Solar Panel Maintenance

Solar Panel Maintenance made easy: A Guide for homeowners

Once you have installed solar panels, it makes sense that you will want to keep them in optimum condition to get the most out of your investment. The good news is that solar panels are designed to be low maintenance and only require basic cleaning to clear dust and debris. Cleaning solar panels can be very straightforward if you follow a few simple tips. Alternatively, there are some excellent solar panel cleaning services out there if you prefer to outsource the task. They can also usually carry out routine maintenance and servicing inspections, including inverter checks and battery performance, at the same time.

Either way, it is important to keep on top of routine cleaning and maintenance. It helps enormously with improving energy production, keeping the panels looking nice and protecting the whole system from damage and dirt. Before you set about hiring solar experts, take a look at the following routine care tips and cleaning techniques.

Timing is everything

You should aim to clean and maintain your solar panels at least twice per year. This will help with ensuring peak performance. The job should be done at the end of autumn to clear away any leaves or dirt left on the panels by the rain. Then, it should be repeated at the end of spring to get them as clean as possible before the strong rays of summer sunshine start to hit. If you live in a dusty area, or in the countryside, where there may be more pollen, you should look at cleaning and maintaining solar panels every three months. Choose an overcast day to clean and carry out maintenance. Good times of day include early morning or late evening when there is less (or no) sun hitting the panels. Do not work on them during excessive heat, rain, snow or high winds.

Pre-checks and visual inspection

Before starting work, do a thorough check of the solar panels to see if there is any damage or other issues needing urgent attention. Look for cracks, breaks or loose connections. You may need to call in an expert if there is serious damage or dirt needing to be shifted. Do not put yourself in danger trying to fix difficult issues yourself or climbing on rooftops to access tricky areas. If the panels are tilted, this will make it easier to inspect and clean them. Rain will also wash away dust and debris (to a certain extent) from tilted panels. If any sections have come away from the roof, you will generally need to have them reattached by a professional solar panel maintenance company. Do not attempt to repair the panels yourself in the name of making cost savings. This can not only be dangerous, but it can also invalidate the manufacturer’s warranty.

Gently does it

Never use an abrasive soap or sponge to clean your solar panels. Instead, use plain, lukewarm water, or a mild detergent that has been specially formulated for the job. Use a soft brush or cloth to rub away any stubborn dirt, taking care not to scrub too hard. This could cause corrosion or scratches to the panels and lead to problems for the inverter and connections. If you clean your solar panels regularly, you should be

able to get away with a gentle clean like this, or even just run a hose across the surface to get rid of any surface dust and debris. Allow the solar panels to air dry. If there is a lot of residue water, wipe them gently with a dry, microfibre cloth. Use a brush or cleaning pole with a long, extendable handle and clean from the ground for maximum safety.

Post-cleaning and maintenance checks

Once you have finished inspecting, cleaning and arranging solar panel maintenance, you should make a note of the date the task was completed, as well as any additional repair or upgrading work that was carried out. This will help you work out when the next clean and maintenance is due. Keep an eye on the inverters to make sure they are flashing green. This helps you with ensuring peak performance after the solar panels have been checked and cleaned. Take a quick look every day to check for anything obvious. Monitor your energy usage and battery storage statistics to make sure that you are generating the amount of electricity that you are expecting to. If anything looks unusual, then book a professional maintenance and/or repair.

energy-saving appliances

 Solar Smarts: Keeping your fridge cold and your wallet happy

We all rely on our fridge to keep perishable foods cold and fresh for longer. However, it can use a fair bit of electricity as it is never turned off at the mains. If you are looking at ways of lowering electricity bills, the fridge may not, therefore be your first thought. However, there can be several cost savings to be found via refrigerator efficiency measures that could become part of more sustainable living. These include switching to solar battery storage instead of relying on mains electricity to power your fridge and freezer.

Here are some more fridge and freezer energy efficiency tips for you to think about, ahead of the late spring and summer seasons.

Keep it clean

We all like to see a clean, hygienic and mess-free fridge. However, how many of us regularly clean the outside of the fridge as well as the inside? Dust and dirt that builds up on the condenser coils at the back of the fridge can stop the fridge from cooling properly, putting pressure on its mechanisms and reducing its efficiency by as much as one-quarter of its normal capabilities. Pull the fridge out so that you can access to the condenser coils and gently vacuum them to get rid of surface dust. Use a brush to shift any stubborn dust or dirt for greater energy efficiency. Vacuum underneath the fridge too, to stop any dust or dirt getting clogged up in the mechanisms and reducing energy efficiency.

Check the seals

If your fridge or freezer doors won’t close properly, the cold air will escape, leading to inefficient cooling and a lower return on investment (ROI). Your appliance will need to work harder and use more electricity to replace the cool air and keep your food chilled or frozen. Check the door seals regularly for signs of damage, warping or hardening. You can usually replace them yourself for very little money, helping keep the costs of energy management down. Keep a regular eye on temperatures inside the fridge or freezer to make sure that the seals are working properly.

Savvy storage

Never put hot food straight into the fridge, such as leftovers or freshly-baked goods. Allow them to cool down first on the side, or on a cooling rack. This will stop the heat from the newly introduced food from raising the temperature inside the fridge. Don’t leave leftovers sitting on the side for more than two hours for food safety reasons, however. If you have time, defrost frozen food slowly inside the fridge rather than leaving it out, or using your microwave’s ‘defrost’ function. The much lower temperatures of the defrosting food will help cool the rest of the refrigerator and reduce the work it has to do to keep everything cold inside.

Think before you open – or restock the fridge

Don’t overload the fridge, or it will be harder to keep things cool and prevent spillages inside. Keep it reasonably full, though, so you are not paying to chill empty space. Try not to open the door too often, or keep it open for too long. This will let

more warm air inside, reducing the effects of your energy-saving appliances on the electricity usage and household bills.

Choose energy-saving appliances

If it is time to upgrade your fridge or freezer, or you are looking for a second or even third model for extra food storage, choose an energy-efficient model, or one that can run using renewable energy. Check the energy rating of your energy-saving appliances to find the best one for sustainable living. Usually, the ratings go from A (most energy-efficient) down to G. You should balance the energy efficiency rating with size, price, capacity and other considerations when choosing your new fridge or freezer.

Solar panel installation

Last, but by no means least, solar panel installation really can make a huge difference to electricity costs. This is not just for fridges and freezer, but throughout the house. Households can enjoy maximising solar savings by switching wholly or partially to off-grid power for running kitchen and other appliances. Collecting solar power during the day means that any excess can be transferred to solar battery storage. This ensures that your fridge and freezer can continue to be powered throughout the night to keep food chilled or frozen and ready to enjoy.