Solar Maintenance: Care and feeding…

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Very little maintenance is required for solar, other than ensuring the panels remain clean, undamaged and unobstructed. A willing and able owner is certainly capable of performing regular inspections and maintenance on their solar system. A part-time, absent or less able owner can hire the services of the solar contractor or a solar maintenance company to perform regular inspections and maintenance.

Most importantly, the glass surface of the panels should be kept free of dust, dirt, sand, tree sap, leaves, pollens, ash, snow, ice and grime which may collect. If possible, clean the panels with straight water at low pressure. A garden hose will do just fine!

Only if the contaminants are difficult to remove should vinegar or a small amount of window cleaner be added to the water. A sponge, microfiber cloth or other non-abrasive cleaning assistance can help out. Always rinse with clean water afterward to ensure that the contaminant is not just replaced with soap scum or chemical buildup.

Inspect underneath the panels, specifically looking for nests, evidence of insects or rodents, leaves or other debris. Ensure that the panels are secure to the racking, racking secure to the roof, with conduit and wire in good condition.

Gently clean away anything which should not be there. Avoid the temptation to use a pressure washer, given the presence of power optimizers or microinverters and plentiful electrical connections.

Should birds, insects or rodents become particularly problematic, an option is to ask the original installer for a critter guard to be installed around the perimeter of each array. Unless the problem is known to exist, a guard is not recommended at the time of solar installation, as free airflow around the panels is preferred, if no problem exists.

The conduit running off the roof, inverter or combiner, disconnect, meter and electrical panel should also be checked regularly for problems. If any part of the installation is found to be loose or damaged, best to refer this back to the original contractor, as DIY work by the owner may void the system warranty.

Initially, after installation, it is recommended to inspect the system every two weeks for the first two months, as the owner familiarizes themselves with the new system. And in case the neighborhood birds or squirrels quickly decide they have found a new home. After that monthly is fine, or after a weather event – especially wind, hail or snow, and as the trees produce sap, pollen or lose their leaves.

All-in-all, with no moving parts and their ability to work harmoniously with nature, solar systems are very low maintenance. Much more so than other elements of a property!

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