Here’s a myth: My solar panel system will require maintenance.
Most grid-tie solar panel systems require very little maintenance, if any. If you happen to live directly below a bird migration route, you may need to give the solar panels an occasional hosing to clean off their, shall we say, droppings, but generally, the rain takes care of keeping solar panels clean. Snow will eventually melt off the solar panels – depending on how steep you have them tilted, it should be in a day or two. So, unless you absolutely have to get every drop of power out of your solar panels, you can just let mother nature take care of it for you.
If you do have a battery-based solar system, either off-grid or hybrid grid-tie with battery backup, and you have flooded lead acid batteries, then you will have to do regular checks of your batteries. The water and specific gravity levels need to be recorded, and distilled water added, as needed. If you have sealed batteries, like AGM or saltwater batteries like those from Aquion Energy, there is very little you need to do, just give an occasional visual inspection to ensure all is well.
So if you have the most common type of solar system, grid-tie, there’s nothing you need to do but enjoy your reduced electric bill!
Thanks for sharing Amy! A lot of folks in our neck of the woods are afraid of installing solar panels because of the snow. In most cases, the snow is only a minor nuisance that is gone in a day or two.
Hello Amy, your observations on the cleaning / maintenance of solar panels/modules is only applicable to CLEAN – DUST- FREE environments /locations. I live in Nigeria, in IFO , some 30 kilometers south of Lagos , the commercial capital city of Nigeria.. I installed Off-Grid Solar PV electric system at my apartment/residence in Ifo. A dirt / earth road ( very common in most towns in Nigeria ) runs the whole length of the street / road (OKENLA ROAD ) on which my residence is located. The constant flow of traffic on this road results in daily generation of lots of dust /fine sand , which eventually settles on the surfaces of my solar modules . A (one ) week layer of dust cover , if left unwashed , is enough to reduce DRASTICALLY , the power output from the panels. During the rainy season, ( we have two distinct seasons here, rainy and dry seasons ) the rains help in washing the panels off accumulated dust. However , during the dry season , I have to wash/clean the solar modules every week. I need every Watt I can squeeze out of my system , as I am living “OFF-GRID “. It is quite some work , cleaning the panels . I plan to increase my installation to 1.8 kw from the present 540 Watts ( 3-nos 180 Watts modules ) in the near future. That means more labour/work washing the increased numbers (10 Nos . 180 Watts Modules ) . I have been thinking Amy, will it not be better if I can get an ” automated self -cleaning/washing system ” for my solar PV installation . Such a system will monitor dust/dirt build up on the surface of the solar modules and initiate a WASHING action (using high pressure jet of water sprayed on module surface ) , once power (voltage ) output from the “dirty ” modules has dropped below a “preset value /threshold “. Surely Amy, such a system is “DO-ABLE”. I will very much appreciate your feedback on this subject/proposal. (BABATUNDE OLUWATOYIN—- IFO , OGUN STATE , NIGERIA )
Thanks you, great point that if you are in a dry dusty area, more frequent washing may be needed. There are automatic cleaning systems available for large commercial solar systems. I don’t know of any cost effective small automatic cleaning systems.