Solar Maintenance Blog

Solar Panel Maintenance Requirements: What You Need to Know

June 3, 2019

As you begin exploring your solar options, you’ll often hear that solar panels are “maintenance-free.”

After all, with no moving parts, there’s less overall wear & tear.

Not surprisingly, installers go out of their way to highlight these benefits. Doing so allows them to close the sale. To further allay any fears, most installers correctly point out that your panels are warrantied for 20 to 25 years. And many of the more reputable installers also offer workmanship warranties that protect you from labor-related defects.

Against this backdrop, solar really does seem to be maintenance-free.

But is that truly the case?

The answer may surprise you.

The Truth about Solar Panel Maintenance Requirements

Over the 20 to 25 years of your PV panels’ warrantied lifetime, any number of issues can arise – all of which will require intervention of some sort.

And unlike with every other electronic or mechanical item you own (i.e. cars, air-conditioners, mobile devices), solar panels can actually save you money when they’re working properly – and lose you money when they’re not.

Below are 3 of the most likely maintenance-related problems you’ll face after installing solar panels.

1. Solar Panel Cleaning

Arguably the easiest maintenance step for most homeowners is solar panel cleaning. Over time, dust, dirt, pollen, and other debris can accumulate – limiting the sunlight that hits your PV system.

This accumulation negatively impacts how much energy your solar installation can generate and will affect your monthly solar savings.

Occasionally rinsing your panels with a garden hose is better than nothing. Just keep in mind that:

  • If you’re using untreated water, residue and grime may be left behind.
  • Streaking is another common problem (just as with washing windows).
  • You can only clean your panels during certain times of the day (when it’s not too hot).

Of course – all of this requires getting onto the roof or trying to clean your panels from a ladder.

Solar panel cleaning is absolutely necessary to protect your energy production, but it hardly qualifies as “maintenance-free” care.

2. Fixing Internal Malfunctions

Internal malfunctions like faulty wiring, glitchy panels or inverters, and shoddy workmanship can all lead to:

  • Performance dips in your system.
  • Reduced savings for your wallet.

Keep in mind that any time you place power electronics outside – exposed to the elements – there’ll always be a chance that something breaks.

The good news is that your panels and other major solar components are all warrantied. However, you may have to pay out-of-pocket to remove faulty panels before installing free replacements.

The bad news is that wiring and workmanship aren’t always covered. It ultimately depends on the original installer’s warranty agreement (assuming you even have one in the first place).

Whether you are fully covered or not, it’s important that you correct the underlying issue to keep your savings going.

3. Repairing External Damage

Hurricanes, hail, tree limbs, and other “Acts of God” can break or dislodge your solar panels and severely hamper your savings—or even damage your roof.

This type of damage usually isn’t covered by warranty. However, most insurance policies include solar panel protection. Homeowners should check with their homeowners insurance company to confirm their solar installation is covered.

How Do You Know When Solar Panel Maintenance Is Necessary?

The above represents a tiny fraction of things that can go wrong over the next 20 to 25 years. But except for major damage, it might not be obvious that your solar panels are underperforming – until you receive your quarterly utility statement and discover how much money you didn’t save.

Depending on the scope of the problem, those lost savings can easily exceed many hundreds of dollars.

This is why the most important component of any solar maintenance plan is real-time PV system monitoring.

How Solar Monitoring Works

With solar monitoring, a meter is attached to your PV panels and collects energy generation data and sends it to a remote monitoring station.

This information is available online – allowing you to check your PV system’s performance in real-time.

However, it’s also possible to configure your solar monitoring system to send you alerts the moment something goes wrong. These notifications remove the need to check your system for dust build-up, faulty wires, or anything else.

No intervention is required unless you receive an alert.

With solar monitoring in place, you can be confident that your installation’s production is what it should be. That way, your monthly solar savings are guaranteed.

Want to Learn More about Solar Power Monitoring?

Compared to all the electronic devices in your home, solar PV carries some of the lowest maintenance requirements.

But if you want to enjoy 25+ years of uninterrupted savings, it’s important you understand that solar maintenance is necessary – despite what your installer may have told you.

To learn why customers choose our comprehensive solar maintenance, cleaning, and monitoring solutions, schedule a free consultation with us today.

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