If you own a solar panel system, it’s essential to understand how to maintain it properly. Then, it will keep running at its best and save you money on costly repairs.
The frequency at which your solar panels need to be maintained will depend on your area and weather conditions. For example, salt crust buildup may accumulate more quickly than in a dry area if you live near the beach.
Keeping solar panels in New Jersey clean is crucial to maintaining their performance. The amount of dirt and grime gathered on them can be significant and cause energy production to drop. Therefore, monitoring your monthly electricity bill or monitoring app is essential to see if it’s time to give them a good scrub.
Cleaning should be done a minimum of once a year to maximize energy production. However, if you live in desert regions or have a lot of bird droppings or other debris on your roof, it may be necessary to clean them more frequently.
The best way to clean your solar panels is to use soap and water from a garden hose. It is important to rinse them thoroughly after each cleaning. If you do not, streaks will appear, and residues will remain.
In addition to soap and water, a good scrubber or squeegee will also help remove a buildup of dust, dirt, and debris. Choose a soft scrubber or squeegee, and avoid scratching the panels.
Many professional solar panel cleaners use deionized water, specially treated, to strip out minerals and leave your panels free from any chemical residues. It is a safe and effective method that is often more effective than rainwater, which can leave behind additional pollutants and impede power generation.
Checking the Inverter
Inverters are critical to the functioning of a solar photovoltaic system. They convert the direct current output from the solar panels into alternating current.
It is essential to check the inverter for signs of malfunction or impending failures. It allows you to catch problems before they become too severe.
If your inverter isn’t working correctly, you may want to contact your solar installer to conduct an inspection. It will help you determine whether the problem is with the inverter itself or the battery.
Once your solar technician has checked the inverter, they will likely recommend that you get it repaired. It is because a malfunction in the inverter will affect its operation and lead to reduced production, which can result in higher energy bills for you.
One of the most important checks is ensuring that a short circuit hasn’t blown the DC bus fuse in the inverter. The DC bus fuse is usually located in the front of the inverter, behind the main cover.
You cannot power the inverter from its input when the fuse is blown. The inverter will display an Undervoltage fault, which means it doesn’t have enough DC bus voltage. It will require that you replace the fuse.
Checking the Batteries
One of the most important aspects of solar panel maintenance is checking your batteries. If your batteries are not working, they may not be able to provide the power you need to run your home.
Batteries are a crucial component of any solar system and come in all shapes and sizes. The type of battery you use will impact its performance and lifespan.
For instance, flooded lead acid batteries have an easy-to-maintain lifespan and do not emit hydrogen gas when used. However, they have a much shorter life span than lithium iron phosphate (LFP) batteries.
Another essential factor to consider is the battery’s power rating. It is expressed in kilowatts and can tell you how many devices the battery can power at once.
The battery’s voltage will vary, but it should be within a range of 12 to 24 V. You can use a digital multimeter to check the battery’s voltage.
The battery will only charge properly if the voltage is raised. The battery is not getting enough sunlight, or the wires are not connected correctly.
To check the battery’s state of charge, you must remove it from your solar panel and disconnect the positive and negative leads from the battery. The battery will not charge properly if the voltage is too low. This voltage should be very close to the solar panel’s voltage.
Checking the Connections
Solar panels need to be appropriately connected to operate safely and efficiently. It includes wiring methods, circuit protection, and grounding.
For this reason, it’s essential to conduct regular inspections to ensure everything is working as it should. The first step is to check the connections between each panel and the junction box, or jbox, as it’s often called.
The junction box is where the wires from each panel hook up to diodes that keep the power flowing in one direction. If the junction box is not in good condition, it can lead to power losses.
Another essential connection point is between the solar panels and the breaker panel. It can lead to short circuits or overcurrent damage if the breakers are not installed correctly.
To avoid this, it’s essential to inspect the breakers before completing the installation. You can do this with a multimeter, which will also let you know whether there are any other problems.
In most cases, solar panels are wired in series. It means that the positive lead on one panel is connected to the negative information on an adjacent panel. It is usually done with MC4 connectors, which are easy to use and work well for most installations.