Investing in solar power is a smart choice for businesses and facilities. It reduces your dependence on local electric utilities and helps you save on electrical bills. Plus, it showcases your commitment to renewable energy.
However, solar power systems require some maintenance like any other complex system. As a rule, a simple site inspection and walk-through twice a year can identify problems before they get out of hand. Identifying problems earlier will prevent many major issues and save you substantial repair costs.
Even with proper solar panel maintenance, roof replacements occur from age and generally require partial removal and re-installation of the solar arrays. Whether it’s a large commercial building or a residence, we offer this service on a case-by-case basis.
At Sun-Wind Solutions, we don’t just disappear after your project is complete. We offer service and maintenance for existing systems. With over a decade of experience installing and maintaining commercial solar power systems, we provide cost-effective support and ensure customer satisfaction.
Here we offer some insight into the maintenance and operation of your solar panels, but don’t hesitate to contact us for any additional questions you have:
Reactive vs. Preventative Solar Panel Maintenance
Like your body’s health, the health of your solar panels is better with preventative measures than reactive repairs. While emergency system maintenance, albeit rare, is sometimes necessary, the best plan is to inspect your system to catch problems before they grow. The best way to identify a solar power system problem is not to react to sudden drops in solar output and a large power bill! This reactive approach typically means that you have already lost valuable power output and may face a costly repair. You may also want to look into monitoring systems (if you don’t already have one) that alert you to changes in energy production.
On the other hand, ongoing solar panel maintenance servicing by professionals at Sun-Wind Solutions should be a part of all solar energy systems. During these maintenance visits, our solar panel technicians inspect the systems, fix any loose wires or panels, and optimize them for maximum solar output. They can also address more serious issues like cracked panels or faulty inverters. As a rule commercial inverter manufacturers give a 10-year warranty out of the box.
Many solar customers take a reactive approach, treating their solar power system as “set-it-and-forget-it” technology. They only take action when there are significant drops in solar production. Similarly, many smaller businesses choose this approach because it’s cheaper and easier than scheduled maintenance.
However, investing in ongoing preventive maintenance becomes justifiable, especially with larger PV systems. For example, dust on 20 panels may result in a loss of $30 in savings, but across an entire PV farm, that same dust could lead to tens of thousands of dollars in greater lost savings.
And this is just considering dust. When you take into account other potential failure points, such as components, wires, mounts, etc, it’s clear that investing in solar operations and maintenance can significantly improve your ROI.
Solar Panel Maintenance Cost
The cost of cleaning and maintaining a typical solar panel array is estimated on a case-by-case basis as there are a variety of factors that can influence the cost.
If repairs are necessary, different models may require special tools for cleaning and servicing. The type of inverter also affects cost, with microinverters being more expensive to replace than string inverters. Lastly, the surrounding environment plays a role, as tree growth may shade the system and necessitate tree trimming.
Part of delivering exceptional customer service at Sun-Wind Solutions includes our scheduled general maintenance checks for your solar panels. This planned service covers all necessary tasks to ensure your equipment’s optimal function and longevity. From adjustments to cleaning, as well as identifying needed repairs, replacements, and equipment life extension.
We recommend thorough O&M inspections twice a year. During these inspections, our technicians go above and beyond to ensure your solar installation is in top shape.
They check and confirm that the roof drainage is adequate and that there are no clogs or water pooling near the array. We also make sure that any roof penetrations are completely watertight.
For ground mount systems, we pay close attention to ground erosion near the footings, ensuring the stability and integrity of your system.
We conduct checks for corrosion outside enclosures and the racking system. This helps us identify any potential issues and address them promptly.
Cleaning Solar Panels
An important part of solar panel maintenance is routine cleaning. Cleanliness is key to optimal performance, so we meticulously check the entire site for debris. Whether it’s the inverter pad area or any other part of the installation, we ensure cleanliness is maintained.
To ensure safety and efficiency, we inspect for any loose hanging wires in the array. Lastly, we actively look for signs of animal infestation or damage under the array. By addressing this issue, we help prevent any damage or disruptions in the system’s functioning.
Monitoring PV Modules
Each PV module is a crucial component of your solar panel systems and requires preventive maintenance, with a focus on cleaning and damage detection.
To ensure optimal performance, it’s vital to inspect PV modules regularly. When inspecting your system, our Sun-Wind Solutions technicians look for the following signs:
- Physical damage to the frame and glass
- Delamination or discoloration of the outer layer, indicating moisture or corrosion
- Burned connections within the module
- Corrosion of wires or frame grounding
- Weakness or corrosion in the array mount
If we notice any of these problems, we will notify you and determine the cost to ensure the proper operation of your solar system.
When using lead-acid batteries, following the manufacturer’s maintenance recommendations for safety is important.
Other Solar Panel Maintenance Considerations
To ensure optimal performance and longevity of larger solar power systems, specific checks and maintenance activities are conducted in addition to the basic inspections.
Once properly installed, all you need to do is keep inverters clean. Regularly wipe away dust, debris, and cobwebs. Ensure your inverter stays cool by keeping it away from heat-sensitive or flammable materials. If your inverter has a cooling fans, make sure it is not blocked and there is enough airflow around it. Leave at least 18 inches of clearance. Check your inverter periodically for error codes or unusual lights. If you notice anything out of the ordinary, call Sun-Wind Solutions for assistance.
Transformers play a crucial role in delivering renewable energy from solar power facilities to the utility grid. However, they are often exposed to harsh weather conditions that can impact their performance. That’s why regular transformer maintenance is essential to keep your solar power plant operating at its best.
Maintaining the dielectric strength of transformer oil is key to ensuring reliable operation. To prevent issues, it’s important to minimize contaminants in the oil. Over time, the dielectric strength of the oil will naturally decrease due to service conditions. That’s why monitoring and maintaining oil quality is crucial for the longevity and effectiveness of oil-filled electrical equipment.
Even in ideal conditions, oil ages and degrades over time. To stay ahead of any potential problems, it is recommended to annually test the oil’s breakdown voltage (BDV) value and take corrective measures as necessary.
Maintenance of Ground-mounted Solar Panels vs. Rooftop Panels
While ground-mount PV systems require more real estate, they are less expensive to maintain. One of the major advantages of ground-mounted solar systems is their accessibility for maintenance and repair. If an inverter in the middle of the roof array malfunctions, it becomes necessary to remove multiple panels in order to access the problem. However, when your solar system is mounted at ground level, it becomes much easier to troubleshoot and repair panels and other components.
Another benefit of ground-mounted systems is their convenience for cleaning and routine maintenance. You can have peace of mind knowing that you won’t have to risk your safety whenever you need to remove snow, dust, or debris from your panels. Additionally, pole mount trackers are available for areas with heavy snowfall. These mounts can be adjusted to optimize energy production and easily shed snow during the winter months.
Tips for Maintaining Solar Panels
Here are a few extra tips from Sun-Wind to maintain solar panels:
Keep Your Solar Panels Clean for Maximum Efficiency
While rain can help wash away dirt and bird droppings, it’s still important to visually inspect your panels after extreme weather to make sure they are still in good working condition.
Avoid using abrasive tools or harsh chemicals that can damage your panels when cleaning. Soft brushes, squeegees, leaf blowers, or garden hoses are suitable options. Remember, never clean your solar panels on a hot day. The sudden cooling effect can cause cracks. Also, be aware that panels can still be warm after sunset if it is hot. Always be vigilant about dirt build-up on your panels. They can absorb sunlight better when they are clean.
These are general guidelines. We will give you recommendations on how often you should clean your specific panels to keep them in top shape for optimal energy generation.
Keep an Eye on Efficiency
Be vigilant for drops in efficiency. Many solar inverters have mobile apps that allow you to monitor productivity. If you notice low output in sunny conditions, there may be something blocking your panels.
If your inverter doesn’t have built-in energy monitoring, you might overlook performance issues until your electricity bill arrives. Consider getting a power monitoring system for better visibility.
A malfunction in your system components can also reduce electricity output. However, reputable equipment manufacturers provide warranties to cover such issues at no cost. Long-term warranties are available at an additional cost.
Although solar panels naturally derate over time, high-quality panels experience a very low industry-standard efficiency loss of just 0.5% per year. Even after 20 years, you can still expect over 90% of their initial energy output.
Hire a Professional
While you can attempt to clean and maintain solar panels yourself, why take the chance when professionals can ensure the highest standards?
Keep your valuable solar panels safe by entrusting their cleaning to professionals. Ordinary cleaning supplies can scratch and harm the panels, but professional cleaning companies use specially designed equipment and soft-bristle brushes to prevent any damage. Considering the cost of your panels, it’s worth investing in a professional cleaner to minimize the risks.
Additionally, we use industry-standard cleaning solutions specifically formulated for solar panels, so you can have peace of mind knowing the right techniques and products are being used.
Cleaning solar panels isn’t just about efficiency and performance—it’s also about safety. High roofs and awkward positions can present significant risks, including uneven surfaces and high winds. Why put yourself or employees in harm’s way when professionals have the proper equipment to reach and clean your panels safely? Let us handle the job without any worries.
Get the Best Service and ROI: Choose Sun-Wind Solutions for Solar Panel Installation and Maintenance
We are committed to our clients and the communities we serve. If you encounter system communication issues, rapid shutdown device anomalies, inverter error codes or failures, panel faults, or monitoring problems, call Sun Wind Solutions at 203-255-3714. We will walk you through the problem to identify what the root cause may be to get your solar panel array up and running ASAP.
When you choose Sun-Wind Solutions as your solar company, you choose a reliable partner. We have extensive experience operating and maintaining large-scale solar projects. You can trust us to install your projects to the highest standards at a fair and economical cost.
From project inception to ongoing operation, we are dedicated to serving you. Choose Sun-Wind Solutions for your solar panel maintenance needs and get the most from your solar investment.