It comes as no surprise that homeowners want to take advantage of all the benefits solar panels can provide them, but like any appliance, there needs to be solar panel maintenance. Just like your plumbing, wiring, or insulation, making sure your solar panels live up and beyond their 25-30 year warranty, means keeping a keen eye for the warning signs. Because solar panels sit outside, whether that’s on top your roof, on the ground, or attached to a pole, they’re exposed to all kinds of extreme weather and falling debris. Cracked solar panels, for example, are at risk of having a water leak in and destroying the solar cells. Most homeowners can spend anywhere between $150 and $900 to repair the damages. It’s important to keep up with maintenance as to avoid paying up to $2,000 to fix any broken glass, cracks, faulty wiring, or even as far as replacing your roof and solar panels.
What about Defects?
Unfortunately, it can happen. Either the solar provider didn’t install the solar panels properly, or inferior materials were used for your solar panel system. If you notice your solar panels aren’t functioning properly, like a fluctuation in power or overall decrease in electricity generated, there might be a defect. Here’s what to look for.
- Foreign particles inside your solar panels. Anything that’s directly blocking sunlight from the solar cells means a decrease in electricity generated. If you notice your solar panels are looking a little dirty, call a solar installer.
- Scratches on the glass. Sometimes during transportation or manufacturing, the glass for the panels can get scratched. This can affect how much electricity is generated, especially if the cuts are large and deep.
- Broken solar cells. The solar cells are what convert sunlight into electricity. Chips or breakages in the cells can occur during manufacturing or transportation.
- Fading labels and barcodes. The barcode, usually located behind the glass or the back of the panel, should always be visible in case you need to report any defect or damages, especially if you’re making a warranty claim.
What Else Should You Know About Solar Panel Maintenance?
It wouldn’t hurt to know all the parts involved and how they work. Solar panels have solar cells, which are made with a thin film of semi-conductor materials or silicon. Solar cells, as previously mentioned, are what directly convert sunlight into electricity. Solar cells are protected by a panel, made of glass. Your solar panels are connected together to form arrays, which are either aligned on top your roof, on the ground or attached to a pole. Your panels are held by mounting racks, and inverters convert the DC power generated into AC power, while any excess electricity can be stored in a battery. Simple, right? There’s not much to it, and depending on how you go about financing your solar panels, the solar installers can do all the solar panel maintenance, monitoring, and repairing for you. But there still are those warning signs to look out for.
The Warning Signs of a Damaged Solar Panel
It doesn’t matter where you install your solar panels, they’re susceptible to damage. It’s important to consider what might be a future risk to your solar panels such as an old roof or low hanging trees. If you notice anything, it’s important to contact your solar provider to prevent further damage. Make sure you look out for the following.
- Broken glass. Because they’re covered with glass, it’s likely to happen at least once that a panel somewhere will break. Whether it’s from extreme temperatures, falling rocks or trees, a rogue baseball, or curious animal, you don’t want the solar cells inside exposed.
- Cracks in the panel. Depending on the size of the crack and how quickly you notice it, the entire panel can be saved and the crack sealed versus being entirely replaced.
- Loose solder connections. A common problem with solar panels is a solder connection (the wiring connecting the solar cells) getting loose. A professional may have to come in and un-solder and re-solder those connections.
- A damaged roof. If your roof needs repairing, you’ll need to contact a certified solar thermal technician to remove and replace your panels.
- A broken solar inverter. Another common problem with solar panels is the inverter (what converts direct DC power into AC power) breaking. With a warranty of 15-20 years, at least 15 years less than the lifetime of the solar panel itself, there’s a good chance you’ll have to fix the inverter at some point.
Are Your Solar Panels Damaged?
If so, you need to contact a professional to inspect your panels. A licensed solar thermal technician will know what to look for and can provide the best options for repair. Acting fast will save you money and prevent further damage.
Don’t hesitate if you notice something wrong, contact Air Tech HVAC Inc. for solar panel maintenance and installation services!