Keep Your System Clean
If your solar panels aren’t in a hard to reach place, you can keep your panels clean most of the year all by yourself, though we highly recommend having your solar company inspect and maintain your panels once or twice a year. Keeping your solar panels clean is as easy as cleaning the dishes, just add soap and water. Right after washing them, customers often see a 10% increase in production so you will absolutely benefit from regular cleanings.
What to do? Well cleaned and maintained items always last longer. Soap and water or a vinegar solution works just fine for your average debris and dirt covered panel, maybe using rubbing alcohol for any particularly tough spots. But be warned, sometimes certain soaps leave a solar panel clean but too shiny, which reflects the sunlight instead of absorbing it! If you want to save the time and energy, then call Synergy Power and have us do it for you!
We get calls when people get a large utility bill or otherwise have concerns about the company that installed. Naturally they want to verify that their system is working correctly. How can you know how your system is performing before something bad happens?
– Is your system on track monthly?
A good install company should explain & provide monitoring of your system’s performance on a monthly basis. A glance at a smart phone app once a month tells you all you need to know. Many customers want to see the instant output of a PV system to determine system performance, but this is unrealistic. Such data requires specialized equipment, which few install companies have. SynergyPower has this apparatus- We can conduct such a test on a clear day at a time when your panels have full sun (no shade).
– Is your monitoring reporting any errors?
Nearly all PV solar systems today have free monitoring systems. The easiest way to access many of these is to install the app on your smart phone and keep a weekly to monthly eye on it. If it reports an error, contact the installer. Or call us! We can help resolve the issue.
– Have trees shaded your solar since you installed?
Tree growth is often overlooked as culprit for your solar underperforming over time. Installers may assume trees will not grow and/or you’ll keep them trimmed. There are even laws in some states ensuring your ‘right to sun access’ once you install solar on your roof, including from neighbors’ trees. Regardless of views on that legislation, it is a factor that’s often overlooked. Few people want to pay for a system inspection only to find out they need to pay someone else to trim their trees in order to restore system performance.
– How does your monthly utility bill look?
If you are on an annual net metering agreement (NEM) with your utility, expect to create a credit in the summer and likely the opposite in the winter. This assumes your system is designed to eliminate your bill and not just reduce it. Keeping an eye on that monthly utility statement is a great way to make sure you don’t get hit with a massive bill at the end of the solar anniversary.
– Is the inverter on?
Many systems have an inverter with a green light indicating that all is well. Check your manual or send us a picture of yours if you have any questions. Of course, many other systems have AC modules or inverters under each panel, a good reason to keep that monitoring active and supervised.
– Are the panels dirty?
While some dirt is normal, if your solar panels are very dirty (or these days, covered with ash), it may be practical to clean them. Our trained technicians clean the panels and perform a basic check to ensure the system is working. They can also recommend a more thorough inspection and explain why it may be warranted. Avoid window cleaners that dismiss the difference between solar panels and window glass, as they may use soap that can leave residue that reflects, rather than absorbs sunlight. SynergyPower has solar panel cleaing experts on staff.
Residential service starts at $375 for a NABCEP certified installer to inspect your system. Larger systems, with more than 2 string inverters typically cost an additional $50 per inverter.
Commercial system inspections start at $475 and go up from there based on size and location.
A few things to keep in mind regarding system inspections.
– What exactly is being checked?
You want to make sure you know what exactly is being verified, and what type of documentation you’ll receive. Synergy Power provides a 28 point check list with photo documentation.
– What testing standards will be used?
We test to the MCS and IEC 642446 standards. This means your system will be tested to ensure safe and proper operation. You can learn more about these standards here.
Costs can increase due to accessibility. If your system is mounted on a carport, that can often increase the complexity and time required for proper testing. Expect to pay more for difficult access situations.
If you are getting your system inspected, it’s also a good time to consider getting it cleaned. Since you’ll have technicians on site, it’s a great time to save a truck roll and get those modules cleaned.
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