How often should solar panels be checked? It is important to know this because the proper functioning of the panel depends to a large extent on this procedure.
Although solar panels hardly require maintenance, especially in places where there are not usually many weather variations, sometimes it will be necessary to carry out a review of them to make sure that there is nothing obstructing them and that they are working. properly. In this article we want to explain how you should do it, what you should pay attention to and how often. Continue reading for more information!
How to check solar panels
Solar panels are very resistant, durable and efficient, and also offer a large number of benefits related to energy savings. However, their production can be reduced on some occasions —when proper maintenance is not carried out on them—. The revision of the solar panels is necessary from time to time to avoid losses, for example, due to the lack of cleaning of the modules, which can reduce production by 8% of energy . And it is that solar panels are made up of different silicon cells, which react to the impact of photons producing electrical energy. Therefore, the cleaner they are, the higher the productivity. To carry out a review of solar panels, keep in mind the following tips.
Solar panel cleaning
The best way to clean solar panels is to do it with soap and water . You can use a sponge and add a little dishwashing soap to the solution or a soft brush. We recommend you wet them before passing the sponge or brush so that some traces of dirt come off and it is easier for you. Finally, you will have to rinse the solar panels with plenty of water to prevent soap residue from remaining. It is important that you take into account some aspects before starting with the cleaning. Our recommendations are as follows:
- Avoid cleaning the solar panels on windy days as the dirt will adhere to the plates when they are wet and they will be worse than they were.
- Do not use abrasive detergents, or abuse the amount of soap.
- Do not pressure wash to prevent these from being damaged.
- If access is very complicated, leave it to the professionals. It is important that before cleaning you take all the necessary security measures.
Check the operation of the solar panels
Another thing you should do when carrying out a review of solar panels is to take measurements with a multimeter to check their operation .. It is possible that for one reason or another the solar panel is failing, even though they are clean. Perhaps due to a fault in the installation, perhaps due to a problem with the collectors, the pipes or due to poor insulation. The multimeter will let you know which board is failing and find a solution. To make the measurement, connect the leads of the multimeter to the terminals of the solar panel (red lead with positive and black with negative). Also make sure that the multimeter leads are properly connected (red to the VΩ terminal and black to the COM terminal). Then, set the selector of the device to direct current to be able to measure the energy that is generated in the solar panel. You must check that the results obtained correspond to those indicated. in the specifications or instructions of the solar panel.
Make sure there are no hot spots
Hot spots or hot spots are areas of the solar panel in which the temperature rises considerably and, consequently, results in a localized decrease in efficiency —in addition to accelerating the degradation of materials—. What exactly happens with hot spots is that part of the energy that is generated ends up being dissipated at a specific point because it is consumed by that area of the solar panel, which leads to overheating. This can be due to several reasons:
- Misalignment in the cells due to making connections in series with plates of different current.
- Damage to the cells of the solar panel.
- Seasonal shadows, due to the slope of the roof or other elements, such as trees.
- Accumulation of dirt and soil.
Solar panels review: how often should they be reviewed?
As we have seen, it is very important to carry out a review of the solar panels to ensure that they work properly, but also to prevent them from deteriorating over time, reducing their useful life. Depending on the type of maintenance you are going to carry out, the time will vary. We see it:
- Cleaning of solar panels : Preventive maintenance cleaning of solar panels should be carried out every 3 months. Likewise, it is advisable to check if there are any flaws that can be seen with the naked eye and if there are any shaded areas (to avoid hot spots). This review can be carried out directly by the owner of the photovoltaic installation.
- Review of the delicate areas of the solar panel : This type of maintenance must be carried out approximately every 6 months by a specialized technician to check the most delicate parts, such as the pipes, but also to check the insulation, to make sure that there are no leaks or deformations and to check if there is moisture inside the plates, among others.
- Maintenance of the thermal solar panel collectors : It is advisable that once a year a specialized technician attends to carry out the maintenance of the solar collectors. Solar collectors are used to produce hot water by taking advantage of the sun’s heat and transferring it to the home’s installation.
Carrying out the maintenance and revision of solar panels is highly advisable, especially in areas where there is a lot of wind —due to the dust in suspension— or in places where it usually snows. Likewise, it is advisable to pay more attention to the review, especially during the first year, so you can check your situation and estimate if it is worth delaying the maintenance dates of the solar panels or bringing them forward. Keep in mind that all this will affect the final performance of your electrical installation.