With no moving parts, what could go wrong with your home Solar PV system? Well quite a bit, if you don’t look after it!
I bet you paid a lot of money for your home system, so wouldn’t you want to get the greatest generating capacity out of it?
I know I do, so I am going to share four maintenance tips that we regularly perform to ensure it is working in tip-top condition, and generating all electricity that it can.
Tip #1 – Check for Shading
As time goes by, your panels may be subject to shading by trees. We have a neighbouring tree that grows quite rapidly over the back of our most southern row of panels. Every six months we trim any overhanging branches back to ensure maximum light hits each panel.
Tip #2 – Remove Dirt
Even with regular rainfall dirt can accumulate on the surface of the panels, sticking to it like glue. This grime can reduce your generation by 5-10%. The best way to clean your panels is with a squeegee on a long handle. That way you can reach from top to bottom without too much effort. Make sure that your squeegee has a sponge and brush on the reverse side for applying a cleaning solution. I use a solution of 2 cups of white vinegar, about 5 drops of dishwashing liquid to 5 litres of warm water. In this way, any runoff will not contaminate my harvested rainwater if it flows into the guttering.
Tip #3 – Inspect Cabling
You don’t have to be an electrician to visually inspect the cabling from your panels to the inverter. All you need is a good set of eyes to check if there is any deterioration or if something is rubbing against a cable that may cause a short. Just be careful if you have to get on your roof, and make sure you have a safety number watching you. If you find any cabling issues, call in the experts to replace the faulty lead.
Tip #4 – Inspect the Inverter
The inverter is the box on the wall that converts all those free electrons into mains voltage. Most have long warranties, however you should ensure that the outer cover is free from dirt, grime and any corrosion. Remove dirt with a small hand broom, make certain that you are gentle. You don’t want to knock any cables out. Keeping your inverter clean will ensure its longevity.
All these things can performed by you, the owner of the system. No qualifications are necessary for these simple checks, which if conducted regularly will provide you with maximum output all year round.
Does anyone else have other simple tips that solar PV systems owners can follow to ensure a fully functional array?
Standard advice is that if the panels are installed at greater than 10 degrees, rainfall should get them clean enough. Of course if it doesn’t rain, that doesn’t help! Also I would suggest cleaning panels early in the morning to reduce temperature differential between the water and the panel to reduce likelihood of glass cracking (not all that likely, but just in case).
Gavin Webber says
Great tips Rachel. I agree with cleaning the panels in the morning, or on a cloudy day as we did.
We had solar panels installed on Friday, I haven’t thought about cleaning them as yet but I will definitely be looking into it.
Gavin Webber says
Hi WL, well done on joining the other 1 million who have them installed. You will certainly notice the difference to you electricity bill.