The interest in solar panel installation continues to rise in the US. This is largely thanks to increased awareness of climate change, reduced solar panel costs, and federal incentives to go solar.
Though solar panels have been used for residential energy production for decades, they're still a new concept to many homeowners. As a result, it's easy to make mistakes with solar panel care.
The good news is that solar panels don't need a ton of maintenance. The bad news is that without any maintenance (or improper care), you're not going to see the same energy production or lifespan.
Read on as we talk about the seven most common mistakes with solar panel care and what to do instead.
1. Using the Wrong Cleaning Products
At first glance, it's easy to assume that you can use a regular glass cleaner to clean your solar panels. After all, isn't that top layer made of glass?
While the top layer of each solar panel is glass, that glass has a protective coating on it that needs to remain intact. Regular glass cleaners often contain ingredients that can strip or damage that protective coating, leaving your panels exposed to the elements and at risk of scratching.
Learn about solar before you make the investment. An informed solar panel owner knows to use cleaning supplies designed for solar panels, not other household products.
2. Using the Wrong Solar Panel Cleaning Tools
You head up to the roof to look at your solar panels and they're covered in a thick layer of pollen, pollution, and other gunk. It seems like they need a good scrubbing to remove that layer of film. Should you use an abrasive or sharp tool to get the panel clean?
The answer is no. You should always avoid abrasive or sharp cleaning tools, which could scrape the protective coating or the glass, itself, diminishing the panel's ability to capture UV rays. Stick to microfiber cloths and other soft fabrics when cleaning your solar panels.
3. Applying Too Much Pressure
If you can't use abrasive cloths or scrubbers, can you at least use elbow grease? We urge you to avoid applying pressure when you're cleaning your solar panels.
If you're concerned about the build-up of debris, consider one of two options. The first is to clean your panels more often so that build-up doesn't get thick. The second is to apply a light layer of your cleaning solution to the panels, letting it sit for a few minutes to break down the debris before you wipe it away.
4. Neglecting Space Under Solar Panels
Even roof-mounted solar panels can have a small space underneath them. This gap may seem negligible to you, but it isn't to the birds in your neighborhood.
Birds are often drawn to this space because it's warm, sheltered, and tucked away from humans and predators. As a result, you may end up with birds nesting under your solar panels.
If you don't have bird mesh or other protective measures in place, make sure to take a look under your solar panels. Clear out any nesting materials you find and install bird mesh to prevent the birds from coming back. Not only can birds make a huge mess, but those nests can cause rainfall to pool beneath your solar panels, creating a potential for technical difficulties and damage.
5. Overcleaning or Using Too Much Product
Though we urge you to clean your solar panels every few months, we would be remiss if we didn't tell you that it's possible to overclean them. Overcleaning does wear down that protective coating. Overcleaning can happen when you apply cleaning supplies more often than needed or when you use tools like pressure washers to clear away gunk.
On that same note, make sure that you're not using more product than necessary. A few sprays or a dime-sized drop should do the trick. A large amount of product can leave behind a thick film that reduces your solar panel's efficiency.
If you're not sure how much cleaning product is the right amount, read the instructions on the packaging.
6. Never Cleaning Solar Panels
By now, you knew this one was coming. One of the biggest mistakes you can make after installing solar panels is neglecting to clean them for years.
How do you know if it's been too long since you've cleaned your solar panels? One sign is that you never have. If more than a year has passed since installation and you haven't hired a professional to check them out, it's time to get up there and see what's going on.
Another sign is that your panels aren't generating as much energy as they used to. This can result from a number of factors, the least expensive of which is a blockage caused by leaves, debris, and residue.
7. Neglecting Safety Protocols
If your solar panels are up on the roof, you need to exercise caution when cleaning them. Always wear protective gear, including a safety harness, helmet, work gloves, and long-sleeved clothing.
Don't go up on your roof during inclement weather or when no one is home. Wait for a dry, moderate, low-wind day. When you're climbing a ladder, make sure that someone responsible is holding it still at the base.
Avoid These Mistakes With Solar Panel Care
If you're ready to invest in a residential solar system, make sure that you know what to do. That includes what mistakes with solar panel care to avoid. This guide will help you to take good care of your solar panels so that they last for years to come.
Now that your solar panels are up and running, it's time to enjoy some sun-powered television and online entertainment. Look around as we share the latest celebrity news, trends, and exciting Hollywood gossip.