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7 Tips for Proper Maintenance of Solar Panels

Written by, Bojana Atanasovska

Updated November, 16, 2021

Solar panels are a great way to save money on an electric bill and reduce carbon footprint.

But do they entail high maintenance? Is rain enough for self-cleaning?

We’ll help you understand the ins and outs of proper maintenance of solar panels so that you can increase the lifespan and efficiency of your purchase. 

1.Keep the solar panels out of the shade

Shading can reduce solar panel efficiency by 20 to 40%, so always ensure no physical structures like trees or other buildings are blocking the sunlight

This doesn’t mean you have to cut down trees shading the system, but trimming them periodically will go a long way towards maximum energy production.

2. Keep an eye on the inverters

Check the components of your system, like the solar panel inverter and the micro-inverter on the panels, for potential damages. Green lights on the inverter are a good sign, but if the warning lights go off, there’s an issue that needs to be addressed.

3. Document performance daily

Keep track of your energy yield every day. This will give you a basis for comparison and make it easier to tell if something is off. Take note of cloudy days, too, so you know what could cause inconsistencies in production.

4. Avoid DIY solar installations

Let those with knowledge and experience handle installations to avoid complications. Since you’re putting a good amount of money into these panels, you might as well be on the safe side and hire reputable installers. 

The good news: some companies even cover the installation and maintenance costs as part of their services. 

5. Get your panels serviced regularly 

Hire service technicians to check the system at least once a year to avoid spending money on unexpected and major repairs. Solar panel maintenance cost could go for £100, and repair costs can vary from £80 to £1,500, depending on how serious the damage is. 

6. Clean your solar panels

  • Clean when the weather is cooler, like in the morning. Plus, morning dew makes dirt much easier to clean off. 
  • Shut down your solar panel system. Remember that you’re dealing with an electronic device. Follow your manufacturer’s instructions for shutting down the whole solar main switch. Avoid washing off any wiring too.
  • Always clean roof-mounted solar panels from the ground. It’s also a good idea to use a long-handed wiper so you can actually reach the panels. Take care not to slip on the roof, so use a safety net or harness, or better yet, call professionals.
  • Never use abrasive soaps or a sponge. Use a solar panel cleaning kit, biodegradable soap, or contact your local installer for cleaning agent recommendations. Only use a soft cloth or brush to avoid any scratches on the surface.
  • Avoid pressure washers. Using high pressure might damage the panels. The use of a garden house, however, is acceptable. Use only lukewarm water as panels are made of tempered glass, which could crack if you pour hot water on them. 
  • Hire a professional cleaning service. If you think you can’t do it yourself, don’t hesitate to call professionals. Solar panel cleaning prices in the UK go from £100 to £150 for households with around 20 panels. Overall, not a huge cost considering the service and peace of mind you will be getting in return.

7. Check the warranty of solar panels. 

Most of the manufacturers on the UK market offer coverage between 15 and 20 years, with some even providing you with 25 years of product and performance warranties.

Common Causes of Solar System Damage

It’s next to impossible to properly maintain your solar system if you are unaware of what can damage it. 

  • Dirt building up on panels

Accumulated pollen, dirt, and debris can adversely affect your solar system’s performance, so make sure you keep the panels clean. 

  • Animals

Birds or squirrels nesting under your panels or other animals damaging your panels is common in the UK. In this case, you could install plastic strips under the panels or invest in roof-integrated panels to stop animals from settling under your panels. 

  • Weather conditions

Extreme weather conditions such as hail storms, tornadoes, and thunderstorms can do some serious damage to your PV array. A professional solar panel service should provide the right set-up (placement, direction and angle) if you live in a high-risk area. 

Fallen twigs could also physically damage your system—another reason why trees around the solar panels should be trimmed. 

  • Micro-cracks 

These cracks can grow into larger ones, so it’s important to fix them in time. 

  • Inverter issues 

The primary function of a solar panel inverter is to allow a household to use the electricity from solar panels. Solar inverters do not typically last as long as solar panels, so they need to be replaced more often. Solar inverters cost between £500 to £2,000—an investment worth making if you want to extend the lifespan of your solar system. 

  • Hot spots 

These refer to the regions on the solar array that become overloaded. Luckily, there are solar panels with built-in technology that stop the formation of hot spots.

  • Arc faults 

PV arrays can cause fires, mainly because of an arc fault. Arc faults happen when there are loose connections, corrosion of joints, water ingress, ants biting into cable insulation, failed DC isolator, or degradation of cable insulation. To prevent this from happening, regularly maintain and service the solar system. 

Say Hello to Sunshine-y Savings!

Stop worrying about skyrocketing costs on solar panels repairs and maintenance. Simply consider them like your other household items but with extra help from professional technicians now and then. You should manage the regular maintenance required easily and enjoy the monetary savings from using these solar panels in the long run.

Frequently Asked Questions And Their Answers

How to clean solar panels in the UK?

Let the professionals do it if you have a roof-mounted system. Save yourself from accidents and potentially damaging your panels or your roof.

Ground-mounted setups can be cleaned using non-abrasive materials, a garden hose, and a soft cloth. 

Always remember to shut down the system first.

Do solar panels need cleaning?

Yes, but probably not as often as you would think. Most solar panels are self-cleaning, especially in the UK, where there are frequent rains.

Cleaning can be done twice a year or depending on the potential dirt buildup in your surroundings. Daily monitoring is helpful here as it can determine whether or not your panels are still at optimal performance.

Do solar panels need yearly maintenance?

Yes, it’s good practice to have your solar panels checked at least once a year for potential hazards. Damaged wiring or natural degradation can occur in the long run, and regular maintenance of solar panels can help in prolonging the system’s lifespan.

Bojana is my name and writing is my game. I am a content writer from Bitola who is always interested in the latest research in almost all areas of life. I have a Bachelor’s degree in English literature and a perfectionist character, both of which help me find the most accurate data and information available. Although I have my head stuck in studies and reports most of the time, I still have a bit of free time during which I enjoy knitting and watching classic 90’s Disney movies.