Solar Panel Maintenance, Iowa

Solar Panel Maintenance, Iowa
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What Does Solar Panel Maintenance Look Like?

Top-of-the-Line Solar Panel Services From Professional Solar Panel Installers in Iowa

One of the more intimidating aspects of owning a solar panel system is keeping the array maintained.  Both home and business owners may have questions, like:   

  • How much solar panel maintenance is required to keep them healthy? 
  • How do you clean them?  
  • Should they be checked routinely, or can they be left alone for long periods of time?  

These are all understandable and perfectly reasonable questions for anyone who either has or is thinking of installing, a solar energy system to ask.  The quick and simple answer to these maintenance questions and others is as follows: in reality, solar panels require little upkeep in order to function properly throughout their lifespan.   One of the only real regular “tune-ups” they need is a cleaning now and again to clear out debris buildup—dirt, leaves, other miscellaneous blockages—in order to make sure they’re getting as much sun as possible.   

There is one significant sign of solar panel maintenance being needed—a gradual, or sudden decline, in power output.  If this problem isn’t resolved by cleaning the panels, there could be an internal issue with the array’s components.  An inspection and possible repair may be required to bring the system back up to full power, but no worries, with our Panasonic line all of the equipment is covered for 25 years, parts, labor, truck roll fees and shipping!

For an extensive breakdown of solar panel maintenance, please refer to the National Renewable Energy Laboratory’s best practices manual, located here

Operations & Maintenance Plans

ECG Solar recommends an annual preventive and equipment maintenance service plan that includes inspections, monitoring/reporting, system repairs, spare parts handling and warranty administration. This plan also includes cleaning modules, modules that are not contact cleaned at least once a year can reduce power production up to 15% depending on environment. Each of these activities are summarized in the Preventive & Equipment Maintenance Service Activities table below.
 
Plans vary in cost depending on system size, complexity and service location. Plans can extend into other product lines for service such as EV Chargers, Battery Systems and Generators. ECG Solar provides O&M services on all systems and technologies regardless if the system was sold or installed by ECG Solar.
Solar PV Module Inspection
  • Inspect for cracks or damage to panel, wiring or frame
  • Inspect for dirt, environmental debris, vegetation, or other shading
Solar PV Module Inspection
  • Inspect for damaged connectors, loose wires, retaining devices and ground issues
  • IV Curve testing as necessary based on monitoring alerts or site conditions
DC Electrical Inspection
  • Inspect DC homeruns for damaged/loose wires, debris, and conduit issues
  • Inspect combiner boxes, verify disconnect& validate latch integrity

Inverter Inspection & Maintenance

  • Inspect inverter(s) for corrosion, ventilation, damage & seals
  • Inspect all incoming and outgoing DC, AC, or data wires for wear or damage
  • Complete manufacture recommended annual maintenance activities

Racking & Mounting Inspection

  • Inspect mounting system for damage, corrosion and loose connectors

Solar PV Module Inspection

  • Inspect disconnect latches and seals, validate disconnect functionality

AC Electrical Inspection

  • Inspect AC electrical from the inverter, through the disconnects & into the transformer or building electrical system for damage, wear and functionality

Module Cleaning

  • Clean modules by approved method and cleaning solution 1x per year (Spring)

Ground vs. Roof Solar Panels

Ground-Mounted Solar Panel Systems

Pros:

  • Easy access
  • Easy cleaning
  • Better overall racking
  • Produces slightly more energy
  • No need to remove the panels for roof repair

Cons:

  • Installation is more labor-intensive
  • Installation is more expensive
  • Requires more parts and pieces
  • Permitting process is more expensive
  • Takes up real estate
  • Not aesthetically pleasing to everyone

Roof-Mounted Solar Panel Systems

Pros:

  • Less expensive
  • Requires fewer materials to install
  • Installation labor cost is lower
  • Utilizes unused space
  • Easier to permit

Cons:

  • Hard to access–especially if your roof is steep 
  • Harder to troubleshoot errors
  • Higher panel temperatures mean lower panel output
  • Space and zoning constraints limit the size of the system
  • Can be a hassle if you need to replace the roof within the panel’s lifetime (might install the system twice)

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Solar Panel Cleaning

Solar panel cleaning isn’t that difficult for the most part, and can often be done by the home or business owners themselves.

One of the biggest factors in terms of solar panel debris buildup is the pitch—the angle—of the panels themselves.   This is why getting a proper site assessment from solar installers you can trust is so important to the overall lifetime health of the system.  

A common cleaning issue for panels is dust and dirt, referred to as soiling. These particulates can be cleared away with a garden hose more often than not; in the case of larger systems/arrays, a different cleaning tool may be needed in order to fully cover the area. 

Sometimes, there are other substances and messes that can develop on solar panels.   In these situations, where a good scrubbing is required, it’s advised that the system owner be gentle with the panels—forceful cleaning could potentially damage the solar cells and lead to lessened energy output. Never use a power washer and always use deionized water to prevent water spots from etching the glass and actually creating a rough surface for even more soiling to “stick” to glass.

If the mess or obstruction on the panels is more serious than a cleaning or scrubbing will get out, it’s advised that the system owner contact their local solar panel installers/repairmen in order to get proper maintenance services.

You can clean the panels by following these steps:
  1. Pick an early morning or early evening, never clean modules in the sun at temperatures above 75F
  2. Setup the appropriate safety gear and PPE
  3. Setup the deionized water treatment system and correct cleaning instruments approved for solar panels
  4. Apply water to modules starting at the top and beginning cleaning the modules by physical contact
  5. Rinse the modules thoroughly
  6. Allow panels to air dry

Note: Never use power washer as this will potentially damage the module and void warranty.

Iowa's Premier Solar Provider™

Why choose ECG Solar™?

Across the state of Iowa, ECG Solar™ is Iowa’s Premier Solar Provider™.  Since our founding, we’ve been committed to providing the best service and products.  And today, we continue this tradition with high-quality solar storage batteries from Enphase™, solar panels from Premium Tier 1 Panasonic™ Panels, and standby generators from Kohler™.

Learn more about the benefits of turning to ECG Solar™ for solar panel installation.  We’re proud to serve home and business owners in Cedar Rapids and communities throughout Iowa.

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We carry Tier 1 Photovoltaic (PV) panels, ACPV systems by Panasonic™, and more.  You’ll get top-of-the-line products for a reasonable price.

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Our Kohler™ standby generators are robust and durable units that will keep your power systems running when everyone else is in the dark.

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Save money and power for commercial and residential structures with ECG’s Enphase™ solar battery storage systems.

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Make sure your home or business vehicle never goes without a charge with one of our ECG Solar™ EV Chargers.

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