So, you have a shiny, new set of solar panels on your roof? Congrats! You’re about to get some amazing benefits like lower energy bills and fewer outages, all while reducing your home’s environmental impact. It’s all very exciting, but now you’re left with one question: How should you take care of them? You’ll be pleased to know that solar panels are pretty low maintenance. They’re built to withstand some of the most extreme weather conditions, and can last you around 25-30 years with very little upkeep.
Here’s everything you need to know to take care of your solar panels and get the most value out of your system.
Generally, solar panels require very little maintenance to function efficiently over the course of their lifetime, though there are a few things you can do to keep them in tip-top shape.
1. Keep an eye on your system’s performance and be sure to address any changes. This will help you identify any issues early on and keep your system running as efficiently as possible.
2. Clean your panels periodically to remove dirt. A quick rinse with a garden hose can help prevent stains and buildup that could affect your panels’ performance.
3. Clear obstructions like tree branches and other debris when you see them on your panels. This helps maintain efficiency and prevent overheating.
Your maintenance schedule will depend on a variety of factors, including the angle of your panels, how much dust they collect in your area, and how frequently debris from storms or surrounding trees falls onto your roof. A few things to keep in mind:
1. Most manufacturers recommend cleaning your panels one to three times per year, though you could get away with a bit less depending on the variables mentioned above. Keep an eye out for obstructions and be sure to clean as needed.
2. An annual inspection can help you ensure your panels are running at optimal efficiency. During the inspection, a qualified professional will check the wiring and evaluate output to make sure you’re getting the most value from your panels.
3. One-off maintenance may be required if you notice a change in output or damage to the panels. Check with your solar provider to understand the best maintenance practices, and be sure to keep an eye on the performance dashboard to identify any immediate maintenance needs.
Modern solar panels are made from durable materials that can withstand extreme weather like hail, wind, snow, and rain. While your panels are likely to weather most storms, they aren’t 100% indestructible, and it will be important to keep an eye on their performance following big storms. Here are a few things you should know:
A thin layer of snow will not affect your panels’ function. Light will still be able to pass through when very little snow has accumulated, and wind will eventually blow it off. However, if several layers of snow accumulate on your panels after a heavy storm, it could prevent your panels from generating sufficient power until the snow melts.
In most cases, your panels will be angled enough that the snow will slide off on its own. If you can, it’s best to allow time for the snow to melt or slide off before attempting to clean it. If the snowfall is exceptionally heavy or lasts too long to wait it out, you can brush it off using a roof broom, or enlist the help of a professional. Just be sure to avoid hot water and tools like rakes that could damage your panels.
Solar panels typically hold up well against hail. Though damage from hail is rare, it is possible for your panels to chip or crack if you get hit with a particularly heavy storm. Most manufacturers cover hail up to a certain diameter in their warranty. If the damage is not covered by the warranty, it is possible your home insurance provider will cover repairs.
A cracked or broken panel can be repaired in some cases, though it’s often more cost effective to replace the panel entirely. Many providers offer an equipment warranty that covers repairs for damage and performance issues, so it’s a good idea to check with your provider to understand what they cover. Your home insurance provider might also cover costs that your warranty doesn’t–check in with your insurance provider to learn more.
As an important reminder, never attempt to repair or replace a panel on your home unless you are properly trained. Always call your provider or another qualified professional to perform repairs and installations.
The cost of maintaining panels will be different for every homeowner. If you prefer the DIY approach to cleaning, regular maintenance will be free. If you’d prefer to hire a cleaning service for this task, that could cost roughly $150 per session.
As far as the inspection goes, you’re looking at a cost of around $150 for your annual inspection. Check with your solar provider to see what they offer or if they have recommendations for professionals in your area.
The cost of miscellaneous maintenance to repair an underperforming panel, fix cracks, or replace damaged panels over time may vary. Take a look at your warranty to understand what your manufacturer and insurance provider will cover.
Most solar panels come with a manufacturer’s warranty that guarantees their performance for a set number of years. This warranty typically lasts for 15 to 20 years, though some manufacturers offer up to 25 years of coverage. Be sure to carefully read your warranty to understand what it covers and what it does not. As mentioned above, in some cases, your homeowners insurance might fill in gaps. Also important to note, some warranties include stipulations for maintenance, so removing debris and built-up dirt periodically will be an important part of ensuring the warranty is there when you need it.
Now that you know the basics of solar panel maintenance, you’re ready to sit back, relax, and reap all the great benefits of going solar. If you haven’t purchased panels quite yet, take our quick quiz to find out if your home would be a good fit.