Solar Panel Maintenance | Tips For Your Solar System to Live its Best Life

 

You’ve researched solar panels and inverters, sorted out different quotes (hopefully from Solar Market 😉) and finally, your journey searching for solar comes to an end. All the hard work is now done. You made that big decision to invest in solar and now you can enjoy your solar energy and save thousands of dollars!

But wait, do you know that keeping your panels properly maintained is the best way to preserve your energy efficient solar panel system? Yes, there is a small amount of effort involved to make sure your solar panels live their best life.

Luckily most solar panel systems only need minimal maintenance. Hopefully they don’t have any moving parts that can break, and depending on the tilt of your roof they can actually clean themselves with the rain (if they’re on a roof that’s tilted more than 10 degrees).

Who Can Run the Maintenance on my Solar Panel System?
You can do the easy, basic maintenance like cleaning your panels and keeping an eye on your inverter (make sure it has a green light on & no error message) yourself. However, we recommend a Clean Energy Council Accredited solar installer run the maintenance on your system every 5 years.

Cleaning
Even though solar panels are generally self-cleaning, they still have to be cleaned occasionally. Dust, dirt, and other matters like pollen, bird droppings, and debris can develop over time and can have a negative impact on their efficiency. Here are some helpful cleaning tips for your solar panels:

  • Check with your solar panel manufacturer to see if they recommend specific cleaning for your panels.
  • It’s preferable to clean your solar panels during cold days, ideally in the early morning or late afternoon.
  • Try to use a garden hose to wash away any dust and dirt first (don’t have it on crazy high-pressure mode). If that doesn’t remove the grime then it’s time for you to get up there and scrub ‘em.
  • Strictly do not step on the panels.
  • Use a soft cloth or a sponge. Do not use harsh cleaning materials, they may cause damage to your panels.
  • If possible, clean your panels from the ground. If not, take caution and ensure you use the appropriate safety equipment (steel cap thongs don’t count).
What is Involved in Solar Panel System Maintenance?

Regular maintenance should include:

  • Cleaning your solar panels and making sure they are secure and free of any defects.
  • Ensuring no parts have deteriorated.
  • Checking that the wiring has not been damaged or deteriorated.
  • All components are operating as intended, this is done with an electrical check.
  • Ensuring all fitting and cables are securely attached.
  • Reviewing the inverter display panel for any recorded faults.
  • Checking the isolator switch and/or ensuring the emergency procedures for shutdown are clearly displayed
Some Things to Consider:

When you get your solar panel system installed, keep all the paperwork. If you have any defects over time, it may be covered under your warranty.

The Clean Energy Council (CEC) provides accreditations to solar installers who demonstrate competence in the design and installation of stand-alone and grid-connected solar PV systems.

This accreditation covers the installation of solar PV systems and not maintenance. Technically you could have any solar installer maintain your panels. However, by going to an installer who is CEC approved, you know they are committed to solar industry best practice.

Are you thinking about going solar? We can help you get connected with 3 experienced CEC accredited installers in your area. If you need more help and are still trying to decide, take our 2 min quiz to find out what kW solar panel system you need and the costs involved.

 

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Understanding Batteries

Off-Grid Systems

For some households a battery system can be of great benefit and minimise a home’s reliance on the grid. However, it’s important to understand for a battery to be useful your solar system needs to be generating excess energy for the battery to store, which you can then use at night or when the sun is not out.

When selecting a battery, you’ll want to invest in a system that is most suited to your home and can drive the best return on investment (ROI). Despite a larger upfront cost, a higher quality battery may significantly increase your ROI.

    Battery systems start from $6,000 and costs can vary greatly based on the following factors:

  1. Cycle Life-Time

    The number of times a battery can fully charge and discharge.

  2. Battery Power (kW)

    How fast it can be charged or discharged.

  3. Storage Capacity (kWh)

    The maximum amount of energy a battery system can store.

  4. Battery Management System (BMS)

    An electronic ‘smart’ system that gathers data and manages the battery ensuring it does not overload or operate outside of its safe functioning zone..

  5. Inverter

    Battery systems require their own inverter if your solar system does not have a hybrid inverter.

  6. 'All-In-One Unit’

    A system which includes the battery, BMS and an inverter all in one unit.

  7. Warranty

    Length of time or cycles the battery system is under guarantee.

  8. Blackout Protection/Backup

    It’s important to note this is not a common feature of a battery system and could cost thousands of dollars to include. Blackout protection not only requires additional components but also a specialised installation and rewiring. For grid-connected homes, the cost for blackout protection can outweigh the benefit.

Additionally, if your purpose for adding battery is to go Off-Grid and become completely independent from the grid you will need to ensure your solar system can generate enough energy to power your home and your battery system is large enough to store this energy. For homes in metro areas going Off-grid is not cost effective and is only recommended for those in remote areas with limited access to the grid. Off-grid solar systems with battery start at approximately $30,000.
 

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