Photovoltaic system maintenance: protect yourself from production outages and guarantee its durability
Regular maintenance of your photovoltaic system ensures full performance and durability of your installation in the long term.
In general, photovoltaic installations are systems with little need for maintenance, however, it is essential to carry out a regular inspection to ensure maximum production and performance of the installation over the years. This periodic inspection makes it easy to detect any failure, material fatigue, as well as other situations that may lower its performance and can be easily corrected. In a practical way, maintenance contracts are important to ensure that proper intervals are respected: maximising efficiency and consequently energy production; guaranteeing the expected economic benefit.
Benefits of regular maintenance:
- Continuous technical inspection
- Ensuring high incomes
- Guarantee of equipment durability for long periods
- Correct small defects before they get worse
- Compliance with the guarantee conditions
- Guaranteeing the security conditions of buildings and their users
- Compliance with the conditions required by a third party (investor)
- Compliance with the conditions required by an insurance entity
When should the maintenance of the photovoltaic system start?
Preferably, you establish a maintenance contract at the time of commissioning of the installation. The continuous monitoring, from the first day of production on, ensures that any failures are easily detected, and that you get the maximum yield from the installation.
An inspection should always be made when it is suspected that the photovoltaic system is not producing the energy estimated in the project, or that something is not working properly and may affect the electricity production.
The monitoring of the installation also allows technical inspections to be carried out before the end of the warranty periods, ensuring that they can be properly triggered before their expiration, avoiding repair costs.
A maintenance contract signed at an early stage allows you to minimize failures and yield losses of your solar photovoltaic installation.
If you do not have a maintenance contract yet, these are indicators for the need of maintenance of the photovoltaic system:
- The yield of the system is below the average values of the previous year, in addition to what is allowed by the normal degradation of the modules; or in the case of new installations, the production values are below the reference values / project.
- Part of the installation is covered by coarse dirt such as leaves, moss or bird droppings, which result in large losses of performance and/or the possibility of early deterioration of the modules (hot spots).
- Defects in components or solar panels, which may lead to system failures.
Maintenance procedures for photovoltaic systems
The maintenance procedures for photovoltaic systems are defined by a standard (IEC 62446-1) and should contain the following tasks:
- Visual inspection of the photovoltaic system
- Analysis of defects, deficiencies and failures in the system, including individual components, such as cracks in the cells, state of the insulation silicone of the module frames or interruptions in contacts
- Thermographic examination for verification of hot spots
- Power measurement of individual solar modules or their strings
- Comparison of performance with reference installations
- Maintenance documentation with report and suggestions for correction and/or improvement
- You should inform yourself in advance about all the services included in the maintenance contract
All services included and their costs should be agreed, from the beginning of the installation, through a contract: since they have a direct impact on the profitability of the investment.
In addition to the costs of preventive maintenance, you may contract the extension of the inverter warranty up to 15 years – for the equipment with the highest failure rate, typically between the 10th and 15th year of life of the system -, set prices for corrective maintenance and/or add the emergency service. Thus, if serious defects occur, the costs will remain under control.
The importance of cleaning the solar modules
Cleaning the photovoltaic panels is one of the most important maintenance tasks, since dirt leads to a drop in system performance. Therefore, regular cleaning is recommended to remove debris accumulated in solar modules. Special attention should be paid to the space between the glass and the frame, where the dirt accumulating can lead to moss that will cause infiltrations of moisture, which causes the early detimation of the photovoltaic module.
The regularity of cleaning depends on exposure to dirt. Therefore, in places with a high concentration of dust, such as near industrial areas, or roads with heavy traffic, this operation should be carried out more frequently.
It is not advisable for the owner to clean his own photovoltaic system. This requires special knowledge and equipment, ensuring safety – since the equipment is normally installed on the roof – in addition to not causing risks to the modules and/or damaging any system component.
The following points should be considered when cleaning:
- Avoid applying water with too high a pressure
- Use of mild detergents
- Use water with low lime content (demineralized)
- Cleaning with soft brush or sponge
Rain promotes some cleaning, especially of light dirt and dust, but persistent stains, such as those caused by bird droppings, are not properly removed.
SOLVasto offers maintenance services for your photovoltaic system. Contact us for more information.