Maintaining your PV system

A rooftop solar power system is a low maintenance and long lived asset for your home or business. It's not entirely set-and-forget though. Here are some tips for ensuring you get the best out of your renewable energy investment.

1. Keeping your panels clean

A build up of dust, dirt (including ash), gum resin and bird droppings on your solar panels can affect the efficiency and energy output of your system by up to 15%. Rain will wash some of this residue away in time, and your system will continue to operate without being cleaned, but to keep your system operating at its full potential a periodic clean can be worthwhile, particularly if your panels are installing close to horizontally.

Hopping up on your roof is a hazardous activity though, so if do you want to maximise the energy you are generating we recommend instead seeking the assistance of a contractor accredited for working at heights.

2. Periodic inspection and maintenance

The connection of your solar power system to Power and Water's electricity grid requires that you ensure the system is periodically maintained, and that a maintenance log book is kept. For more details on Power and Water requirements refer to the "Network Connection Agreement" on their website.

You can download a suggested PV log sheet here.

Periodic inspection will help pick up any minor or potential faults, and ensure that your investment is performing as it should.

The periodic maintenance must be carried out by the original installer or another accredited PV contractor, who will carry out a range of system checks in line with the Australian Standards.

Here are some simple checks you can do yourself:

Daily/Weekly:

Check that your system has been operational, either by reading your in-house display, or by reading numbers from the inverter screen. If it has been a sunny day you should expect around 4kWh per kW of capacity of your system. On cloudy days your system will produce a good deal less than this.

Quarterly:

Visual inspection of the panels from a safe location. Are your panels being shaded by nearby trees or other objects? Can you see a significant buildup of debris on the panels, or damage?

Annually:

Consider arranging a professional maintenance inspection and panel cleaning.