Powering your house with solar panels is ideal for several reasons. Making the switch to renewable energy doesn’t just reduce your environmental impact; its cost-efficient perks will also allow you to save money. With the latest models being inexpensive and lasting a lifetime, now’s the perfect time to invest in a solar panel system.
When you’ve finally decided to go solar, you should be aware that your system will require periodic maintenance. While modern solar panels are built to withstand exposure to the elements, this doesn’t eliminate the fact that they need to be taken care of. Since its components can also break down, ensuring that all parts are working fine will allow you to maximize your investment.
But how exactly do you maintain solar panels? Before we dive into the details, it’s important to know their parts.
What are solar panels made of?
With more people realizing its benefits, solar panel technology has advanced tremendously over the past few years. In the past, it was branded as expensive and less efficient, but today’s solar panel systems are far more cost-effective. Despite all the advancements, it’s interesting to know that the design has relatively stayed the same. Here are the six main components that make up a solar panel:
1. Solar PV Cells
Solar photovoltaic (PV) cells are responsible for converting sunlight into electrical energy. They’re small, 0.1mm-thick wafers that can be made with either monocrystalline or polycrystalline silicon.
The kind of cell and silicon used will give you a general idea of a panel’s performance, but differences in size and configuration can also influence its energy production. As a rule of thumb, always remember:
- Monocrystalline – Higher cost and greater efficiency
- Polycrystalline – Lower cost and less efficiency
2. EVA Film
Ethylene-vinyl acetate (EVA) film is a transparent plastic layer resistant to high temperatures and humidity. This polymer covers the PV cells to keep them safe from water leaks and dirt buildup. This component also protects the other inner parts from being damaged by shocks and vibrations.
3. Back sheet
The back sheet is engineered to regulate your panel’s temperature. In addition, this cover is made up of polymer or a combination of polymers that will help protect your panels from environmental damage, UV radiation, and moisture.
The glass sheet is designed to protect the PV cells from impact. It guards the panel against pressure and harsh weather, whether it’s due to heavy rain, searing sunlight, or airborne debris. Normally, the glass is around 3.0 to 4.0mm-thick, and in case of breakage, they will shatter into small fragments instead of sharp, jagged pieces.
5. Aluminum Frame
The aluminum frame plays two key roles: a casing for the PV cells and a mount to fix the panels in a position. These frames are made up of aluminum and designed to be lightweight and resistant to stress. The frame’s design depends on the manufacturer, but the corners can be screwed or clamped together.
6. Junction box and connectors
The junction box is a small weatherproof housing on the backside of a solar panel. Functioning as its central system, it ensures that electricals are working well so that cells can efficiently collect energy. With the help of bypass diodes and weatherproof MC4 connectors, solar panels can avoid back current malfunctions and transfer electricity seamlessly.
General Maintenance of Solar Panels
- Why do I need to have my panels maintained?
Over time, debris may accumulate on your solar panels and damage them. Failure to maintain them will decrease your system’s energy production and lead to costly damages. Through routine checks, your system can perform at its best, enabling you to maximize its cost-saving benefits.
- How often do I need to clean my panels?
Cleaning frequency depends on how fast dirt builds up or on your area’s environment. For instance, homes surrounded by trees may need cleaning more often since the panels are regularly exposed to bird droppings, leaves, and other debris. Cleaning here can be done easily by basic debris removal. But ideally, you can leave it to the experts to have them clean your system once a year.
- How should I clean them?
Cleaning solar panels is just like cleaning a window. All you need to do is use a hose with running water and soap on the glass cover, then wipe clean with a piece of cloth. Avoid using rough sponges, cold water, abrasive detergents, and high-pressure sprayers since they may damage PV cells.
At the same time, always remember to make safety a priority—climbing up the roof will put you at risk of an accident. In case your issue is a bit complex, seeking the services of professional cleaners should do the trick.
- How do I know if my system is performing well?
The best way to know your system’s performance is to monitor your monthly power output. The good news is most systems come with monitoring software, so you don’t have to input data manually.
If you notice that the electricity it’s generating has decreased, there may be a maintenance issue that’s compromising your system. This should be addressed by a technician, particularly if the situation doesn’t improve after some cleaning.
- When do I need to get them serviced?
How often you need to get your solar panel system checked will depend on your chosen provider’s terms. Some companies will require quarterly maintenance, while others do annual inspections. Monitoring your inverter display monthly and keeping in touch with your provider will help you know if it’s time to get the panels serviced.
Maintenance Made Easy
Upon installation, solar panels are immediately exposed to the elements. While they are engineered to withstand stress from harsh weather conditions, this doesn’t mean that they’re immune to damage. Exposure to heat, rain, and debris can affect your system’s performance, making periodic maintenance checks necessary.
Damage in PV cells or the glass casing won’t just be inconvenient; they’ll also take a toll on your budget. Instead of waiting for a costly breakdown, keeping a proactive approach will enable you to make the most out of your solar panel investment. For inquiries regarding solar panel installation, don’t hesitate to reach out to SolarNRG, one of the top solar companies in the Philippines.