Although solar energy is a sustainable power source, it doesn't mean your equipment will last forever. Once installed, there are many things that can go wrong. This makes it necessary to perform some maintenance routines to make sure it is working optimally for a long time to come. Here is a look at some common issues with solar panels and what you can do in order to prolong the life of your valuable investment.
How to Maintain your Solar Panels Properly to Avoid Some Hidden Issues
Once you have bought and finally installed your solar panel, your first concern is probably the kind of issues your system could face. This is natural since you want your investment to serve you properly for as long as possible. What are the most common issues? What parts usually break first? How do I make sure they don't break? Such could be the questions running through your mind.
Fortunately, photovoltaic modules can last a very long time. According to an analysis done in 2014 by National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL), photovoltaic panels made after 2000, which use monocrystalline silicon, have a yearly degradation rate of less than 0.4%. This means, your panel should have an efficiency of 92 percent after 20 years of service. Indeed, solar panels installed today are expected to last well beyond that at 80% efficiency.
Additionally, solar panels do not require costly maintenance. Since they are designed to work outdoors, their structure can withstand harsh weather and punishing sunlight and heat. Nevertheless, there are still some precautions to take and maintenance routines that will ensure your system works as desired during its long lifetime.
Avoid choosing an inappropriate location before your panels are installed
For the solar panels to produce enough power, they require full, bright sunlight. Shadow and prolonged cloudy weather are among the issues that will affect their performance. Lack of bright sunlight reduces the rate of voltage output. To ensure maximum production from the modules, install the panels on mounts angled towards the sun.
It will also be necessary to do some adjustment on a seasonal basis. This is because the sun’s inclination can change throughout the year. Besides, trees grow or people erect tall buildings that could block the sun’s rays. Always monitor these changes and make necessary adjustments to ensure your installation receives enough exposure to the sun.
Inspect regularly to unearth any wiring problems
Wiring problems are the most common with solar panels. It is always a good practice to examine the connections in your system on a regular basis. Check loose connections, corrosion, and oxidation of the wires as these issues could affect the performance of your renewable energy source.
For instance, loose wires become worse during very hot days and they can fail to transmit energy completely. On the other hand, corrosion increases the resistance of wires making them poor conductors of electricity. Tighten any loose connections and replace those which are already oxidized so that your installation can produce the optimum amount of energy.
Make sure the panels are clean
Fortunately, rainfall does help in getting your solar panels clean. A lot of pollen, leaves, dust and any other loose debris are washed off during rains. However, when dirt accumulates during dry seasons, you may have to clean it. Such dirt can prevent enough sunlight from hitting the surface of the panels. This causes the power produced by your installation to reduce.
In this case, a simple act such as directing a hose pipe to the plate will clear of such dirt just like rainwater. However, some dirt and grime stick hard calling for some wiping. Solar panels are made of glass, and it is possible to clean them with water and soap. However, you cannot use an abrasive material or allow any soap residue to remain on the surface.
The residue coats the panel hindering sun rays from reaching it. On the other hand, abrasion can cause scratches that will reflect sun rays. All these reduce the efficiency of your solar system. Make sure you do not wash the panels during extremely hot days as the glass can shatter. Cracks on the plate’s surface lower its efficiency.
What parts will break first?
Inverters are among the balance of system components that will fall first. Most inverters in the market today have a useful life of fifteen to twenty years. You should keep proper installation records that can show the expected replacement time. You can hardly control their malfunction after the lapse of their useful life. Proper maintenance, though, will ensure that they serve as per the expectations.
Proper handling can lengthen the life expectancy of your photovoltaic module. Ensure it has a good frame that will protect it from breaking in case of accidental falling during installation. It should also be installed in a place free from falling objects.
About the Author: Adam Hammill - President/CEO of ALIVE SOLAR After 11 years researching alternative energy, he discovered a way of combining existing technologies to create a clean, chemical energy storage system at least twice as efficient as systems currently available. Adam's ideas, experience, and relationships have quickly caused Alive Solar to thrive in the alternative energy arena in Southern California. He earned a Bachelor of Science degree at the University of Southern California and a Master of Theology degree from the University of Aberdeen in Scotland.