images that illustrate the working process of maintaining solar panels

Solar Panel Maintenance: A Master Guide

Maximize the lifespan of your solar panels. Explore our comprehensive guide for optimal solar panel care and longevity tips.

As solar energy becomes increasingly popular and affordable, many people are switching to solar panels for their properties. What many don’t consider, though, is what goes into having a personal solar system, including how to maintain solar panels.

In this guide, we’ll cover everything that goes into solar maintenance to ensure solar panels have optimal performance and longevity.

Do Solar Panels Need to be Maintained?

While solar panels, like those from Qcells, are designed to be durable and long-lasting, they do require occasional maintenance to remain in top condition. Solar maintenance typically falls into two categories, cleaning and repairing, and both are required for peak solar efficiency.

How to Clean Solar Panels

Since solar panels are always exposed to the elements, they can quickly become soiled with dirt and debris. To physically clean solar panels, use only a soft, microfiber cloth and lukewarm — not hot — water to wash the panels gently, then let them air dry. Solar panel cleaning only needs to be done a few times a year.

It’s also important to note that the cleaning timeline will vary based on the home’s location, as factors such as high humidity, salt, and ammonia content in the air can influence how dirty the panels get and how often they need to be cleaned. Solar panels also have unsecured access, and the surface gets extremely hot during the day. This means homeowners could risk falling or burning themselves while cleaning the panels, which means they should take extra precautions to protect against these factors if they want to handle the cleaning on their own.

How to Clean Solar Panels in Heavy Rain or Snow

Rain and snow, when it melts, run down the face of the solar panel, effectively rinsing it off and creating a relatively clean surface. Those who live in areas with lots of rain and snow may have to clean solar panels less during winter or in the rainy months.

How to Repair Solar Panels

If a solar panel needs to be repaired, it’s best to call a professional to take care of them. Individuals who attempt a repair themselves can cause further damage and even invalidate an existing warranty. Homeowners also risk injuring themselves while attempting a DIY repair, so it’s always better to leave this work to a professional. Typically, the company that installed the panels should be contacted for repairs on solar panels.

Can a Cracked Solar Panel be Repaired?

Minor cracks or chips may be able to be repaired, and the panel would need to be repaired off-site. For large cracks or more extensive damage, replacing the panel is usually easier — and more cost-effective — than repairing it. Solar panel owners should not attempt any repairs by themselves.

How Often Should Solar Panels Be Maintained?

Solar maintenance only needs to happen about four times a year. It’s a good idea to schedule maintenance as the seasons change, or every three months, to ensure panels maintain optimal efficiency year-round. If the home is located in an area with high humidity, frequent rain, or poor air quality due to inversion, the panels may need to be cleaned more often.

How to Know When Solar Panels Need Maintenance

If there is visible damage to the solar panels or they feel loose in their mountings, maintenance should be scheduled as soon as possible. If the monitoring system indicates efficiency has decreased or unusual sounds are coming from the panels, that’s another strong indication that the panels need solar maintenance.

How Does Weather Affect Solar Panels?

Solar panels are designed to withstand various temperature extremes, like high winds, excessive heat, or freezing temperatures, though these situations can impact panel performance and functionality. Solar panels work best with direct sunlight, so cloudy, rainy, snowy, or windy conditions can reduce the panel’s energy yield. Wind and hail storms can also cause damage, so checking the solar panels after any weather event is a good idea.

How Long Do Solar Panels Last?

Solar panels are designed to last several decades, though they could last longer than that, thanks to newer technology that allows for higher efficiency and lower degradation rates. However, solar panels slowly lose efficiency over time, so replacing them after 25-30 years could be recommended to maintain the highest efficiency and performance.

What to Do With Unusable Solar Panels

Solar panels are made of mostly recyclable parts, meaning they can be taken apart and recycled once they are no longer usable. It’s best to contact a recycling center and learn about their solar panel recycling requirements before dropping the panels off.

The Cost of Maintaining Solar Panels

While panels usually require very little solar maintenance, they still need to be serviced a few times a year. Since average yearly maintenance can cost around $180[1], it’s a good idea to budget and save for cleaning and repair costs. While cleaning and some maintenance can be done with a DIY approach, contacting professionals is best to ensure the panels are properly taken care of.

Keep in mind that rates will vary from contractor to contractor, so it’s important to do some research before making a decision. Homeowners should read reviews, ensure a company is properly licensed, and get several quotes to find the right contractor for these services.

Cleaning Costs

Solar panel cleaning is usually charged per panel, so costs will vary depending on the size of the solar system. Individual panel cleaning costs between $13 – $25[2] per panel on average.

Repairing Costs

Repairing solar panels depends on the damage and size of the repair. The cost can range from $200-$1,300, though the average cost is around $760[3].

Follow Your Solar Panel Warranty

Solar panel warranties are usually good for 10-25 years and often outline which maintenance work is covered, so it’s important to get familiar with the terms of the warranty. Additionally, DIY maintenance could invalidate the contract, so it’s always best to contact a professional for maintenance, cleaning, and repair work.

Contact Us

If you have questions regarding cleaning or solar maintenance for Qcells solar panels, contact our team today.

[1] https://www.forbes.com/home-improvement/solar/solar-panel-maintenance-tips/#:~:text=Solar%20Panel%20Installer-,Solar%20Panel%20Maintenance%20Cost,and%20cleanings%20can%20cost%20%24150.

[3] https://www.angi.com/articles/how-much-does-it-cost-repair-solar-panels.htm

[2] https://roofgnome.com/blog/cost/solar-panel-cleaning-price/#:~:text=The%20typical%20cost%20of%20having,%2413%20to%20%2425%20per%20panel.

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