A photovoltaic system is one of the most economical and environmentally friendly options for obtaining electricity and this is the reason why more and more homes and businesses are choosing it.
The installation of photovoltaic panels is quick, and the benefits are immediate. However, their efficiency depends on correct maintenance and cleaning.
Cleaning solar panels is a simple task, and you can do it yourself if the panels are installed on an easily accessible roof. One thing that you have to bear in mind is that they can get dirty very easily, as they’re exposed to the elements. And if you don’t carry out a correct cleaning of your photovoltaic panels, then it can impact their performance, resulting in lower energy production.
The correct maintenance of your photovoltaic system should include a periodic review to check how the equipment is functioning and to monitor its energy production.
Some of these tasks are part of the preventive maintenance programme, but it’s also advisable to contract a corrective maintenance service to cover any possible malfunctions. We strongly recommend that these maintenance tasks are always carried out by professionals.
Preventive maintenance tasks and how to keep your photovoltaic system in optimal condition
- Maintenance of the energy generation system. This consists of removing, once a month, any objects or dirt that could affect the correct functioning of the solar panels. The maintenance of the generation system includes removing both dust and pollution debris which can cause a reduction in the electric current and generate hot spots.
- Visual inspection to detect degradation in the photovoltaic system. You will need to check that the cells on the photovoltaic panels are not broken or deformed in any way. Ideally, this inspection should be carried out every two months.
- Checking the supports. Photovoltaic panels are usually mounted on structures made of aluminium profiles and stainless steel screws that don’t require any anti-corrosion maintenance. Even so, at least once a year, it is advisable to check the area where the solar panel structure is fixed to the roof and its watertightness.
- Revision of the inverters. The solar inverters are the most delicate part of the photovoltaic system, and require more comprehensive maintenance consisting of:
– Reading the archived data and the fault memory once a month.
– Replacing the filter pads and protective air inlet and outlet grilles twice a year.
– Cleaning the inverter, checking the wiring and switches, checking the temperature of the connections and checking for damaged/corroded parts at least once a year.
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Non-preventive or professional maintenance tasks
- Checking the condition and watertightness of the panels’ connection boxes.
- Checking the system performance at times of maximum exposure to solar radiation (measurement of open-circuit voltage and measurement of short-circuit current).
- Checking the system’s response to voltage drops in the different circuits (panels-charge controller, panels-inverter, controller-battery, and battery-inverter).
- Maintaining the general distribution board and checking the short-circuit protection devices.
- Maintenance of the insulation of the indoor installation.
- Maintenance of the earthing system to check that it doesn’t exceed the pre-set value.
Basic tips for proper cleaning and maintenance of your solar panels
- In order for the solar panels to absorb the maximum amount of solar energy, they must be completely clean. You don’t need to use specific or corrosive products. All you need is a soft sponge or chamois, a bucket of water and a small amount of washing-up liquid. If you prefer, you can use a car cleaning kit.
- Rub the panels gently. In fact, even though photovoltaic panels are resistant to different weather phenomena, such as rain, wind, and cold, it’s advisable to take the utmost care when cleaning them.
- Don’t clean the panels without water, as they may get scratched or damaged. If your home is near a main road or an area where many lorries pass through, the panels may get stained with oil. In this case, we advise you to remove the oil with isopropyl alcohol before its regular cleaning.
- When cleaning your solar panels, take extreme care to reduce the risk of electrocution. One tip is to use insulating materials (gloves, safety boots, overalls, etc.); another is to avoid cleaning your solar panels on rainy or windy days.
- Finally, if your photovoltaic panels are very high up or fixed onto inaccessible parts of your roof, we recommend that you contact a specialised company or your installation company for advice on cleaning and maintenance.