Everything you need to know about solar panel maintenance
Accelerated by rising energy costs, frequent electricity interruptions and the movement towards cleaner energy, businesses across the continent are moving to solar energy. From manufacturing, to agriculture, commercial, hospitality and other sectors, the solar revolution is enabling organisations to continue their operations while lowering carbon emissions.
Solar panel systems are remarkably durable and continue producing electricity for long after their costs have been amortized, providing beneficial costing structures. Like most industrial equipment, they require maintenance over their productive lifetime, which is generally 20 – 25 years. In the rare event that something does go wrong, your solar PV system components have warranties that cover replacement and repair costs within a reasonable time period.
This blog article provides a short overview of what solar panel maintenance entails, as well as how New Southern Energy can support you with this function should we build a solar plant for your company.
Solar Panel Maintenance – why this is important
Solar cell efficiency refers to the percentage of solar energy shining onto the panel that is converted to electricity by the solar cell. Maximising the power output of your system is a key objective in any solar system. Undertaking regular solar panel maintenance will ensure that your solar system operates safely, correctly and as efficiently as possible.
Due to pollution and environmental factors, over time, dust and debris will build up on your solar panels. This may compromise the performance of your solar plant. In addition, water and moisture seepage, vermin, hail, wind and sunlight can all cause damage or deterioration to your system.
By ensuring regular routine solar panel maintenance is undertaken, you can ensure that your system is safe for everyone on the premises, along with electrical workers working on the distribution network. Routine maintenance will also ensure system performance is kept in good condition, allowing you to maximise savings on your energy bills for many years.
Solar Panel Maintenance – Cleaning
The topic of cleaning solar panels is widely debated among smaller system owners. Some say that it is completely necessary, while others claim that rain washes away any problems that the panels may encounter. This is, however, not the case with larger industrial systems, where the need to clean is essential.
Larger systems are built for optimal efficiency. The performance of the system gets compromised if the panels become dirty. While rain will certainly wash away certain substances that accumulate on the panels, it won’t be as effective as a manual clean. These systems are also built to ensure that cleaners can access the panels easily.
Dust, dirt, pollen and debris that accumulates on solar panels have the potential to decrease the efficiency of a system by an estimated 5 – 10 %. In dry, dusty areas, this can be magnified. The bottom line is that panels need regular good cleaning.
Solar panel maintenance – what is involved
Solar panel maintenance system involves various elements, that are best done by an experienced team. Regular maintenance of a solar panel system will ensure:
- solar panels are clean, unobstructed secure and free of defects
- no parts have deteriorated/corroded
- vents are free of debris
- switches do not have any defects
- wiring has not been damaged or has not deteriorated
- electrical checks to ensure all components are operating optimally
- confirming fittings, clamps and cables are still securely attached
- reviewing the inverter display panel for recorded faults
- checking that access to the isolator switches has not been impeded, and/or
- ensuring the emergency procedures for shutdown and isolation are in working order.
Outsourcing Operations and Maintenance
The performance of the systems we build is monitored and controlled through a master controller, which can also communicate with the inverters. All of the data is logged and saved in cloud-based storage. Furthermore, the performance can be monitored in real time via a smart phone app. By paying attention to changes in production, we can identify and address issues proactively.
New Southern Energy has a division dedicated to providing operations and maintenance services for the solar plants that we build, with various packages available. Our team is geared to perform regular checks on aspects such as the panels, strings, inverters, and clamps. Our technicians will do on-site walk through’s, assessments, and repair anything that is deteriorating. If anything appears out of the ordinary, our technicians will log in remotely to investigate and correct the issue. If on-site intervention is needed, a team will be deployed as quickly as possible.
If you lease your solar panel system, or procure it through a power purchasing agreement, the solar panel maintenance become our responsibility, not yours.
Read more about this service here.