A question we get asked a lot is, Do Solar PV Panels require maintenance?
The answer is yes. In summary, we recommend that the system is: Monitored, Electrically condition tested, Mechanically checked, Visually checked and cleaned at certain intervals depending on the type of system.
It is important that a system is periodically maintained. Periodically meaning on occurring intervals such as daily, weekly, monthly, quarterly, yearly, bi-yearly or every 5 years.
It will depend on the system and level of service as to when certain tasks are due. It’s up to the property owner to decide this with there chosen solar panel maintenance provider. In all cases, a solar PV system should never be left for more than 5 years unmaintained.
The types of services generally available when running Operation and Maintenance of a solar PV system.
Please note: It is up to the property owner to choose the level of service they require and to specify to their chosen solar panel maintenance company what options from the lists below they would like to have completed. Energy Creation recommends that all Solar panel systems are periodically maintained.
Monitoring & Reports
Have your solar panels remotely monitored periodically. Periodic reports can be sent to a nominated person within your organisation. Including information
and data from our findings to track solar panel yield and output together with metadata to
ensure that your solar photovoltaic plant is performing correctly.
Periodic Electrical Condition Reports
Every Electrical Installation deteriorates within time. It’s important that every electrical installation is periodically inspected and tested by a competent person. It is recommended in
BS:7671 (British standards for electrical installations) that every electrical installation is periodically tested and inspected.
As part of solar photovoltaic maintenance, you should have a competent person inspect the AC and DC solar installation annually presenting the nominated person with a solar panel electrical inspection certificate. This will not only check the safety of the installation but also help prevent any unscheduled downtime and equipment deficiency. The arrays earthing arrangement (if applicable) will be visually and mechanically checked and tested within this annual inspection.
Periodic Mechanical Maintenance
It is wise to have a solar panel maintenance company maintain and assess the mechanical fixings and mounting components of the solar photovoltaic array. This can include:
Periodic Visual Cable Checks
Cable runs particularly outdoor runs can be checked to ensure there are no stresses, weaknesses, wear, insulation breakdown, damage caused by vermin or sunlight.
This ensures there is no safety issues as well as yield losses.
Solar Panel & Inverter Infra-red inspection
Solar panels can be inspected both visually and with an infra-red thermal imaging camera to check for hot spots, cracks, defects, rust, blemishes or breakages in the glass, hot cells and corrosion on frames. Similar checks could be completed on the inverters too.
Periodic Electrical Maintenance
Electrical connections should be periodically inspected for tightness, corrosion and to ensure there are no scorch, electrical burning marks or smells.
Electrical containment can be visually checked and tightened. Electrical Overcurrent protection devices can be checked for tightness, operations and test buttons operated.
O & M tasks such as electrical condition reports, visual cable checks, mechanical maintenance, infra-red panel inspections, electrical maintenance, panel cleaning, inverter display checks and monthly reports and logging all help reveal problems or potential issues. If issues are found corrections will be made to further prevent maintenance.
If a fault is determined via the remote monitoring or via a report from site your chosen solar panel maintenance company will
respond within a certain timeframe under the O & M agreement. If possible
every effort to fix the issue will be made on their first visit however if it is determined to be an equipment
breakdown parts may have to be ordered and replaced as soon as possible.
Periodic Solar Panel Cleaning
Cleaning the surface of the solar photovoltaic modules will most likely increase/maintain output.
Accumulated dirt on the surface on the modules could reduce the output of the solar photovoltaic array in a similar way as shading would. Not periodically cleaning your panels could reduce the performance of up to 5%.
Periodic Inverter Display Check
It is important that inverters are free from dust, operating at normal
temperature and have no errors displayed on the inverter log.
Monitoring the inverter periodically using remote monitoring. If it is found that the inverter is not performing correctly, corrective maintenance should be exercised.
It is important that a maintenance schedule is worked out with your chosen solar panel installer/maintenance company. It is up to the property owner to arrange maintenance, failure to do so could result in extra corrective maintenance and invalidate warranties.
To repeat, Periodically means on occurring intervals such as daily, weekly, monthly, quarterly, yearly, bi-yearly or every 5 years.
A schedule should be set out and agreed in writing between both the solar panel maintenance company and property owner. This will agree when the periodic period should be for the items listed above.