Are you a solar owner with a quick question about solar panel maintenance? Are you considering installing solar panels on your home and wondering what kind of maintenance is involved? This guide is for you!
When you go solar with Brooklyn SolarWorks, our team will be there to answer any questions you may have and provide personalized guidance in taking care of your system. Continue reading to learn about the components of a solar system and why solar panel maintenance is a breeze.
Do residential solar panels need to be maintained?
If you’re considering solar, you may be wondering what kind of maintenance you’ll need to think about in the future. Good news! Maintaining a solar PV system requires very little effort.
Because there are no moving parts to a solar energy system, there’s not much that you actively need to keep an eye on. Cleaning your solar panels is not required either, because they’re angled in such a way that Mother Nature can typically take care of any build up of dirt or debris.
The most common issues we come across have to do with the system’s WiFi connection, which can happen if you change your network settings and is a simple fix.
All in all, solar is a very low maintenance energy source for your home. But rest assured: if any issues or questions arise, we’ve got you covered. Get in touch with us to get started with solar.
Can I tell when my solar system needs maintenance?
Every solar system has an inverter, which we consider the “brains” of the operation. It has two important jobs: one, it converts the DC electricity generated by your solar panels into AC electricity used by your home and the utility grid. Two, it monitors the health of your solar array and stores performance data.
When it comes to solar panel maintenance, the inverter is key. It’ll be connected to your home’s WiFi, which enables the transmission of production data to our monitoring team and alerts us if anything is wrong.
The inverter is typically mounted in your basement near the main electrical service. It can also be placed on your roof attached to the solar array. It has LEDs and a display in the bottom right corner which provide a snapshot of its operating status.
While in normal operation, the display shows the current power output and total lifetime energy production of the inverter.
The green light indicates the current power production status of your solar panel system. It pulses slowly or quickly depending on how much energy it’s creating.
The center red light is the error light and only illuminates if there’s a problem. The display will also show an error code and time stamp when the error occurred. All errors are automatically reported to our team within 24 hours.
The blue light is the communication light. If your inverter is connected to a WiFi network or hardwired with an ethernet cable, it will be solid blue. If it loses connection, the light will turn off.
How to Turn Off and Reboot Your Solar System
Over the lifetime of your system, you may come across times when you’ll need to turn off or reboot your system, like if you have an electrician working in your home for example.
How do I turn my system off?
In the rare case that you need to turn your solar system off altogether, follow these steps:
Turn off the DC disconnect. This is a black dial on the left side of your inverter (below).
Turn off the AC disconnect. (Pictured below.) This will be either a circuit breaker in your main electrical panel, or a switch located outside your electric panel – it’ll be labeled as such.
After turning off the inverter, allow at least one minute for the inverter to fully discharge before rebooting. If an electrician has turned your system off, please make sure they remember to reactivate your system before leaving.
How do I reboot my system?
To reboot your solar system, turn both the DC and AC switches back on. Either order is fine, but turning on the AC connection first will allow the inverter to resume operation more quickly. The inverter will take up to 5 minutes to fully reboot and reconnect to WiFi/cell networks. It may take another 5 minutes to begin making power.
How can I monitor the health of my solar panels?
After your inverter is connected to your WiFi network, we’ll register it in an online monitoring platform called Sunny Portal. Sunny Portal allows you to track the performance of your solar array.
Check Your Inverter Data
Checking data collected by Sunny Portal is a great way to monitor the health and performance of your solar system.
Information provided by Sunny Portal includes but is not limited to:
Real-time output of your solar system
Total energy output
Approximate CO2 emissions avoided for the current day and lifetime of the system
Basic information on system equipment
Additionally, our team actively monitors the performance of our entire fleet of solar systems against guaranteed output levels and receives automatic notifications should any errors occur.
How do I maintain my solar panels?
Your solar panels are very low maintenance. They have no moving parts or electronics, and are therefore long-lasting, requiring no regular inspection or maintenance.
Solar panel cleaning is not required. Your solar array is angled to allow rain water to run off naturally, taking with it any dust, pollen, or other debris. If you do choose to clean your panels, however, avoid harsh detergents and metal or hard plastic brushes that could scratch the glass.
You don’t need to worry about removing snow either, as the power lost during snowstorms is extremely small. Snow will drift or melt off your panels naturally. Not to mention, it can be dangerous climbing up to a snowy, icy rooftop.
Suffice to say, solar panel maintenance is a piece of cake!
How does NYC’s extreme weather impact my solar panels?
One of the most common solar myths out there is that solar panels won’t fare well in bad weather. In any given year in New York City, we can expect a range of weather conditions, from heatwaves, to hurricanes, to blizzards.
When it comes to solar, we prepare for this. The solar panel providers we use, typically LG or REC, thoroughly test their panels against a broad range of extreme weather before going to market. LG and REC are industry leaders, manufacturing solar panels that are built to last.
Brooklyn SolarWorks’s systems have also undergone extensive testing: our canopy system can hold around 48,000 pounds. This means it can withstand a blizzard’s worth of snow and over 120 mph winds — exceeding the city’s wind requirements. (For reference, when Hurricane Sandy made landfall in New Jersey, the highest recorded wind speed was 80 mph.)
Systems we installed back in 2016 are still up and running, despite being exposed to multiple hurricanes and snowstorms over the years. When you go solar, it’s important to choose an installer that uses high-quality solar panels and sound installation methods to ensure stability overtime.
Is there a standard warranty for solar panels?
Solar panel warranties can vary depending on the manufacturer, but most provide a standard warranty of 10 to 20 years. Typically, there are two components to a solar panel warranty: product and performance. The product warranty covers the equipment itself, while the performance warranty guarantees a certain power output over a set period of time. The specifics of each component vary depending on the provider.
REC, one of our trusted solar panel providers, offers a 20-25 year product warranty as well as a guarantee that their panels will perform at a minimum 92% efficiency after 25 years.
Additionally, a good solar installer should provide their own warranties. When you go solar with Brooklyn SolarWorks, you’ll be covered by a 30 year umbrella warranty, covering all aspects of the installation:
25 year panel warranty
10 year workmanship warranty for all materials and services performed
30 year inverter warranty
We also offer our customers 24/7 real-time system monitoring, as well as a Power Production Guarantee. We guarantee that your system will perform as projected during its first 10 years; if not, we’ll provide cash compensation for the loss in savings.
If your panels were installed properly, it’s unlikely that you’ll have to worry about repair or replacement. But things can happen – this is why it’s important to choose a trusted installer that provides warranties for their equipment and service.
In the rare case that your solar panels need to be replaced or repaired, it’s best to get in touch with the company that installed them because they’ll be able to determine the best course of action for your system and your roof. If your system was installed by us, we’ll get a crew out to assess the issue and make repairs as soon as we can.
Overall, Solar Requires Very Little Maintenance
When you invest in solar energy, you’re investing in a low maintenance, long-lasting energy source that’s actively reducing your carbon footprint. Overall, solar panel maintenance is a total breeze. But in the case that any issues arise, it’s important to know the basics of how your system operates and how to handle it.
If questions about solar panel maintenance are top of mind for you, it’s best to work with a trusted installer who uses high quality panels and installation methods. If you’re a homeowner in New York City, we’d love to help you switch to clean energy. Schedule a free consultation today!
In 2015, Brooklyn SolarWorks landed in Gowanus with a mission to bring affordable flat roof solar to local homeowners. We’ve overcome barriers to develop industry-leading approaches to permitting, design, and…