Solar Operations & Maintenance (O&M) - Everything You Should Know

solar panel maintenance and cleaning

Now, that you have taken the brave and judicious step and have gone solar, you must be having several questions on how to keep your solar system in the best shape. In addition to that, there are certain glitches that your solar power system might face, and knowing about them in advance will make you better equipped to deal with the issues as and when they arise. Through this post, we will try to explain to you everything important that is there to know about post-installation solar care. 

What Is Solar O&M:

solar panel cleaning and maintenance

Solar Operations and Maintenance (O&M) is the best way to ensure that your solar panels keep giving the maximum electricity output and enjoy a long life. It refers to all the SOPs that should be followed by solar installers and subsequent users to properly take care of the solar power plant. This includes regularly inspecting the system to detect any evident physical defects, cleaning panels periodically, or getting a monitoring system to have real-time data about the power output, power consumption, or any anomalous behavior in the system. 

Benefits of O&M

Before we go on to discuss in detail the different aspects of Solar O&M, let us have a look at its top benefits for your solar power system.

  • Less time-induced degradation 
  • Less depreciation in the market value
  • High power output for more years
  • Lower chances of serious faults or breakdowns
  • Cost reduction in expenses incurred on repairing and replacement
  • And, last but the most significant - Peace of Mind 

General O&M Checklist:

There are some basic things about your solar setup that you can inspect on your own once every few months. This ensures that you can seek expert help in advance in case you notice a problem. Accidents involving the solar power system or any of its components can also be avoided if a periodical survey is done. Some of the things to do are:

  1. Check if debris or waste has accumulated at the installation site or under the panels, inverters, or other components.
  2. Make sure that the wiring points and sockets are enclosed and not accessible to anyone except a certified electrician.
  3. Look out for any loose, corroded, exposed, or hanging wires.
  4. Inspect under the panels for any nest or animal infestation.
  5. Unclog the drains, if choked, to prevent the accumulation of water.
  6. Check for signs of corrosion in the mounting system, panel racks, or any other component.
  7. Confirm that the panels are clean and that no shadow is falling upon them.

In case you feel that there is an issue in any of these checks that can’t be resolved on your own, then get in touch with your installer for repair and maintenance.

Solar Panel Cleaning -Tools and Tips:

Solar Panels don’t demand a lot of regular work and attention. However, a little care every few days enables the panels to work efficiently and deliver an uninterrupted power supply. One of these areas of care is the cleaning of solar panels. Read on to know more about:


The importance of clean solar panels:

Cleaning solar panels isn’t only necessary to preserve their aesthetic appeal. Clean panels are instrumental to the proper functioning and output of the solar power plant. 

In layman’s words, a solar panel takes sunlight as input and provides direct current as output. Deducing from this, the amount of electricity you get from a given number of solar panels depends on the amount of solar radiation your panels receive and their efficiency. Since you can’t change the efficiency of solar panels, you must ensure that the panels receive maximum possible incident sunlight throughout the day for maximum electricity generation. One way of ensuring this is by installing the panels at an optimum angle and on a roof with the best orientation. Once that is done, you have to ensure that the surface of the panels is clear of dust, oil stains, bird droppings, soot, etc so that the sunlight falling is actually reaching the solar cells. Dust and pollutants can decrease the power generating capacity of the panels by up to 20% and can even cause long term damage. 

How to clean solar panels easily:

Cleaning solar panels is no rocket science in most of the cases. Just make sure you are wearing protective equipment like gloves and you are good to go. 

Clean water, a sponge, and a dry cloth will do the trick for you. Click here to read our simplified guide to the cleaning of solar panels. Also, never scratch the surface of panels with any pointed object as it will damage it permanently. 

*Some Solar Installers provide free post-installation maintenance for a few years. Make sure you get in touch with them to avail of their service, if available.

Latest and automatic solar cleaning systems:

Cleaning technologies are usually best-suited for large solar power plants where regular monitoring and cleaning can be a daunting task. New technologies like nanoparticle coating and electrostatic dust removal can make panel cleaning a less laborious and efficient task for household rooftop solar users too. The emergence of AI-powered automatic cleaning systems is a leap ahead as it will minimize power losses due to unclean panel surface and thus prove to be cost-effective in the longer run. 

People who live in high pollution zones can use sprinkler systems and automated cleaners to keep their worries at bay. 

Solar Monitoring:

solar monitoring system

Solar Monitoring essentially is the tool to provide an answer to all the curious questions solar owners usually have. A good Solar Monitoring System (SMS) will help you access in real-time the amount of power the solar system is generating, the consumption at any given time of the day, and the potential problems that might be there or are likely to occur in the future. 

How do solar monitoring systems work? 

The Solar Monitoring System is attached to the inverter of the solar power system since the inverter is the point where electricity demand is determined and the supply takes place. From there, the SMS gathers information about the power output, the power consumed, etc, and then uploads it to a cloud-based network. Cloud data makes it possible for users to access the data from anywhere in the world at the click of a button. The data can be accessed via an app meant for the purpose or by logging into a website created by the monitoring system manufacturer. 

Benefits of Solar Monitoring:

  • Helps you know how much you are saving on your electricity bill because of solar power.
  • Warns you about a decrease in the power output thereby helping you take curative action.
  • Reminds you to clean your panels on time.

Read more about the benefits and working of Monitoring Systems here

Common Problems Solar Users Face:

solar hotspot common solar problems

[In Picture: Solar Hostspot]

Solar panels come with a long warranty period extending up to 25 years and usually do not require a lot of repair work if regular cleaning and maintenance is taken care of. However, some issues tend to arise with a lot of solar power users. A lot of these can be avoided by buying high-grade solar equipment, choosing a credible installer, and following some preventive steps in addition to the regular cleaning and maintenance. 

The three most reported problems faced by solar users are:

  1. Bird Droppings: Pigeons and other birds have a sweet spot for solar panels which becomes a cause of trouble for solar panel owners. Bird droppings tend to stick and thus badly impact solar power output.
  2. Microcracks: Microcracks can occur because of several reasons like poor quality of material, improper handling while installation, etc. They are invisible to the unaided eye but severely harm the durability of the panels.
  3. Hotspot Creation: Hotspots are generally created when a part of solar panels is shaded or covered by something. Hotspots can completely stop power generation from a panel and thus should be addressed immediately. 

There are many more things that can go wrong with your solar panels if you aren’t aware enough to take the right steps at the right time. We have compiled all the issues and steps to solve them here

Finally, if you ensure that your panels are cleaned regularly and properly, their performance timely monitored using available solar monitors, and any potential faults reported to a solar expert, then your solar power system will in return ensure that you can lay back and enjoy uninterrupted power supply from the largest and cleanest energy source.


Back to Top

Start Saving From Today
Share This Blog Post:
Did this article help you?