Maintenance of Solar Panels and Solar PV systems significantly affect their performance. Their regular servicing helps you get total power output from the panels and saves you from hazardous events. Solar panels need Maintenance twice or thrice yearly depending upon the installed system. Solar system maintenance needs annual servicing; however, if your system is producing and delivering its maximum output, then no other inspections need other than the annual system inspection.
Figure: Maintenance of Solar Panels and Solar PV systems
However, two maintenance-related topics will be thoroughly covered in this article.
How Often Do Solar Panels Need Maintenance?
The cleaning and maintenance of solar panels are dependent on the manufacturer’s warranty on the solar panel. Because different PV panels differ slightly in efficiency, manufacturing warranty, and performance. Maintenance needs the most efficient PV panels (such as monocrystalline panels).
Therefore, on average solar panels need twice – thrice times Maintenance yearly, in its lifespan of 20-25 years. The Maintenance of solar panels is not hard to do. Moreover, you can maintain your rooftop solar panels by yourself. If you are concerned that you will damage the solar panel, you can consult a solar panel maintenance company near you. Most solar companies offer an average maintenance plan of about $120-$150. Additionally, Solar Panel Costing provides the best solar panel maintenance services in the UK.
Figure: Solar PV panel maintenance
Why do Solar PV panels need Maintenance?
The manufacturing of solar panels is of silicon elements. Why choose silicon for solar panel manufacturing? It is a bid debate. However, the short answer is that silicon is abundant on earth; however, comparatively less-degradable(takes 25-30 years), and non-corrosive characteristics, and is inexpensive. However, Germanium (Ge) is another alternative to its efficiency, but it is more expensive. So, Silicon (Si) is the best fit economically. Therefore, they’re made up of semiconductors (like Si, Ge), which are abundant in nature and can produce an electric current when the photons strike and eject the electron in its outermost shell.
The reason behind the solar PV panel’s Maintenance is the degradable nature of fabricated semiconductors over time. However, they can lose their efficiency with time. If the sun irradiance does not strike the solar panel’s valence shell of Si atoms, it cannot generate the current it usually produces. That’s Why the solar panel needs regular servicing to maintain its efficiency and sharpness.
Figure: sun irradiance on panel
How Often should Solar PV Power systems need Maintenance?
The solar PV systems need Maintenance annually or whenever you notice that your solar panel is not generating its optimal power output (kWh per kWp). Before moving to investigate the solar panel power system, you must check whether your solar panel is producing its optimal power output and the current and voltage of the solar PV panel every month; if there is a change in the values of the solar panel, then it indicates that your solar panel needs examination or deep inspection.
Inspection of Solar module of the solar PV power system
The standard testing condition of a Solar PV panel evaluate by—a flash test and a visual inspection of the solar panel.
During the entire warranty of 20-25 years of a solar PV panel, it undergoes natural pressure energy like
the fluctuating environmental temperature (in the morning, evening, and the daytime) and temperatures over 25-27 degrees Celsius will lose the panels efficiency to about 1 percent,
mechanical natural energy forces like hail, snow, and heavy rain(researcher examine that the solar panel has the power to resist hail),
high energetic UV irradiance (remember to produce electricity, a solar panel does not need how much intensity of heat strikes its surface),
humidity and moisture
Accelerated stress testing is performed to test the solar panel, including UV testing, humidity freeze testing, bypass diode( to tackle the shading effect), etc., to check whether it is resistant to the stresses.
Different non-modular component of the Solar PV System needs Maintenance and testing. These maintenance and inspection phases include testing wiring, wiring size, DC Connections, Charge Controller, Battery maintenance, and inverters.
Figure: Inspection of Solar module
Maintenance of each module of the solar PV power system
Let’s discuss the Maintenance of each non-modular part of the solar PV power system in detail.
Wiring is crucial in maintaining the non-modular parts of the solar PV power system. Check the insulation and sealed wiring of the solar panel; Ground conductors wiring has to check whether it’s properly installed or not, and examine whether the solar panel is fixed to the rooftop.
- DC Box or DC combiner box Connections
The series and shunt (parallel) connection of the solar panels is designed to level up or down the voltage to match the rated voltage of the solar panel. The combiner box or DC box connects all strings by separating thin strips. The input from the separate, either parallel or series, combines to make a single output; this output from the DC box feeds into the input of the inverter.
Additionally, DC Box or DC combiner boxes have fuses, overcharged, undercharged, and surge protection along with series or shunt connections in a box frame to protect the inverters from damage if a hazardous event occurs.
Figure: DC combiner box
- Wiring Size
The stand AWG uses in solar panel wiring installation. Note that the more the AWG nominal value, the thick the wire will be, so carry more current through it and has fewer chances of being burnt; however, it withstands slight overcharging events. Commercially 10 gauge wire is used in the solar power system, carrying approximately 3 Amphers of current from the single solar panel.
- Charge Controller
Charge Controller commonly tags as the battery charger involves battery back-up to defend the battery from being overcharged or deep-discharged. The charge controller also ensures that no battery charge flows back to the solar array at sundown. The Maintenance determines whether the wire size is appropriate for these tasks based on its functionality.
Figure: charge controller maintenance
- Battery maintenance
Low-cost, inexpensive batteries usually need Maintenance. The battery requires over current and leakage current protection in periodic Maintenance. For example, the liquid vent batteries require periodically (almost every month) refill of distilled water to maintain the water level during charging. Check the electrolytic level in acidic batteries almost every month.
Sealed gell batteries need regular Maintenance as overcharging will destroy the battery.
Moreover, if the Maintenance of the battery does not do periodically, the battery lifespan becomes shortened. And security safety issues may encounter.
Figure: Battery maintenance
The inverters ensure the proper accurate sine wave and wave frequency for the load devices. The issues that evolve in the solar inverter occur when extreme weather (too cold or hot to withstand) affects its lifespan of about 5 years. Inverters have intelligent meters and disconnect switches, and islanding detection features. In the condition of Islanding, the Solar inverters trigger the disconnect switches, isolate them from the grid live line, and shut down the power delivered to the grid station. If there any malfunction occurs in the inverter, it can fix quickly.
Figure: Solar PV Inverter
It is helpful to regulate the inspection and maintenance of solar PV panels and the solar power system. If malfunctioning detects early and corrected timely, electrical safety risks and damage to solar panels and solar power system components are reduced. Solar PV panel cleaning and power maintenance at the right time save your investment.