Solar panels are renowned for being fuss-free. Their design is essentially one solid panel with no moving parts, so the chances of something breaking isn’t very high. In fact, beyond the odd clean once or twice a year, you can pretty much leave them to it.
The efficiency of solar panels largely depends on whether they’ve been installed correctly, which is why it’s so crucial the installation is carried out by a MCS-certified installer. The installer must also be MCS-certified if you’re looking to receive payment from the Feed-in Tariff.
Cleaning is one of the easiest yet most effective ways to keep your solar panels working efficiently. Debris, bird droppings, leaves, shadows cast from trees – practically anything that blocks the face of the solar panel reduces efficiency.
Again, much of this comes back to the installation. If they’re sited well away from any overhead trees and high off the ground (i.e. far from any source of dirt and dust), they’ll require less maintenance. Also if your solar panels are set to the correct tilt (somewhere between 30 and 50o), most of the dirt and debris should wash off in the rain, but it’s still worth inspecting a couple of times a year for bird droppings and leaves.
If you live in a particularly dusty area maintenance checks should be carried out more regularly, so it’s better to ask your installer how often they need looking over. When they are in need of cleaning, specialist PV cleaners or even a good window cleaner could save you the hassle of scrambling over your roof.
Micro-inverters are another way to increase the efficiency of your solar array. A regular string inverter takes electricity from the installation as a whole, whereas micro inverters are connected to each solar panel separately. This means that if there’s an issue with one of the solar panels, the whole array won’t suffer as a result. It’s estimated that micro-inverters can improve the overall efficiency by 20%, so it’s definitely worth looking into.
Beyond that, there are other measures you can take to ensure you’re getting the most out of your solar panels, such as timing your electric appliances to around midday when your solar array is at peak generation. You can find out about using more of your solar power here.