5 solar maintenance mistakes you can’t afford to make

By Lisa Rimmert on August 31, 2020

You made the decision to go solar. That’s awesome!

Now you can sit back, relax, and watch the sun pay your bills forever, right?

Well, not quite. Solar systems are pretty low maintenance, but they last longest and work best when they’re well maintained.

These five maintenance mistakes could shorten the life of your solar system, lower your production, and reduce the benefits you’re getting from your investment.

1. Not monitoring your energy production

If your energy production is too low, it could mean your system isn’t working properly. You want to be aware of that!

Energy production varies based on factors like the weather, but be sure to check for drastic or sudden dips in production. You can see the reading, in kilowatt-hours (kWh), on your system’s web-based monitoring portal. If you have an app, you can look there as well.

2. Using soap or chemicals on your panels

Washing your solar panels with soap or chemicals can leave a film or cause the surface to degrade, which can negatively impact their production. Don’t risk it!

In fact, in most cases you don’t need to wash your solar panels at all. Rain and snow naturally clean them. In areas with less rain and lots of dust or pollutants in the air, occasional cleaning may improve performance, but you should never use chemicals or soap of any kind. Water and a brush or squeegee are all you need.

3. Clearing snow off your panels

We don’t recommend clearing snow off your rooftop solar panels. It’s not necessary, so there’s no sense risking a fall. Panels are dark and slick, so snow will melt or slide off pretty quickly with a little sunshine. Once the panels are clear (even partially), your array will start generating electricity again.

4. Losing your installer contract

If you don’t keep track of your contract, you’ll end up on a wild goose chase trying to figure out who to call for maintenance and other services. The contract you signed with your solar installer can include instructions for requesting maintenance services, pricing for routine inspections, and a description of how your monitoring system will alert you to production problems. Be sure to keep it filed someplace you can easily find it.

5. Not getting checkups

Solar is low maintenance, but we recommend getting a check-up every three to five years. This will make sure things remain in good working order.

Your installer or any qualified solar professional can conduct these inspections. They’ll take a look at all your equipment and make sure your system is performing properly. A solar professional can spot hard-to-notice issues like wire damage from squirrels and other critters.