How should I maintain my solar panels?
If like many Australians you've decided to generate your own electricity by installing solar panels, you might be asking yourself how you should go about maintaining them.
After all, solar PV systems can be particularly costly even with the amount of grants and rebates on offer, so it's essential to ensure they stand the test of time.
One of the main advantages of solar panels is they don't require much maintenance, but there are some steps you can take to keep them running in top condition.
Here are some ideas that should help you enjoy renewable electricity supplies for many years to come.
As with many other parts of your property, your solar panels will need a thorough clean once in a while to make sure they're functioning properly.
Dust and other dirt build-up can prevent certain components from working as well as they should, so make sure you factor your panels into your cleaning regime.
There are various ways to keep your solar PV system free of dust. Either rinse it off using a garden hose, or invest in a long-handled sponge and do it by hand.
Alternatively, see if there's anyone in your local area who will do the job for you - with solar panel popularity on the rise, it wouldn't be surprising if someone was offering this service!
Remember that any excessive build-up of dirt will prevent your panels from trapping the sunlight and working properly, so it's in your best interests to keep them clean.
If you live in a part of the country with high levels of rainfall then you might find the water does the job for you, but it's always best to check just how dirty the panels are.
Check your inverter
A properly functioning inverter is essential for your supply of electricity, so it's well worth ensuring it works on a regular basis.
If you have any concerns then make sure you enlist the help of an electrical engineer, who will be able to offer a more thorough assessment.
Unless you have electrician qualifications it's best to leave the job to the experts, otherwise you could end up causing yourself an injury or damage to your property.
Inverters can be replaced if necessary, so your entire solar power system won't be rendered completely useless!
You should treat it in the same way you would any other electrical equipment in your home. Regular testing will make sure it stays working properly for years to come.
Know how to prepare for severe weather
Although Australia is blessed with plenty of good weather, there are times when it can take a turn for the worse and leave your solar PV system vulnerable.
It's crucial that you remember to switch off the AC mains and PV array isolators on your system, as this will protect it against a power surge.
Should there be a risk of rising water, you might also want to consider turning off the roof top array isolator - if there is one - until the storm passes.
Electricity and water don't mix and you could find your solar power system can't function properly as a result - and you also run the risk of causing yourself serious injury, or worse.
If you're worried your electrical systems might have been affected then make sure you don't switch them back on again until they've been checked over by a licensed electrical contractor.
They will also be able to advise you on what needs to be done to get your system back up and running in the safest way possible.
Posted by Richard West