Having a solar system can be exciting. You are doing your part to help the environment and you are saving money while doing it.
However, there will come a time after installation when you will wonder about maintenance.
As with everything, there are times to DIY and times not to DIY. When it comes to maintaining your solar system, doing it yourself can end up being high in both cost and danger.
Solar panels are generally low maintenance
One of the most attractive features of solar panel systems is their ability to endure the elements. Because they are designed to be out of doors for decades, solar panels can go months without needing any maintenance.
In addition, nature plays an integral part in solar panel maintenance. Rain typically does a pretty good job of keeping your solar panels clean.
However, making sure your solar system is running in optimal condition does require some regular upkeep. In places where rainfall is infrequent, depending on Mother Nature might not be enough. Airborne particles like pollen and dust, plan residue, bird feces, dirt and grime can accumulate on the solar panel and reduce the efficiency of your solar system.
How solar panels work
To understand why dirt and grime reduce efficiency, you have to understand how solar panels work. Solar panels are made up of cells that contain semiconductors like silicon. Cells have a negative side and a positive side with one side containing more electrons than the other.
When sunlight hits the cells, the electrons get excited and begin to move. This creates an energy that can be harnessed as electricity.
Because it is the act of sunlight hitting the panel that initiates the whole process, the need for clean cells is vital. A dirty cell cannot receive an optimal amount of sunlight. Therefore, your solar system will not be able to generate the optimal amount of electricity.<
That begins to add up as less efficiency begins to lessen cost saving benefits of installing solar panels.
In order to avoid these losses, some people try to clean and maintain their own solar systems despite certain dangers associated with it.
The downside of DIY maintenance
Sometimes it is best to let the professionals do the job. Some solar panel owners clean them with a mix of soap and water. That is usually fine for systems on the ground, although even with ground systems, homeowners should be careful of using water around any electrical systems (which is exactly what solar panels are). Without the proper training, trying to clean your own solar system can be a risk. This is especially true for rooftop solar systems.
You should consult your manufacturer’s guidelines for cleaning your panels. Some solar systems can require special cleaning solutions, and using the wrong solution can cause damage. Here are some other things that can go wrong:
Cracks – Solar panels are created to absorb sunlight. In the summertime, solar panels can get extremely hot. Attempting to wash a panel with cold water from a water hose can cause cracks to form in the panels. Small shadows can be cast from these cracks, which further lowers the efficiency of your system.
Scratches – Using incorrect cleaning methods and supplies can also be detrimental to the efficiency of your solar system. Abrasive cleaning supplies like cleaning powders scratch the surface of the panel.
Residue – Washing panels with detergents often leaves behind residue. This residue gives dust an easier surface to stick to. Essentially, using detergents can simply lead to dirtier panels in the future.
Water waste – If you are getting the water hose out to rinse off your panels, you might want to consider the time of day you do it. During the afternoon or times of high temperatures, water evaporates quickly after being sprayed onto the panels. Streaks of dirt and grime can be seen after cleaning. Failure to clean the panels the first time results in needlessly wasted water.
Injury – Rooftop solar systems present the most risk for homeowners seeking to do maintenance work on their solar system. A simple wrong step can lead to a fall that could cause you serious injury. You also risk electrical shock from the inverters used by many solar systems.
If you are uncomfortable with being on top of a roof or with working with electrical systems and lack training and safety gear, it is best to simply seek professional help.
Fortunately, some installers of solar energy systems provide an alternative to DIY maintenance. RGS Energy, the first solar energy system provider and installer in the United States, provides free maintenance with its solar panel installation.
To learn more about the ease of owning a solar energy system from RGS Energy, visit www.RGSEnergy.com.