Solar - Maintenance

solar - done reading - done reading

What are the things that we have to do keep our solar panels well operating?

  • Cleaning: Powering your home using solar energy does require more maintenance than using the regular old grid power. But not much. Solar panels have no moving parts. They are part of a completely stationary system. So once they're installed, there's not a whole lot that can go wrong. Pretty much the only thing a homeowner needs to do is keep the panels clean. It's an important task, though — too much dust and bird droppings on the panels can reduce the amount of sunlight striking them. Dust buildup can reduce the amount of electricity produced by the system by as much as 7 percent. See This type of maintenance is not something that needs to be done once a week, though. You'd probably only have to hose the panels down anywhere from one to four times a year. See You don't need to get on the roof. A hose and nozzle from ground level works fine. If there's construction in your area, you may have to clean the panels more often to avoid the extra buildup of construction-dust residue.
  • Occasional check-ups: to make sure all parts are in working order. You may eventually have to have the inverter replaced (and the batteries if you have a battery-storage system), but that's a once-a-decade type of maintenance event. Check with your installer on this, or read the manuals. See
  • Tree trimming: If your electrical-power generation depends on sunlight, things like towering shade trees and tall, shadow-casting buildings are going to be a problem. It's an even bigger problem than some people realize, though. Different types of panels react differently to shade. While a poly-crystalline panel will substantially reduce its output if any part of the panel is shaded, a mono-crystalline panel will stop producing electricity entirely. So to build a solar-powered home, it's necessary to make sure there are no shadows on the roof's panel area during the sunniest hours of the day (typically from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.), and preferably during all sunny hours [source: AEG]. The more hours the panels spend exposed to full sun, the more efficient the power generation will be. Achieving the greatest efficiency level might mean cutting back trees on your property (and keeping them cut back). If your home is surrounded by tall buildings that block the sun from your roof, this is a much bigger problem.

How frequent will I need to replace parts?

There are a few components in a solar system that could need replacement. If a panel fails outside of the manufacturer’s warranty, it costs between $150 and $200 to replace. If your system uses a centrally-located inverter to change the DC power produced by the panels into AC power that can be used by the electric grid, it might need to be replaced in 10 or 15 years at a cost of about $2,000, but many inverter manufacturers offer 10- to 12-year warranties; some even extend those warranties to 25 years. Micro-inverters, the kind that attach to each individual solar panel, cost much less (in term of the cost for each micro-inverter) to replace and are usually warranted for 25 years.

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