Solar panels generally require very little maintenance. They are very durable and should last around 25-30 years. The only maintenance you should need to perform is to wash them clean of dirt and dust two to four times a year. This basic cleaning routine ensures that the sun can shine brightly on the panel, maximizing the amount of light available to turn into electrical power.
A properly maintained solar system can accelerate investment payback and increase yields by up to 30 percent. Having a watchful and proactive eye on your investment is vital to ensuring maximum ROI.
Essentially, there are three core components of O&M:
- Monitoring and reporting: Commercial solar is generally a very low-maintenance technology. That said, having information that provides you with the confidence that everything is operating as expected can be very helpful. Most solar O&M providers offer remote monitoring services that can give you regular performance reports and also alert an operations center about any performance issues, repair needs or system outages so they can be addressed. Some providers offer cloud-based services that allow you to generate reports in real-time, rather than having to wait for an automated monthly report.
- Preventive maintenance: As with any technology you purchase for your business, the best way to prevent costly problems with your commercial solar system is to conduct regular preventive maintenance, such as panel cleaning and annual equipment inspections. Most O&M providers contract with local vendors to come out and clean your panels for you. Solarponics offers O&M services for the California Central Coast. For other locations across the U.S., we work with our Amicus Co-Op partners to deliver consistent, reliable, and cost-effective O&M service. Frequency of cleaning can range from never (in areas where it rains often) to quarterly (in extreme circumstances). Generally, twice a year is sufficient. Robotic panel cleaners are available from some panel manufacturers as well. Because robots are built to fit the manufacturer’s own panels, they’re not universal, and they’re typically only useful for large, ground-mounted solar installations.
- Corrective maintenance: Corrective measures include troubleshooting, diagnostics, repairs, replacements and upgrades needed to keep the system operating at an optimal level. Although high-quality panels are extremely durable and seldom have issues, no manufacturer is immune to delivering the occasional defective panel. Less-expensive panels are often prone to early wear-and-tear issues like delamination (i.e., peeling) or corrosion. Depending on the terms of your product and/or power warranty, you or your O&M provider may be able to make a claim and have the manufacturer repair or replace the equipment in question.