Solar panel maintenance is key to a high-efficiency residential solar panel system. Before installing residential solar panels, homeowners should know the upkeep responsibilities necessary to maximize the electricity output of the system.
Region-Specific Air Quality
The air quality in the region will determine how often your solar panels must be washed. Windy areas with high levels of dust, such as in desert regions, will have residue collecting regularly on residential solar panels. Also, living near a busy street with a lot of traffic can result in a polluted coating on the panels. According to a study published by the National Renewable Energy Laboratory, solar panels can lose up to 25 percent efficiency when clouded with dirt.
Not only must homeowners pay close attention to the grime on the solar panels, but also to the trees located nearby. If solar panels are installed too close to leafy trees, more frequent maintenance is required to remove falling sticks and leaves so no solar cells are blocked. Regular tree trimming is recommended to reduce tree shedding on the rooftop, and to lower the risk of falling branches, which could damage the system.
Track Solar Panel Efficiency
While homeowners can normally conduct a visual examination of their solar panels to determine if a cleaning is necessary, tracking the system’s efficiency through a monitoring system can be a more precise diagnostic measure. Wireless solar panel monitoring gives the homeowner real time statistics on cost per kilowatt and electricity usage. The system will diagnose any problem when a dip in efficiency occurs. The data is usually accessed through a tablet, computer or smartphone. Homeowners can choose from a wide variety of monitoring systems, with different billing cycles such as a one-time fee or monthly charge options.
Once the homeowner notices a buildup of debris on the panels or sees a decrease in the electricity generation, a cleaning is in order. If the panels are located on a two-story house, schedule a maintenance appointment with a nearby solar panel roofing contractor. Do not take the risk of mounting the roof without training, especially since washing the panels with water will make the roof slick and even more unsafe.
If you are able to reach the panels by mounting a secure stepladder and not climbing onto the roof itself, you may be able to conduct a cleaning on your own. If the panels only have a light coating of dirt, use a garden hose with an extension and high-powered sprayer to clear away grime. For caked-on substances, use a long-handled soft mop dipped in water and solar panel cleaner or a mild, biodegradable soap to rub at the tough spots. Follow through with a rinse until they regain their shine. Avoid heavy chemicals and rough brushes to prevent scratching.
Because solar panels do not have any mechanical moving parts, the maintenance required is normally minimal, especially since most systems come with an extended warranty. To find out more about residential rooftop energy efficiency and solar panel maintenance, contact Knockout Roofing.