Solar power is one of the most of common methods of generating renewable energy and also among the cheapest sources of power in terms of operating costs, although it does come with a relatively high initial investment. The generation of solar energy requires the use of photovoltaic cells which are arranged in a matrix that optimises the energy produced by controlling various factors that influence the power output such as exposure to sunlight, temperature etc. Solar panels contain such a matrix of cells and operate by absorbing the energy from sunlight. While the continual generation of energy contributes little to the wear of solar panels, they can deteriorate due to external environmental factors such as weather, temperature changes, impacts etc., which can impact their performance and efficiency. With proper maintenance routines and average load, a solar panel is expected to last upwards of 30 years. The primary maintenance activities are simply cleaning the solar panel, for which a guide can be found at solar panel cleaning tips and conducting routine tests on the efficiency of the panels.
The need for maintenance
Depending on the environmental conditions, solar panels need little to no maintenance and in extreme cases, several times a year is a likely maintenance schedule whereas in most cases once every few years would be more than enough. Since solar panels require the light from the sun to fall on the voltaic cells, the main concern in the surface area on which light incidents being covered by leaves and other debris which needs to be wiped away. Snow can also cover the panels and render them inoperable and can also damage the panels if a large mass of snow accumulates on top of the panel.
The type of solar panels often makes no difference to the maintenance aspects as the difference in technology is minor – and the type usually simply refers to the location of the panels. Ground mounted solar panels are maintained in almost exactly the same way as roof mounted solar panels aside from the fact that ground mounted panels are easier to access but are more susceptible to leaves and dirt.
Since the primary maintenance activity is cleaning the surface of the panels, it is recommended to use leaf blowers, and rinse with water to dislodge debris and clean the dirt. Abrasive tools such as hard brushes may scratch the panels and using corrosive cleaning agents such as car wash. It is also not recommended to use hot water to clean the solar panels (even to melt snow/ice).
Repair and Replacement
It is highly unlikely that a solar panel would require replacement regularly, but accidents or defects can occur in electronics. If this is the case, it is best to obtain the services of a professional who will be better equipped to dismantle and replace solar panel systems without disrupting the other components of the system. Since most solar panel providers guarantee their panels’ longevity, it may be possible to claim warranty on defects that require replacement.