Periodic Table for Solar Panel Maintance

The beauty of solar is that it lasts a long time and doesn't require costly maintenance. However, if you want to make sure your array is working at its best, you may want to consider the elements in the glossary below. Panel maintenance can help your panels be the most efficient they can be.

The Periodic Table of Solar Panel Cleaning and Maintenance

Solar Panel Cleaning Supplies

Cleaning solar panels is easy — if you have the proper equipment. The elements of solar panel cleaning supplies are always good to have on hand.

Roof Rake (Rr):

A roof rake is a large pole with an attachment that allows individuals to pull snow off of solar panels. To avoid scratching the solar panels, attach a rag to the end of it. +0

Soap (S):

Special soaps aren't necessary to clean solar panels. In fact, dish soap works great to remove tough spots. However, it can leave a residue which may cause the solar panels to absorb less light. -1

Rags (R):

A household cleaning rag is a great, non-abrasive way to clean solar panels. If one is willing to go on the roof, they are good for cleaning tough spots. They are also perfect for cushioning roof rakes in the winter. +0

Squeegee (Sq):

A squeegee is great for removing excess water. However, if not careful, an old squeegee can scratch the glass or leave streaks. +0

Sponge (Sp):

Sponges are another non-abrasive option used to clean solar panels. However, unless attached to a pole, it will require getting on the roof. +0

Telescopic Pole (Tp):

Telescopic poles allow individuals to reach high spots from the ground. +1

Water Fed Brush (Wb):

Water fed brushes attach to either a garden hose or treated water. This brush allows the individual to clean the panel while rinsing it. +2

Solar Panel Cleaning Options

Different solar panel situations will require different forms of cleaning. The solar panel cleaning elements list the potential options so that you can make the correct choice for your installation.

Cleaning Robot (Cr):

Cleaning robots can be purchased for personal use, or individuals can hire a professional that uses one. They are great for hard to reach solar panels, but they don’t always clean everything. +1

Cleaning Professional (Cp):

If the solar panels are hard to reach, hiring a professional to do it can save the customer from having to get on the roof. +2

Reverse Osmosis Water (RO):

Reverse osmosis water is when all the minerals are removed from the water, allowing for a spot free wash. +2

Deionized Water (DI):

Deionized water has all the ions removed from it. When water doesn’t have a charge, it is attracted to things that have a charge — like dirt. +2

Self Cleaning (Sc):

Self cleaning is when a solar owner allows regular rainstorms to clean their solar panels. If solar panels are in an area that has regular rainstorms, it may not be necessary to wash solar panels. +2

Typical Causes of Solar Array Inefficiency

Solar panel inefficiency can come from a variety of causes. Identifying the cause of your loss in electricity generation is the first step to determining how you should clean it.

Accumulated Debris (Ad):

Debris such as dust, pollution and pollen collect on the surface of solar panels. If they are not cleaned every once in a while, this buildup can prevent the sun from reaching the components in the panel. -1

Hail (H):

Most solar panels have gone through rigorous testing. In fact, most can withstand hail the size of a ping bong ball at 70 mph. -1

Trees (T):

Trees are great for the environment, but they also block the sun from hitting solar panels. They also affect the need to clean panels. Trees that can't be trimmed or removed make solar on residential roofs less effective. -2

Fallen Components (Fc):

Just like any other piece of technology, dropping panels is never good. If a solar panel falls, it is likely that micro-cracks have formed. -2

Golf Balls (Gb):

Living next to a golf course may look appealing, but the flying golf balls aren't. If they hit the solar panels just right they could shader or at the least create micro-cracks in solar panels. -2

Pests (P):

Pests, such as birds, often form nests underneath solar panels. If this happens, it is possible that the animal will mess with the array, decreasing its efficiency. -1

Production Standards and Monitoring

Monitoring your solar panels is a key part of ensuring that you get the most value from them. The production standards and monitoring elements below are a good way to get acquainted with the basics.

Solar Panel Production Standards (Ps):

Most solar panels degrade no more than 3 percent each year. This is why they are able to last for 25-plus years. +2

Some inverters, such as the SMA, can monitor solar production and usage, and work more efficiently with clean panels. +2

Utility Solar Metering (Um):

Although solar allows individuals to no longer rely on fossil fuels, they are still tied to the grid. Through net metering, the utility company measures how much power is being put on and taken off the grid. +0

Solar Product Warranties

Warranties are one of the main ways that you can ensure that your panels last the longest. Know the warranties and insurance options available for solar by checking out the elements below.

Solar Panel Warranties (Sw):

Solar panel manufacture warranties are typically 25 years with an 80 percent efficiency. However, there are solar panels with higher warrantied efficiencies. +2

Homeowners Insurance (Hi):

Homeowners insurance covers the solar array if something goes wrong, either because of debris or other items that break the panels, rendering any cleaning ineffective. Oftentimes, adding solar to homeowners insurance doesn't cost extra, but it is best to check first. +2

Solar Panel Maintenance Costs (Mc):

The cost of maintenance is up to the customer. If they have a system that they can't reach, it will cost more to have someone come out once a year and clean the solar panels. Other than cleaning, however, solar doesn't typically need maintenance. +1

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