Solar panels have no moving parts and are “maintenance free”. But, even solar panels get dirty and need periodic cleaning or they will lose efficiency to convert solar light into clean electrical energy for your home. Debris like dust, dirt, algae, mold, or leaves can all reduce the amount of sun your solar cells receive.
The key to peak performance of your solar panels is regular maintenance.
Here are 5 easy steps for solar panel maintenance:
- Clean Plexiglas surfaces
- Check/Reseal waterproof seals
- Check weep holes
- Check/tighten electrical connections
- Check/secure mounting hardware
Clean your Plexiglas (plexiglass, Lexan, Lucite or other acrylic sheet) with care. Plexiglas surfaces are easily scratched or damaged by dirt, hard brushes or harsh cleansers. Do not use scrubbing pads or gritty cleaners! These cause scratches in the Plexiglas surface which reduce its ability to pass the sun’s energy to the solar cells.
Cleaning Plexiglas should be done by first gently rinsing the surface with water to float the dirt off, then using a soft cloth with a mild dish detergent and warm water solution to remove the remaining dirt. Change the cloth’s cleaning area to prevent scratching from the dirt build up.
Things NOT to use: Common household cleaners with ammonia or alcohol, paper towels, solvents such as acetone, dry-cleaning fluid or thinners; or any gritty cleanser or polish. All of these can cause scratching or damage the Plexiglas surface.
Diluted bleach is ok, but it may discolor the aluminum frames.
Check the waterproof seams for signs of water leakage, mold or algae, or separation of the caulk from the surfaces. Remove any mold or algae then reapply silicon caulk to seal the surfaces.
Check weep holes on the bottom of the panels for blockage. Weep hole allow water from condensation on the inside of the panel to drain. If the weep hole is blocked, then water can back up in the panel and short out the electrical connections.
Check electrical connections. Tighten connector caps and wire screws. Look for oxidized wires, these increase resistance and lower the panel’s power output.
Lastly, inspect the panel mounting brackets and connections. Clear out any debris at the base of the brackets. Built up debris could deteriorate the roof surface causing leaks in your roof . Tighten all connecting hardware to insure your solar panels remain in place.
Regular maintenance of your solar panels will allow many years of trouble free power for your home.