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!
Does Your Solar Needs Service?
We often get phone calls from people when they get a large utility bill or they have concerns about the install company. These are often triggers that finally prompts a customer to see if their system is working correctly. So how can you tell, before something bad happens?
– Is your system on track monthly?
A good install company should provide monitoring that shows exactly what your system should do every month. A smart phone app glance once a month is all it takes to see if your system is working correctly. Many customers want to look at the instant output of a PV system to see if it’s working correctly but this would be wrong. In order to tell if it’s working correctly at that moment, you need specialized equipment, which few install companies even have. We, of course, do but panels need full sun (no shade) and a clear day to do this type of test.
– 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’s reporting an error, get a hold of the installer or call us and we can help resolve the issue.
– Have trees shaded your solar since you installed?
Tree growth is often overlooked as a reason your solar isn’t performing like it did on day one. Most installers expect trees will not grow any taller and you’ll keep them trimmed, once you install solar. There are even laws in some states that say you have a right to sun access, once you install solar on your roof from neighbors trees. Regardless of how that may strike you, it’s an important 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, you should 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 aren’t going to be 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 everything is good and fine. 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. That’s a good reason to keep that monitoring active and supervised.
– Are the panels dirty?
While some dirt is very normal, if your solar panels are very dirty, it’s probably time to start with a panel cleaning. Our trained technicians not only clean the panels, but also perform a more basic check, to ensure the system is working. They can also recommend a thorough inspection and let you know what they are seeing to warrant that. Having a window washer clean your solar panels can cause several issues. For example, many window washers use soaps that leave panels shiny. Solar panels should soak up all the sun, not reflect it. So be careful who you have clean your solar panels.
What Does Service Cost?
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.