or replace them and ensure your system is safe and you and your home are protected.
You solar company will also inspect other parts of your solar panel system, such as the inverters. Solar inverters can be on the back of the solar panels (these are microinverters) or in a separate location, such as on the side of your house or on a meter pedestal. Solar inverters convert the direct current (DC) power from your solar panels into alternating current (AC) power that your home uses. These inverters have a important job and are often the first thing to cause issue on a solar panels sytem.
If your solar inverters are damaged or defective, they might be covered under warranty. Your solar company can help determine if your solar inverters can be serviced or if they need to be replaced. The solar company can also work with the inverter manufacturer to determine if the solar inverter can be replaced under warranty.
Contact Green Ridge Solar today for an electrical system check. We can identify and repair loose or damaged wiring and also determine if your solar inverters need repaired or replaced.
Solar inverters are the brains of a solar panel system. Solar inverters convert the DC energy produced by solar panels into AC energy for use in your home. And because inverters work so hard, they may need maintenance or replacement during the system’s lifespan, as they can be subject to wear and tear.
There are two main types of solar inverter: string inverters and microinverters. String inverters are a device that is separate from the solar panels and installed on the side of a building or other structure. All the solar panels tie into one or more string inverters and convert the DC solar power to usable AC power. Microinverters are attached directly to each solar panel and convert DC energy from each individual solar panel into usable AC power.
String inverters are easier to see and notice if there are any issues. Normally a string inverter will have lights and/or a display to indicate functionality. If certain lights flash, change color, or turn off entirely, or if the display is showing an error message, it might indicate an issue with your inverter or solar panel system. To diagnose an issue with your string inverter, contact your solar company for further guidance. Green Ridge can also provide solar inverter maintenance and diagnosis. Contact us today for help with your solar inverter.
Issues with a microinverters are more difficult to notice. Because microinverters are on the back of solar panels, they are not easily visible and don’t have lights or displays to indicate problems. Most microinverter issues are recognized through solar monitoring software or through changes in your solar productivity. Solar monitoring software will often provide a detailed layout of your solar panel system, including individual solar panels and microinverters. Within the solar monitoring software, you should be able to notice any issues with microinverter functionality or solar panel production and seek out service from there.
If you are having issues with your solar inverter, contact your solar company. Green Ridge can also provide solar inverter maintenance and diagnosis. Contact us today for help with your solar inverter.
SOLAR PANEL SYSTEM COMMUNICATIONS
All the components of your solar panel system needs to communicate properly with one another to function properly. Solar panels needs to communicate with the inverters that need to communicate with the utility grid and solar monitoring software. If there is a breakdown in your solar panel system communications, it can lead to inefficiency, malfunction, or lack of monitoring.
One reason for a lack of solar panel system communications is due to updated WiFi setting. This often occurs when a homeowner or business gets a new internet router or updates their WiFi password. That password change can cause the inverter to stop communicating properly. This can usually be easily fixed by reconfiguring the inverter’s communication setting or resetting the WiFi or router password to the original password.
The lack of solar panel system communications can also be caused by issues with the router or the inverter themselves. Communication software or hardware can run into glitches, malfunctions, or simply stop working. In those instances, the software might need to be reset, reconfigured, or reinstalled. If the issue is related to hardware, that hardware might need to to be reconfigured or replaced.
Sometimes the solar panel communications issues are related to the strength of the connection or interference. If you downgraded your WiFi speed, the solar communications systems might struggle to send or receive their signals and information properly. On the other hand, obstacles or interference could be causing the communications issues. If a new building is erected between the router and the inverter, the signal could struggle to reach its target. Similarly, if a device that emits certain signals or frequencies can disrupt or interfere with WiFi signals and cause communication issues.
If you are experiencing solar system communication issues, contact Green Ridge Solar today. Our solar professionals can diagnose, track down, and resolve your solar communications issues.
SOLAR MONITORING & PERFORMANCE ANALYSIS
Many modern solar panel systems come with monitoring systems that track energy production and system performance. Regularly reviewing these reports can help identify any significant drops in energy output, allowing for timely intervention if needed.
Most solar systems nowadays come with solar system monitoring software. This solar system monitoring software will provide important and interesting information about your solar panel system, such as production of individual solar panels, microinverter performance, and how much money you are saving. Many solar system monitoring software are available on both your computer’s browser and an app on your phone, allowing you so monitor your solar panels from anywhere.
Your solar system monitoring software is a great tool to monitor and diagnose any issues with your solar panel system. These issues can appear as a reduction in solar production for one or more solar panels, or for your system as a whole. It can also appear as a notification that one or more of your microinverters are not functioning properly.
If you notice changes in solar production or issues with your solar panels or inverters, contact your solar company. Green Ridge Solar also offers solar services that can help diagnose and resolve issues with your solar system.
Trees, shrubs, and other vegetation can cause issues with your solar panel system. Because solar panels need light to function, trees and other vegetation can greatly reduce solar productivity if they block sunlight. That’s why it’s important to monitor the growth and condition of trees and other vegetation around your solar panels.
Trees are the biggest factor to monitor around solar panel systems. Trees can grow quickly and grow quite large. Even if trees were not in the way or casting shadows when your solar panels were first installed, that can change over time. It’s important to monitor the growth of trees around solar panels to ensure they don’t begin to cast shadows over your solar panels and reduce solar productivity. If trees to begin to shade your solar panels, you may have to trim or cut down the trees to restore solar energy production.
It’s also important to monitor the health of trees around solar panels. If there are trees that are looking unhealthy or limbs that seem to be dying or are ready to fall, they need to be addressed as soon as possible. Dead, dying, damaged, or unstable trees and limbs can pose serious hazards to solar panels. If a tree or tree limb falls on a solar panel system, it can severely damage or destroy the solar panel system. If you notice trees that are dead, dying, damaged, or unstable around your solar panel system, contact a local arborist or tree service.
Another factor to consider with trees around solar panels is leaf drop and accumulation. If trees are dropping lots of leaves onto your solar panels, it can block sunlight from reaching solar panels and reduce solar energy production. Those leaves can also get trapped and accumulate under the solar panels and near wiring. Leaves that are trapped and collecting under solar panels and around wiring can pose fire hazards. Trapped leaves can also increase the ambient temperature of your solar panels, which reduced the efficiency and production of your solar panels. That’s why it’s important to monitor leaf accumulation and clean leaves from on top of and below your solar panels as needed.
SNOW & ICE REMOVAL FROM SOLAR PANELS
In winter or in snowy climates, snow and ice accumulation on solar panels can hinder energy production. While solar panels can still generate power while under snow and ice, cleaning off the snow and ice can boost energy production.
In most cases, snow or ice will melt off the surface of your solar panels. Solar panels are dark colored and slick, which leads snow and ice to melt quicker and slide off easier than other surfaces.
However, if you wish to clean snow and ice off your solar panels, it is important to consider health and safety factors. Getting on a roof that is covered in snow or ice is dangerous and provides several hazards. Here are some of the considerations to think about when cleaning snow and ice off solar panels:
Height off the ground: If your solar panels are installed on the roof or high above the ground, cautions is advised. Snow and ice create slick surfaces that can lead to slips, falls, and injury. It’s advised you wear fall-protection equipment if you are working above 4 feet off the ground (OSHA standards).
Falling ice and snow: It’s also important to be mindful of falling snow and ice when cleaning your solar panels. Piles of snow and ice can break free from your roof or solar panels and trap you. This can lead to hypothermia or suffocation. Falling snow and ice can also contain debris or sharp objects, like ice shards, which also have the potential to cause injury.
Clothing: If you have decided to clean snow and ice off your solar panels, be sure to wear the appropriate clothing. To keep warm and dry, dress in layers and wear water-resistant clothing. It’s also important to wear insulated gloves with good grip to prevent frostbite and slipping. To prevent slips and falls, wear shoes or boots with antislip soles. These steps can go a long way in preventing hypothermia, frostbite, and injury.
Overexertion: Finally, be aware of your health and physical limits when cleaning snow and ice off your solar panels. Moving around and working in cold, snowy, wet, and icy conditions can take a lot of energy and stamina. This level of exertion can really test a person’s physical fitness and overall health. Therefore, it is important to be mindful of your physical capabilities and any health conditions that might limit your ability to work in winter conditions. If you are not in the best of health, have a heart condition, high blood pressure, or are overweight, then cleaning your solar panels might not be a good idea.
As you can see, clearing snow and ice off your solar panels can be a dangerous job. You should exercise extreme caution or contact a solar cleaning professional if you want snow or ice cleaned off your solar panels.
SEALING & WATERPROOFING AROUND SOLAR PANELS
Why don’t solar panels cause your roof to leak? It’s because of special sealing and waterproofing material between your solar panels and your roof. However, over time, weather exposure can deteriorate seals and weatherproofing around solar panels and mounting systems. Ensuring these seals are intact helps prevent water leakage and damage.
Sealing and waterproofing around your solar panels and mounting systems are fairly hardy and should last the lifetime of your solar panel system. However, that does not mean all solar panel systems are without leaks. If you notice signs of moisture (mold, mildew, discoloration, dampness, dripping, etc) within your attic or upper story under your solar panels, contact your solar company. This might be a sign the seals or waterproofing between you solar panels, mounting systems, and roof could de damaged.
REPLACING SOLAR PANELS
Sometimes the unfortunate happens and your solar panels are damaged or malfunctional and need replaced. Fortunately, replacing solar panels is fairly easy. Because solar panel systems are modular, meaning they are composed of interchangeable parts, one solar panel can easily be swapped out for another.
If you have a solar panel that is damaged or malfunctioning, it’s best to work with a solar company to replace the solar panel. The solar company can make sure the solar panel is replaced with the right size and type of module and tie it back into the system. The solar company can also diagnose if the issue was caused by other factors and also ensure your solar panel system is running at optimum efficiency and peak performance.
Contact Green Ridge Solar today if you need a solar panel replaced. Our solar experts have a broad range of experience with all types of solar panel systems (including those we didn’t install). Contact us today!
SOLAR SYSTEM UPGRADES/ADDING PANELS
Solar panel systems are often installed to meet a household’s current energy needs with the currently available technology and resources. However, over time, a household’s energy needs or wants might change. Also, the available technology and resources are constantly improving and becoming more available. As a result, some solar panel owners may want to upgrade their solar panel systems.
The most common reason someone wants to update their solar panel system is due to increased energy demands. Family energy needs change over time. They decide to add appliances or update gas appliances to electric. They might also add a new baby or electric vehicle to the home, both of which require more energy. In those cases, adding more solar panels to cover increased energy demand is a great idea. That’s also the beauty of solar panel systems: You can add more solar panels as your energy needs increase.
If your solar panel system is old, it might be time to look into upgrading your system. Solar panels, inverters, battery backup, and other solar technology have come a long way in a short amount of time. Updating your solar equipment could lead to greater efficiency, greater solar energy production, as well as more money in your pocket from solar savings.
ADD BATTERY BACKUP
After installing solar panels, some families and businesses decide they also want battery backup. And that’s a great idea! Solar panels and battery backup are a match made in heaven. Solar panels can produce a ton of energy, and the batteries can store the excess energy for later use. The stored energy can be used during power outages, to charge an electric vehicle (EV), or even to offset high utility rates resulting from Time Of Use (TOU) billing structures.
It’s important to determine how much energy storage you need or want when installing battery backup. Batteries can only store a limited amount of energy. Therefore, you will need to determine how much energy you want to store. This will require working with the solar company or battery installer to outline what appliance you want to backup or charge and for how long. Large appliances such as fridges, freezers, water heaters, air conditioners, or electric vehicles can require a lot of energy. The more energy you wish to backup, the more batteries you will need.
Chat with Green Ridge Solar to today about battery backup. We can help determine how much energy storage you will need and more many batteries would be required.
If your solar panel system already includes energy storage and battery backup, regular maintenance and monitoring of the batteries’ condition are essential to ensure their longevity and efficiency. Batteries can degrade over time and store less and less energy as they age, so inspections and maintenance are important to ensure peak performance.
One way to check the health of your battery backup system is by visually inspecting the battery system and its components. Check for any signs of physical damage, corrosion, or leaks. Ensure that cables, connectors, and terminals are securely fastened and free from any wear or damage.
Also, most modern battery backup systems come with monitoring software that provides real-time data on the performance and health of the system. This software allows you to track parameters such as state of charge, charging and discharging rates, and overall system efficiency. Regularly review this data to identify any unusual trends or sudden deviations.
It’s also important to perform routine maintenance tasks recommended by the manufacturer. This might include cleaning the battery and its components, tightening connections, and ensuring proper ventilation. Following the maintenance schedule can prevent minor issues from escalating into major problems.
Contact Green Ridge Solar to ensure the best performance of your battery backup system. Our battery professionals can inspect, test, and diagnose your battery backup system and answer any questions you have. Contact us today.
WARRANTY & PROFESSIONAL SERVICING
If your solar panels, inverters, batteries, or other components need repaired or replaced, be sure to check on warranties or guaranteed associated with those products. Many solar panel, inverter, and battery manufacturers offer warranties on their products. If you experience issues covered by the warranty, you may need to contact the manufacturer or a professional installer for repairs or replacements.
Your solar company might be able to assist you in contacting the manufacturer and determining if the warranty covers repairs or replacements. They can also help to repair or replace those items.
Do you have warranty questions or need your solar panels, inverter, or battery backup services or replaced? Green Ridge Solar can help. Contact us today.
SERVICING YOUR SOLAR PANELS IS IMPORTANT
It’s important to note that while some maintenance tasks can be performed by homeowners, others may require professional assistance to ensure the safety of both the system and the individuals involved. Regular maintenance can help extend the lifespan of your solar panel system and optimize its energy production.
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