Ready to Go Solar? Here Are 8 Solar Panel Tips to Help You Do It Right

Congratulations for making the smart and environmentally friendly decision to go solar!! Fortunately, while not as easy as buying and maintaining a new bicycle, buying and maintaining solar panels isn’t as complicated as you might think.

The decision to buy solar panels is a big economical investment. On one hand, it’s costly, but in the long run it WILL save you big bucks. But the maintenance oh the maintenance… It’s also an important part of your decision. Maintenance is necessary to ensure your investment will pay off eventually. Below are 10 simple and easy tips to help you monitor and maintain solar panels to get your environmental groove on and also ensure your investment pays off eventually.

  • Structurally integrity. Your first step is to make sure your roof is structurally sound enough to support a solar panel system. On average, solar panels weigh around 40 pounds, so if you need 20 panels, you’re looking at 800 pounds.  Before buying and installing solar panels, verify that your roof can withstand this type of weight.
  • Get the right inverter. The inverter is essentially your system’s engine, so it’s crucial to get a system with a good inverter.  Make sure the inverter is built of quality materials and will keep out insects and weather, runs quietly, and has a low operating temperature.
  • Cleaning and maintenance. For your solar panels to run at their highest efficiency, they must be regularly cleaned and maintained. Otherwise, it’ll show up in your bill at the end of the year. If you clean regularly, running the hose over them should be enough to keep them clean. Less frequent cleaning, however, will require you to clean them with a soft cloth and gentle, biodegradable soap (never anything abrasive). To maintain your panels, make sure you occasionally check the connections between the inverter and the solar modules too, and tighten them as needed.
  • Keep them out of shade. –  Shade will dramatically reduce panel output, so before you buy your panels, make sure you have a place on your roof for them where they won’t be in the shade. And once installed, as part of your maintenance routine, check them periodically to ensure that there are no new shrubberies or trees shading them.
  • Know which batteries. – The battery is a crucial component of your solar panel system and there are three different types to choose from:  lead-acid; lithium-ion; and heavy metal free saltwater batteries. Each type varies in terms of cost, lifespan, and depth of discharge or DoD (DoD is how much energy or charge can be used before the battery needs to be recharged), so do your homework to get the one that best meets your needs.
  • Stagger the use of your appliances. – Make the most out of daylight hours by using your high-energy appliances such as dishwashers and washing machines during the daytime. This allows you to use the power as it’s being produced and therefore maximize efficiency.
  • Use energy efficient appliances. – Another way to maximize efficiency is to use energy efficient appliances. Lower your night time consumption by using LED instead of lights, and if possible, upgrade to energy efficient appliances.
  • Warranties and certifications. – Carefully note what guarantees are offered by the manufacturer such as how long the warranty period on the panels last as well as the panels’ certification, as the certification could affect whether you’ll be eligible for a government rebate.

Primary Sources

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