Since they have no moving parts, the word is that solar panels need no maintenance at all. While the maintenance consists of very little, responsible manufacturers will tell you that there is some care involved. The good news is that you wont be up on the roof making adjustments or doing anything more than a bit of cleaning. Most panels are built to last decades without a lot of fuss, but an occasional rinse will ensure they last to their potential.
The solar panels should be clean to operate at full capacity. Dust and bird droppings are the main culprits up on the roof, where the solar panels are installed. According to Rec Solar, dust collection can reduce system performance by as much as 7 percent annually.
According to the U.S. Department of Energy, different systems require different types of maintenance, but plan on 8 to 16 hours of maintenance annually. Other sources cite maintenance requirements at 1 to 4 times a year, depending on location. Panels located in high development or agricultural areas may require more attention. Plan to take the ladder out around summertime, when the highest production is expected.
While dishwashing soap or other nonabrasive cleaning agent are sometimes recommended, a hose or water spray cleaner should serve just fine. Since the frames support your panels and help them maintain their lifespan, give those some attention as well. Rec Solar recommends using a standard garden hose and nozzle in the morning hours, when there arent drastic temperature changes.
Solar panel failure is rare, but most often due to water damage. Proper installation is critical to preventing this from happening in your panels future. A certified solar installer will be able to provide you with a maintenance calendar for recommended procedures, such as checking connections and fuse holders to make sure they are clean and dry. Maintenance checks from your installer will determine whether further care is needed, such as a silicon sealant to repair damages around the frame.
For many, a short, yearly rinse is a small price for three decades of silent, reliable use. Not a bad bargain by any means.