Proper maintenance and regular cleaning are essential to keep the panels in good working condition for a long time. More so, cleaning the panels can boost their functionality. These tasks don’t necessarily require the services of a contractor or specialist. All you need is a holistic solar panel maintenance checklist.
This article shares maintenance tips and other useful information you may need to know to avoid wrong practices during such maintenance procedures.
Solar Panel Maintenance Checklists
This solar panel maintenance checklist will help you ensure that your PV system’s quality is not compromised. Also, earthing is important to your panels and is worth some attention.
Earthing transmits any instant electricity to the ground. This helps to protect your appliances from voltage surges. It also protects you, the user, from electrocution. An important checklist is as follows:
Solar panel quality check
- Check for cracks.
- Make sure the panels are not bent.
- There should be no bubbles or brown coloration behind the glass.
- Cracks on the back sheeting are bad signs.
- The junction boxes at the backside must be tight.
- Junction box covers must be intact.
- Damaged cables or exposed wires.
- Partial or full shading of the solar panel.
- There must be an earthing combiner box.
- There must be earthing at the battery charger, charge controller, and inverter.
- The battery protection box and the AC distribution box must be earthed.
- There must be a grounding cable at the ground pit.
- Look out for the wrong type or color of grounding cable.
- Ensure that the lightning mast is secure.
Battery rack and terminal connections check
- A loosely fitted battery rack is not proper.
- There should be an insulating material around battery-to-battery wires.
- Look out for signs of leaking battery.
- Battery terminals must not be exposed.
- Corrosion and rust are bad signs.
- The battery protection box must be appropriately fused and wired.
- There must be no sulfide flakes at the battery terminals.
Wiring and cables checklist
- Cable trenches must be used.
- The technician must use glands at entry points of any cables.
- There must be no loose connections.
- All copper wires must be coated with insulators.
- There must be no hanging cables.
- Replace burnt wires or connections.
- All cable entry points must be sealed.
Maintenance tips for solar panels
Pay close attention to the energy output
You can monitor the efficiency of your solar panels if you have a solar panel monitoring system. This will help you track the energy output of your solar panels. If the reading on the system is lower than usual, this can be a result of dirt.
After cleaning the panels, readings lower than average require immediate attention. Also, micro-cracks and scratches on solar panels may result in the low energy output of the solar power system. In such a situation, we advise that you call a technician or a contractor.
Clean your solar panels
Keeping your panels free of dirt and debris exposes the cells to sun rays, thereby boosting the amount of solar energy they can generate. However, your cleaning frequency depends on your area’s climate. Also, it depends on whether or not there are trees close to where you mounted the panels.
If you have frequent rainfall in your region, it can easily wash debris and bird droppings off the panels. Excessive dirt on your panel can reduce the overall power generated by the panels. So, once you notice a drop in the panels’ energy production, it’s time for a cleaning exercise.
A panel monitoring system can help you track this.
Check the panels for corrosion
It doesn’t matter that your panels are resistant to corrosion. Cracks on the back sheet make them prone to rust. So, checking your panels once or twice yearly for rust or weathering is ideal. Rusts and weathering damages reduce the efficiency of the panels.
Once you notice this, call your technician or installation company to check it out. Prolonging such issues may lead to worse results.
Ensure that there are no damages to the wiring
Poor wiring or damage to wiring is a major concern for your solar panel. This is more so if they are exposed to the elements such as rain. The wires may crack due to exposure to excessively high or low temperatures.
Also, rodent bites can cause damage to the wires. So, you must conduct regular checks for broken wires, as this can result in serious issues when they come in contact with water. Also, examine the connections for loose wiring.
Replace damaged or broken panels
Your solar panels may get damaged from severe weather elements such as thunderstorms, blizzards, hail storms, and tornadoes. Even if the damage may not appear significant, minor cracks and scratches can cause negative interference.
If you notice any cracks, draw the attention of your technician or an expert. They need to assess the extent to which the panels have suffered the damage and make necessary fixes. Most times, the only way out is a replacement. So, handle your panels carefully and avoid exposing them to extreme temperatures.
Additional tips for solar panel maintenance
- Make sure that there’s no obstruction in the way to the isolation switch. This is important in an emergency that requires immediate disconnection from power.
- Regular system fault and electrical checks are a must. This can be done twice a year, depending on the weather condition of your region.
- Replace inverters that have stayed for too long (about 10 years).
- Make sure there are no ground faults to prevent electric shocks.
To make your investment in the solar home system worthwhile, you must take good care of the panels. If the exposure to the sun is limited, the panels won’t generate the right amount of energy. Achieving this will require that you take your maintenance and cleaning routines seriously.
Also, you should ensure that there are no loose fittings and connections. Proper earthing is also necessary to protect your appliances from voltage surges and yourself from accidental electrocution.