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Solar Panel Maintenance

There is a tendency to hear a lot about the installation of solar panels, but not so much about the required maintenance.

Any type of system placed in the home will likely involve some sort of upkeep. Solar energy systems are efficient choices and do not have to be constantly watched over, however general cleaning is a necessity.

Making sure the panels are free of dust and debris as needed is important for the best sunlight reception and energy yield, but also to make them last longer and help keep them scratch free.

Periodically hosing them off with water and cleaning when needed with a non-abrasive cloth and mild soap that is safe to use on panel surfaces will be an essential routine. Biodegradable soaps are the best choice, since the runoff will go into nearby groundwater.

Some suggest using a tool, such as a long-handled duster, mop, pool skimmer or window cleaner to reach high spots, since climbing on a sudsy, slippery surface to get to panels can be dangerous.

Contractors or solar care providers may also have recommendations for proper cleaning equipment and usually will offer cleaning services. Manufacturers or other local companies also perform inspections to make sure the panels, frames, batteries and inverter are still in good condition.

There are some solar systems on the market that have automated cleaning dispensers built onto the casings of the panels. These distribute a cleaning solution and a film free rinse whenever needed. Also, programmable monitoring systems can be purchased which allow tracking the panels output to ensure they are working properly.

Outside of the actual panels, other upkeep like landscaping may be periodically necessary in order to remove surroundings that block light, like tree branches. The panels will not function at capacity if they are obstructed or constantly shaded, thus reducing their electrical production.

Solar energy systems are sensible, environmentally responsible choices that do not take tremendous effort to keep running.

With just a little bit of basic cleaning added to the household chore chart, the sunshine does the majority of the work.

Sources:
5 Tips to Make Your Solar Panels Last. Retrieved on March 20, 2013 from: TLC – HowStuffWorks
How Can I Clean My Home’s Solar Panels? Answered by Planet Green. Retrieved on March 21, 2013 from: curiosity.com/Discovery
Image: Kusler, B. on flickr

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