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Solar panel maintenance: do you need it — and how much does it cost?

There is a lot of talk in the residential solar industry, about a so-called “solar panel maintenance burden.” Let’s set the record straight. There is no such thing.

Prospective solar customers are often concerned that there is a huge maintenance requirement that comes with owning a solar energy system. Generally speaking, residential solar requires very little to zero attention. Here is why.

The efficiency and durability of solar panels have come a long way since the early 2000s.

Today, solar panels are a lot tougher than they look and are designed to withstand rain, snow, sleet, hail, and high winds. Regions with heavy snow require clearing and regions with high dust winds require cleaning, but the burden is still insignificant.

Room temperature water is an effective way of clearing heavy snow from solar panels safely. Never use hot water, as the drastic temperature differential can crack the panels. Light snow is hardly ever a problem. As long as a homeowner’s solar panels are tilted (which a majority are), snow and other debris will naturally runoff.

Rain also helps to keep solar panels clean and operating at peak efficiency.

It’s recommended that homeowners manually clean their solar panels 2-4 times per year (in warmer and dryer geographic regions) to ensure the system produces the maximum amount of electricity (and therefore savings). But for areas like Canada with very little to no dusty winds, cleaning solar panels is almost never a requirement.

In most cases, especially for residential installations, the day to day maintenance of solar panels is virtually non-existent.

While there is no maintenance requirement, homeowners should always remain vigilant for any signs of problems. To automate this, there is the solar monitoring system that can help with this task. If a panel is clear of debris and is registering a relatively low efficiency (>85%), professional contractors should be called.

Replacing malfunctioning solar panels with no warranty can be costly, that’s why at Solar X, we only use solar panels that come with around 20 years of warranties. Homeowners are often advised to ask for proof of warranty from installers.

Solar panels are reliably durable against climatic factors, but birds and rodents still pose a threat to the equipment, particularly any exposed wires. These pests can cause some damage, which is why it’s best to address the danger proactively with the use of a critter guard.

The Critter Guard fence system forms an enclosure around the array that protects your solar system against damage from rodents. (Energysage)

For the most part, critter guards are made of mesh netting that discretely fits around the solar modules’ exposed vulnerabilities. Our solar contractors will install critter guards alongside your panels for free, so it’s best to take advantage of their expertise.

Residential solar energy offers homeowners an affordable, clean, and convenient solution to rising electrical bills. The time to go solar has never been better, thanks to technological improvements that have increased panel efficiency, decreased costs, and strengthened durability. Despite what public perception may be, solar energy is a low maintenance, versatile energy source capable of viability in diverse climates.

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