A solar system is an investment, and as such, you’ll want to make the most of it. In addition to solar panel monitoring, regular solar panel cleaning and maintenance will make sure your system functions optimally for many years to come.
Luckily, solar panel maintenance and cleaning aren’t too complicated, and most DIY solar users are capable of managing upkeep on their own. It often includes simple checks of the wiring system, electrical, and batteries, in addition to a simple cleaning like removing debris.
Solar Panel Cleaning
How often your panels need to be cleaned will typically depend on the location and climate of your installation. For residential systems, regular rainfall may be enough to keep panels clean and free of debris.
However, you may find that manual cleaning is necessary if there is a buildup of tree debris, dust, or bird droppings atop your panels. In this situation, simply rinse the panels with a hose, and if necessary, wipe them down using a small amount of dish soap and a soft sponge or cloth. Be sure not to use anything abrasive, as it can damage the solar panels.
Wiring & Electrical
At least once a year, we recommend inspecting electrical conduit, fittings, ground conductors, and any other visible electrical hardware for security and signs of damage.
Inspect PV wiring/cables to make sure they are not touching the roof, or otherwise unsecured. All PV wire should be securely fastened to the racking or panel frame using wire clips.
Racking refers to how solar panels are mounted and what hardware is effectively used. They can be roof-mounted or ground-mounted, and there are also less common mounts including tilt legs and pole mounts. Before you choose, it’s essential to consider the type of structure, weather, cost, and other factors.
For simple cleaning, inspect racking for signs of damage, debris accumulation, or loose hardware at least once per year. This is easier to do for a ground mount system, but if you have a roof-mounted array, checking the racking in places where you can (with proper fall protection employed, like a harness) may go a long way in keeping your system running optimally.
If your system has a battery bank, you’ll want to set up a regular battery maintenance schedule to maintain their lifespan and efficiency.
Battery maintenance needs differ based on type; lithium-ion batteries require little to no maintenance after initial setup, whereas others need regular upkeep to stay in good condition.
The following are some general tips for battery maintenance:
- Program voltage set points, so the battery bank charges at the proper voltage.
- Refill flooded lead-acid batteries with distilled water every 2-4 weeks, or as needed.
- Regularly check battery state of charge. Apply an equalization charge to flooded batteries every 90 days. (Do not equalize sealed lead-acid or lithium batteries.)
- Terminal connections and cables should be cleaned to prevent corrosion.