In summer, the solar technology in the house, be it photovoltaics or the solar thermal system for heating, should deliver the best yields. However, if the solar modules do not bring the desired results in this optimal climate, an inspection and maintenance of the solar system is more than overdue. There may be damage to the collectors or dirt that calls for thorough cleaning.
Without regular cleaning and maintenance of the photovoltaic or solar thermal systems, a lot of green energy – and therefore cheaper electricity – is wasted. Solar technology loses efficiency over the years without good service. In our guide you will find out when you have to service a solar system, what needs to be done when cleaning or maintaining a PV system, to what extent you can clean a PV system yourself and which work you would rather leave to customer service or a specialist company.
Why maintenance of the photovoltaic system is necessary
It is difficult to understand how much more electricity or energy can be generated if a solar system receives regular maintenance. However, experts assume that the yields can be increased by a double-digit percentage. In addition, regular maintenance of the solar system also improves the service life of the solar technology by several years and is therefore an important prerequisite for the purchase of a solar system being economically viable in the long term.
Solar generators are generally considered to be low-maintenance – but why does it still make sense to carry out regular cleaning or PV maintenance after the collectors have been installed?
One of the possible reasons for a drop in performance of the solar system is soiling of the photovoltaic system. Accumulated dirt from precipitation, leaves, moss or bird and rodent droppings can significantly reduce the efficiency of the solar modules. Dirt particles in the air, such as B. from chimneys or cars, settle on the collectors. Without maintenance of the photovoltaic collectors, moss or lichen can also settle.
In addition to cleaning this dirt, wear and tear or components of the solar technology must also be checked for their functionality as part of maintenance. In the case of solar thermal, this is z. B. the solar fluid or the pump. Fastenings and cable connections can also be problem areas in a solar system, e.g. B. have been damaged by bite damage or no longer fit properly over time.
Checking all these factors makes regular inspection and maintenance of the solar system necessary in order to guarantee the highest possible yield from the solar modules in the long term.
By the way: You can also take out photovoltaic insurance to protect yourself against certain types of damage to the solar system!
PV maintenance: When and how often is it advisable to clean the collectors?
Solar modules should be as clean as possible in order to effectively convert the sun’s energy into electricity and heat. However, many owners of a solar system are probably wondering how thoroughly you have to be when cleaning the collectors. If you want a professional or the installer’s after-sales service to do the cleaning, when to service your solar system is a financial decision.
What would be the costs of maintaining the solar system? What are the energy and electricity losses if you don’t have the solar system serviced? By answering these questions and after consulting the relevant specialist companies, you will know better whether maintenance, including cleaning, makes economic sense for your PV system. Basically, as the owner of a solar thermal or photovoltaic system, you should make it a habit to check the collectors for heavy soiling by means of regular visual inspections. A sensible time for cleaning the solar system is approaching or has already arrived when:
- The yields of the solar system have decreased significantly compared to values in the previous year
- The time of the last PV maintenance was a long time ago
- Lichens and/or moss are discovered during visual inspection
If there is no visible dirt on the collectors under a cloudy sky and no lichen, fungus or moss has formed on the edge of the solar modules, professional cleaning can usually be postponed. In agricultural regions, however, it is recommended to clean the solar system more often, since the collectors in these areas are exposed to more dirt and air containing ammonia. Power outages occur during the hot summer months, and it is necessary to have some solar powered generators for home.
Is maintenance of the PV system mandatory?
No, maintenance of the solar system is not required by law, and there is also no mandatory maintenance protocol for solar systems. Every owner of a solar thermal or photovoltaic system can decide for themselves whether and when maintenance should be carried out. However, some manufacturers of solar systems see regular maintenance by specialist companies as a prerequisite for maintaining warranty claims.
Solar thermal & photovoltaic maintenance
Simply cleaning the collectors does not guarantee the optimal functionality of the solar technology. In order to guarantee efficient operation, the solar system must be serviced at certain intervals. Other components are also subjected to a check. Which components are involved depends on whether it is a photovoltaic system or a solar thermal system. A PV system is used to convert solar energy into electricity, while solar thermal can be used to generate hot water using solar energy.
Maintenance of the PV system
During the maintenance of the PV system, it is checked, among other things, whether all attachments on the solar modules are undamaged, the solar storage system is working properly and the cable connections are secure. The 12v inverter is also tested. The inverter converts the direct current generated by the solar system into alternating current, optimizes the performance of the photovoltaic system and supports the identification of possible faults in the solar technology. Software updates are therefore sometimes installed on the inverter as part of maintenance work on the solar system.
It is recommended to have a professional maintenance of a photovoltaic system carried out at least every 3 to 4 years.
Maintenance of the solar thermal system
A maintenance cycle of approx. 2 years is recommended for solar thermal systems. As part of the maintenance of a solar thermal system, the solar fluid is checked, among other things. This should be checked at regular intervals for its pH value and existing antifreeze and replaced every 5 to 6 years. In addition, the condition of the pipelines is checked, since a lot of energy and heat is lost with insufficient insulation and damaged insulation material. Other components to be serviced are the pump and the controller of a solar thermal system.
How much does the cleaning and maintenance of the solar system cost?
An average of 2 to 3 dollar per square meter can be expected for professional cleaning of the collectors. Depending on the type of roof and solar system, the water consumption for cleaning also varies, which affects the total price.
You can expect to pay up to 150 dollar for photovoltaic maintenance, excluding any repair work that may be necessary, which will become apparent as part of the maintenance. Solar thermal energy requires a little less maintenance and maintenance is usually a little cheaper at up to 100 dollar.
If you clean the PV system yourself and/or have a maintenance contract with the installer, the costs for cleaning and maintenance of the solar system can be significantly reduced.
PV maintenance via a maintenance contract
Maintenance contracts can be concluded for both the classic photovoltaic system and the solar thermal system, which guarantee regular maintenance of the solar system at sometimes more favorable conditions. As opposed to a flat fee for maintenance and/or cleaning by a professional, homeowners typically pay a price per installed kilowatt for periodic inspections as part of a maintenance contract. Services to be carried out during photovoltaic maintenance are stipulated in the maintenance contract and sometimes go beyond the services of “normal” maintenance.
Cleaning and maintaining the PV system yourself – what needs to be considered?
Independent cleaning and maintenance of the solar system(either12 volt lithium battery, 24v, or 48v battery) can save costs, but is also associated with considerable risks.
In principle, it is possible to clean the PV system yourself if all the collectors can be easily reached with a telescopic rod, without taking a high risk, e.g. B. a fall from the roof or electric shocks due to damaged insulation. Good protection and testing of the PV system is therefore essential. Proper cleaning is also important. Classic household cleaners can be caustic and damage the surface of the collectors. Therefore, only use cleaning agents that are specially designed for solar modules. Clean the collectors with a telescopic rod and a soft sponge under running, preferably low-lime, water. On the other hand, it is taboo to remove the dirt with a high-pressure cleaner.
To a certain extent, as a homeowner, you can clean your PV system yourself. However, if bird droppings or other dirt has become too stubborn and cannot be removed with a sponge, a specialist must take care of the matter. Due to the high risk of falling when working on the roof, it is generally advisable to commission specialist companies. This also applies to the maintenance work on the solar system. The lack of technical and manual know-how also comes into play here, which increases the risk of accidents or incorrectly carried out repairs and thus damage to the solar technology.
Conclusion: cleaning and maintenance of the solar system increases service life and yields
Regular checks as part of professional maintenance and regular cleaning of the solar modules help ensure that the yields and thus the financial benefits of a solar system remain high for many years.
Regardless of whether it is solar thermal for heating or photovoltaics for electricity – the collectors of a solar panel system( marine solar panels or solar panel for rv) should be visually inspected regularly and cleaned if necessary in order to guarantee optimal performance and to extend their service life.
For the same reasons, a professional inspection and maintenance of the solar system is also important every few years at different maintenance intervals, during which the most important components of the installed solar technology are checked. For solar thermal must so z. B. the solar fluid is replaced every 5 to 6 years, the inverter is updated and checked during photovoltaic system maintenance.
Owners of a solar thermal or PV system can keep the maintenance costs of the solar system lower by cleaning the collectors themselves. However, such work must be carried out with sufficient security and the right cleaning agents. Otherwise you would risk both your own health and damage to the surface of the solar panels for campers. In addition, before doing your own work, it should be checked to what extent warranty claims could be forfeited as a result.