Are you planning to install solar panels to reduce your electricity bill and wonder what kind of maintenance does solar system require, then this article is for you.
In this article we will see how to do maintenance of solar panels, how much does it cost for solar panels maintenance and everything else associated with solar panels maintenance.
All the solar panel available in the market today offers 10 years of manufacturing warranty and 25 years of performance warranty. Hence you will not have to replace your solar panels in 25 years.
When it comes to solar power plant maintenance you might have to replace your solar inverter at least once in 25 years and paint the metal structure if there is any rusting. Other than that you will have to clean your solar panels at least every three months to get the expected power generation.
Every solar plant needs two types of maintenance. One is replacement of the components that are not working or are under performing and another is cleaning of solar panels.
We will first look into the list of components that you might have to replace after a certain time as this is a big maintenance cost when and then we will talk about cleaning of solar panels.
Warranty structure of the Components (solar panels maintenance):
A grid tied or on grid solar system has mainly following components solar panels, solar inverter, mounting structure, AC cables, DC cables, AC & DC distribution box, monitoring system, lightening arrestor and earthing. If you plan to install an off grid solar system there will be batteries as well.
Lets look into the warranty structure of each components.
Solar panels which cost up to 70% of total project cost has 25 years of performance warranty, meaning if the generation of solar panel goes below 80% of today’s value in 25 years then the solar panel will be replaced by the OEM (Original Equipment Manufacturer).
Solar panel also has 10 years of manufacturing warranty which makes sure if there are any defect in solar cells or if the frame is damaged then it will replaced by OEM.
You can check Canadian Solar Panels warranty over here – Canadian Solar Panels (official website)
Solar inverter has 5 years warranty and should work without maintenance for 10-15 years. So you might have to change your solar inverter once in 10 years.
(Tip: If you want to doubly sure ask you Installer to get 5+5 warranty for solar inverter, it will cost you a bit more for extra warranty but you are sorted for 10 years.)
The AC & DC cables have 15 years warranty and easily last for 25 years so no need to worry about cables.(when was the last time you replaced your house wiring, never right.)
The other big component is mounting structure. Mounting structure will rust with time hence you will need to get it repainted and also replace some nuts and bolts so that your solar panels does not fly away in monsoon.
(Tip: Go with hot dip galvanized iron with at least 80 micron coating or opt for aluminium structure both are good and needs less maintenance.)
If you have installed an off grid solar system then you will have batteries which you will need to replace in every 3-4 years, Hence this will be a big maintenance cost but if you have installed solar on grid system then don’t worry about this since it has no batteries.
You AC & DC distribution boxes, LA, earthing, monitoring system all will work for 25 years without any maintenance just make sure they are clean.
Apart from this there are no component that has to be either repaired or replaced in 25 years.
Solar Components That Needs Maintenance (solar panels maintenance):
From our above observation we can deduct that in the next 25 years of operation of our solar plant we will have to replace our solar inverter (Once), batteries (every 3-4 years if you have an off grid system), and get the structure painted to avoid rusting. Other than these there are no other components that needs to be replaced or needs maintenanace.
If you have a on grid / net metering solar system, then the only major cost that you will have to bear will be replacing the solar inverter. This will also come after 10 years of operation.
To give you a rough idea the cost of replacing your solar inverter might be somewhere around 10% of your project cost.
Now that we are done with the most expensive part of maintenance of solar plant, lets look into the part that has to be done frequently and is inexpensive, the cleaning of solar panels.
Cleaning of Solar Panels (solar panels maintenance):
The frequency of cleaning of solar panels totally depends on the deposition of dust on the solar panels.
If your area has lot of dust, smoke, smog then you might have to clean your solar panels once in a month, but if your live in an area where air is clean then cleaning your solar panels quarterly will also be just fine.
If there is a sudden drop in power generation then chances are a layer of dust has accumulated on top of your solar panels which is not allowing sunlight to hit the solar cell, hence less power generation. This is an indication that you will have to clean your solar panels.
To clean the solar panels you should use regular water with a piece of soft cloth or smooth sponge. If some areas are not accessible then use a soft brush with long handle to reach those areas for cleaning.
Ideal time for cleaning is early in the morning when there is already dew on the panels or in the evening since solar panels are at normal temperature.
I have written a detailed article on how to clean your solar panels, what are the best practices to follow and when should you clean your solar panels.
Check it out – Ultimate Guide For Cleaning Solar Panels
If you are in two minds about maintenance of solar power generation system (which I think you shouldn’t be, as the cost is very small when compared with the savings you can get) then you can go with passive solar system, as it has almost no maintenance, check out this article to know the difference between active and passive solar system.
To conclude this article I would say that a solar plant has a life of 25-30 years and during this period you will have to replace your solar inverter (once) and get your mounting structure repainted if it starts rusting. Apart from this you don’t have to replace any components.
The second part of maintenance is cleaning of solar panels, this will be a regular affair and you might have to do this weekly, monthly, quarterly, it totally depends on the amount of dust, smoke, smog in your locality.
In all I think you should install solar system as the maintenance part is very negligible in comparison with the savings and the environmental impact you are having.
If you need any more clarification on maintenance of solar panels or if you have any valuable suggestions then please share in the comments section, your advice can be helpful to millions reading this blog.
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Go Green Go Solar !!