How to Keep Your Solar Power System Running Smoothly

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Installing a solar power system is an excellent way to reduce your electricity bills and carbon footprint. But like any technology, solar panels, batteries, and related equipment require some routine maintenance to keep operating at peak performance. With some basic upkeep, your solar setup will provide reliable renewable energy for decades. Here’s how to keep your solar power system humming along smoothly.

Solar Panel Maintenance

Those glass-covered panels are built tough to withstand the elements, but they still need some periodic TLC.

Cleaning

Over time, dirt, dust, pollen, and bird droppings can accumulate on the panel surfaces, obstructing sunlight and reducing output. Rinse off grime every few months using a non-abrasive cloth or soft brush and just water. Avoid harsh cleaners.

Inspection

Regularly inspect panels for cracks, moisture intrusion or damage from storms. Tighten any loose racking hardware and clear away overhanging tree branches that could create shade coverage. Check cable connections for corrosion too.

Monitor Performance

Keep an eye on your system monitor to check if any panels are underperforming compared to the rest. That could indicate an issue requiring closer inspection or potential replacement.

Battery Maintenance 

If your solar system uses rechargeable batteries for energy storage, proper battery management is essential for longevity.

Water Levels

For flooded lead-acid batteries, check water levels monthly and refill as needed. Low water causes damage.

Charge Levels

The good folk at Clore Automotive recommend using a 24-volt battery tester periodically to check charge levels. Undercharged or overcharged batteries degrade faster. Most systems have built-in charge controllers, but manual overrides may be required.

Cable Connections 

Corroded or loose battery terminal connections reduce charge rates and efficiency. Clean off any corrosion and ensure a tight fit.

Maintain Environment

Keep batteries in a cool, dry location with proper ventilation around them. Excess heat exposure can speed up battery aging.

Battery Replacements

No battery lasts forever. When your solar batteries exhibit reduced capacity, excessive corrosion or physical damage like swelling or cracking, it is time to replace them. The typical lifespan for lead-acid batteries is 5-7 years, while lithium-ion ones may last 7-10 years with proper care. Always replace batteries in matched pairs or full banks to ensure balanced capacity and voltages. Properly recycling old batteries is crucial to avoid environmental contamination from their lead and acid contents.

Inverter Maintenance

The inverter transforms direct current (DC) electricity from solar panels and batteries into usable alternating current (AC) for your home. Key maintenance for inverters:

Air Filters

Clean or replace air filters regularly to prevent overheating. Most filter maintenance is recommended every 6-12 months.

Heat Sinks

The inverter’s metal heat sink fins should be inspected and cleaned if caked with dust. This is because built-up grime hinders heat dissipation.

Error Messages

Always take any error messages or fault signals on your inverter system display seriously. Flashing lights or codes indicate potential failure you’ll want to investigate and fix promptly.

General Safety

A few basic safety tips when working on any part of your solar power system:

De-Energize Circuits

Always turn off circuits, disconnect batteries and use lockout procedures when maintaining equipment to avoid shocks or arc flashes.

Use Insulated Tools

Non-conductive tools with insulated handles prevent grounding electricity through your body. Only use tools approved for electrical work.

Wear Protection  

Gloves, safety goggles, steel-toe boots and other personal protective equipment should be worn when servicing solar components.

Track Components

Label and document any wiring or components you disconnect for easier reassembly. Take photos for reference.

Conclusion

Following these straightforward maintenance guidelines means your solar system will continue delivering clean, renewable power reliably and efficiently all year round. Just a little routine upkeep goes a long way.

 

 

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