The average homeowner’s electric bill comes to approximately $111.67 every month. That means you’re paying more than $1,300 per year just to power the appliances you use every day.
Installing solar panels can help you cut that bill if not eliminate it altogether, but making sure your panels produce the clean energy you need can seem like a mystery.
Luckily, solar panel maintenance is relatively simple as long as you keep up with it. Here are a few key tasks that will keep your panels in top shape year-round.
Keep Them Free of Debris
Solar panels work best when they’re in full sun. If anything is blocking the sun’s rays or obscuring them even slightly, you’ll see a change in the amount of energy they produce.
When this happens for extended periods of time, your home may need to use traditional on-grid electricity to power your appliances.
The best thing you can do for your panels and your energy bill is to keep them free of debris.
Walk around your home’s exterior and look at the panels from the ground. If you see any leaves or debris covering the panels, you’ll want to use a soft long-handled broom or leaf blower to remove the debris.
If they’re covered in snow or ice, don’t panic. Let the sun do its job and wait for the blockage to melt.
Watch for Low-Hanging Limbs
Solar panels are incredibly durable and scratch-resistant, but they’re not indestructible. They can get damaged and scratched over time.
The most common cause of those scratches is low-hanging limbs that rub against the surface of the panels in the wind. The longer this happens, the more likely your panels are to get scratched and scuffed.
Those scratches can make your panels less efficient and could impact the amount of clean energy the panels produce throughout the year.
If you notice low-hanging limbs over your panels, call a tree service and get them removed or trimmed back. As an added bonus, removing those limbs may end up getting rid of any shade that blocks the panels throughout the day.
You may even end up seeing an increase in energy production, further lowering your expenses each month.
Wash Your Panels
Leaves, debris, and shade aren’t the only things that can keep your panels from getting the sun they need to work properly. Dust can, too.
Worse, dust is hard to see from the ground, making it tough to monitor buildup throughout the year. That’s why it’s best to wash your panels at least four times each year.
This will help keep the buildup to a minimum and ensures that your panels can generate the most electricity throughout the day. Keep in mind that you may need to wash your panels more often depending on the season and where you live.
For example, if you live in an area with dust storms, you’ll want to clean them more often. During spring and summer, pollen from blooming plants may collect on the surface, meaning you’ll need to clean them more frequently during the warmer months.
Keep an eye on your panels when you’re outside and if they look like they’re not clean, wash them thoroughly.
Use the Right Cleaning Materials
Believe it or not, some cleaning materials can damage your solar panels and ruin the surface and the components inside the panels.
That’s why it’s always best to keep things simple. Use a garden hose with a spray nozzle to rinse away dirt and debris. Use a leaf blower to remove leaves and plant matter from the panels.
If you need to give the panels a good scrub, use a long-handled pole with a microfiber cloth on the end.
Whatever you do, never spray automotive cleaners, window cleaner, or other harsh cleaning agents on the panels. At best, they’ll create a film that keeps the panels from working well. At worst, they’ll scratch the surface and damage the interior components.
Get Your Roof Inspected
Roof-mounted solar panels are convenient and can even make your roof more resistant to hail and storm damage. This doesn’t mean they’re a substitute for standard roof maintenance.
In fact, they can hide the damage that you’d otherwise see if the panels weren’t in place.
The best way to stay on top of things is to get your roof inspected twice a year. This will allow your roofing contractor to check for leaks and damage beneath the panels.
If they notice anything wrong, they can make the necessary repairs to keep your roof and the support structure for your panels in good shape for the rest of the year.
Monitor Cable Housing for Damage
Almost all solar panels have cables leading to the inverter and battery storage system somewhere along the roof. This is normal, but those cables can get damaged by intense sun and unwanted pests.
While your roofing contractor inspects the roof, ask them to inspect the cable housing for signs of damage. Cracks in the housing, exposed wire, or discoloration are all signs that you need to have your solar professional make a few repairs.
Leaving the damage unrepaired means your system won’t work as efficiently. Over time, that damage could become so severe that your panels won’t communicate with the rest of the components at all.
Don’t Put Off Your Solar Panel Maintenance Tasks
Solar panels shouldn’t be tough to care for. Just make sure you follow these simple solar panel maintenance tips each year.
This way, you’ll know that your panels are in good shape and can produce environmentally friendly energy for your home for years to come.
Looking for more helpful tips on making your home green and eco-friendly? Check out our latest posts.