One of the wonderful things about solar panels (apart from supplying your home with free energy!), is that they are incredibly low maintenance.
Guarantees on home solar systems are usually at least 10 years, with Q-Cells recently announcing a massive 25 year warranty with their panels.
With no moving parts, solar panels are less likely to break down, but they are machines, and like all machines, they need to be checked regularly.
The following guide is for accredited installers, it is not recommended for homeowners to carry out repair work on their photovoltaic system.
How solar panels work
Solar panels take the radiation from the sun (in the form of sunlight) and transform it into electricity, but the real beauty of solar panels is in their simplicity.
They are made up of two silicon plates, and that’s it.
One plate of silicon is positively charged, while the other is negatively charged.
When the sunlight hits the negatively charged plate, the energy excites the electrons, making them jump across to the positively charged side.
This flow of electrons goes by another name; electricity.
Electrons are the only moving part in a solar panel, and they all go back to where they came from once the circuit is complete.
There is nothing to get used up or worn out, meaning solar panels can last for years, but it always pays to check every once in a while if everything’s ok.
Let the professionals do their jobs
The following is a guide to the maintenance and associated hazards for your solar panels and inverters.
This information is provided only as a guide to visual inspections. This may allow you to identify issues before they become a safety concern.
If you do find something you’re unsure or worried about, then call us, the original installer, or any accredited professional.
Solar panel maintenance
Before we start, please note that even when the system has been shut down, solar PV arrays can continue to produce potentially deadly voltages.
If any electrical maintenance is required, it is recommended to cover PV modules with an opaque material and test with a meter for any remaining voltage before conducting such maintenance.
As we said above, solar panels require very little, if any, maintenance, but because they are usually mounted on rooftops, severe weather can have harmful effects on the mounting or electrical cabling.
A visual inspection can be conducted periodically to check for any environmental impacts, as well as routine cleaning of the modules, particularly in long periods of dry weather. This is usually when the build-up of dirt and dust may reduce the output of the system.
What to look for during visual inspections of solar panels:
- shading, dirt and dust
- obstructions, such as leaf litter preventing airflow beneath the modules
- modules are securely fastened to mounting rails
- cabling is not exposed to direct sunlight, secured in place and not dangling loosely
- fauna or high winds can cause damage when cables are left with long loops
- check that mounting systems and cable entries are not causing any leaks, for example, into roof cavities.
Contact us, your original installer, or another CEC accredited installer if you notice any potential problems. Additional checks by an accredited installer will include:
- checking that connections between modules and isolators are tight, sealed, secure and not suffering damage
- tests including string, open circuit voltage and current, output voltage and current, and earth resistance
When a solar panel converts sunlight into electricity, it’s still in its “raw” DC form. An inverter changes it to AC current, allowing it to be used in your home.
When visually inspecting your inverter, ensure that no objects are located around the inverter that may impede the flow of air for cooling, and check that indicator lights are operating as expected.
Only trained personnel may inspect and service inverters and regulators in accordance with the manufacturer’s specifications. This includes cleaning behind the inverter, checking the mounting, and opening the inverter to carry out routine or required maintenance as specified in the inverter operating manuals.
Our solar panel maintenance schedules
When we install a brand-new PV system in a home, we organise a maintenance schedule with our client, so they can rest assured with their new solar panels.
Different systems have different suggested maintenance schedules, but we think an inspection every 12 months is a good time to keep things in check.
During a yearly inspection, our professional engineers will check the voltage and current on both the DC and AC sides of the inverter, as well as a visual inspection of the solar panel array.
This includes a close look at the panel mounting and degradation, mechanical and UV protection of cables, connectors and conduit secure, frame earth connections, roofing sealants and penetrations, dirt and dust, and shading changes.
If any modules are found to be sub-standard, we shall replace where necessary.
When it comes to solar panel maintenance, we take our job and our commitment to our customers very seriously.
This is why you can always rely on us for all your solar power needs.
If you have any questions about solar panel maintenance, or you are interested in installing a PV system in your home or business, please don’t hesitate to contact us today.
Our friendly and expert staff will be happy to help in any way they can.
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