Solar Panel Maintenance: 7 Ways to Keep Solar Panels Running Efficiently

Deane Biermeier
Written by Deane Biermeier
Updated March 17, 2023
woman checking on her solar panels
Photo: LOUISE BEAUMONT / Moment / Getty Images

Maintaining solar panels is simple but important

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Although your home’s solar energy system contains few, if any, moving parts, proper solar panel maintenance is crucial to keep the power flowing. Basic solar panel care is straightforward and inexpensive, and in many cases, DIY-friendly. Follow these seven tips and tricks to keep your solar array in peak operating condition.

1. Create a Solar Panel Maintenance Schedule

The first step in keeping your solar energy system performing its best is to make a solar panel maintenance schedule. The schedule can be as simple as a list of tasks, or you may choose to incorporate the items into your scheduling calendar. However you decide to do it, be sure to include completion dates for each task and record any changes in the system or its energy production. 

Not only does installing solar panels increase your home’s value and appeal, but maintaining the system and keeping detailed records can affect the amount of those increases. 

Solar panel maintenance checklist, including rinsing solar panels to clear debris Number of Infographics: 1/1

2. Keep Solar Production Records

Often included in the cost of your solar panel system is a power generation meter that allows you to keep an eye on energy production. The information is sometimes shared with the installation company as well. 

Make it a habit to check the meter, record the number of kilowatt-hours your system produces, and note any dips in production. It could be a sign of system trouble if you notice multiple day-long periods of slow energy production. Also, check the indicator lights on your inverter to ensure the power is flowing as it should.  

3. Inspect Solar Panels Often

Once a month, perform a visual inspection of your solar panels and the system components. Look for debris on the panels, such as dirt, tree branches, and leaves. Remove them if possible without endangering yourself by going onto the roof. Also, check for damage or inconsistencies in the indoor and outdoor system parts.

At least once per year, hire a solar panel inspector or your local solar installation company to perform a thorough annual professional inspection. A professional can check for unseen damages and ensure that your system is operating at its full potential. They’ll also check for loose fasteners and wiring issues to ensure your home’s safety.  

4. Keep Solar Panels Clean

Depending on the weather conditions where you live, you’ll want to clean your solar panels or hire a professional to perform the task two to four times per year. Clean them after season changes, storms if necessary, or more often in dusty, windy locations. Deep cleaning roof-mounted solar panels is typically a job for professionals only. 

Clean your solar panels using a leaf blower to remove large debris, such as leaves and branches. Check the manufacturer's instructions for cleaning directions which likely include wiping each panel with a mild dish soap and water mix, using a non-abrasive cloth or brush to release dirt, followed by rinsing with tepid garden hose water. 

5. Avoid Harsh Cleansers and Abrasives 

Although solar panels are up to the challenge of dealing with outdoor conditions, damage and scratches from abrasive cleaning compounds or stiff brushes can diminish their productivity. Using harsh cleansers may also void performance and durability warranties. 

If you encounter dirt or stains on your solar panels that you aren’t able to remove with mild soap and non-abrasive cloth, ask your solar installer or manufacturer for the next steps or hire them to deal with the problem. 

6. Keep Trees Trimmed

 solar energy panels near trees
Photo: Mint Images / Getty Images

Shady trees are excellent for enjoying your backyard. However, they’re not great for solar panel energy production. You typically don’t have to cut down all nearby trees. However, keep an eye on where new growth casts its shadow. Solar panels are far less productive in the shade than in full sunshine. 

If it’s safe to do so, trim small branches away from your solar panels before they become large ones. Take care not to allow the branches to fall onto the panels to avoid damage and scratches. Hiring a nearby tree trimming service is never a bad idea for this kind of work and will keep both you and your trees safe and healthy.  

7. Repair Solar Components as Necessary

When solar energy generation components fail, they often affect the entire system's performance. During a failure, a dangerous electrical current may remain in the system. For that reason, calling your local solar repair company immediately to handle the situation is crucial for your safety and to get your system up and running as it should.  

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