If you own solar panels, you are well aware of their benefits and drawbacks. Solar panels have been a boon in today’s era. However, we cannot deny that maintaining it may be hectic sometimes, particularly when you expect everything to be OK but are not getting the necessary efficiency and output from your panels. 

It’s even more frustrating when you have no idea what’s wrong and wish you knew how to test your solar panels. So, if you want to check your solar panels for flaws or run tests on them, you’ve come to the correct spot. Continue reading to become informed.

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Solar Panels and their advantages on our environment

Solar panels are the board of silicon wafers that can capture solar energy from the sun, such as heat and light, and convert it into electricity. The evolution and popularity of solar panels have increased dramatically since their invention during the 18th century. 

With the increasing adverse effect of climate change and global warming, people have become conscious of their activities and have started to monitor their carbon footprints. So, solar panels have been a boon for those environmentally conscious people. 

Some of the noticeable positive impacts of solar panels on the environment are listed as below;

  • Electricity generated from the solar panels produces no greenhouse gas, and it helps to control the carbon emission.
  • It reduces pressure on non-renewable sources of energy.
  • It is economical as it lowers our electricity bills.
  • It saves water.

Knowing if Your Solar Panel is Working Fine 

Are you now unsure if the solar panels on the roof of your house are functioning correctly or not? If yes, don’t worry; it’s not only you who is confused. Almost 50% of the people owning solar panels are in a dilemma. 

According to a study, more than 33% of the total surveyed solar owners said they had a problem with their solar output but were confused about the issue.

So, how to know if your solar panels are at their best performance? Continue reading.

You must regularly inspect and check your solar panels to see if your solar panels are in good operating order. This exploration will offer you an exact readout of your solar panel’s power output, allowing you to assess whether or not it is in excellent working order. 

Following are some of the steps you can keep in mind to test your solar panel performance;

1. Keep an eye on your solar panel’s voltage and current rating: The first step in testing your solar panel is to detect its current rating and voltage found on the back of the panel.

2. Don’t be fooled by your electricity bills: Most solar panel owners remain calm, believing that their power bill is regular and so their solar panel is in good working order.

That is not the case because the statement only shows solar energy exported to the grid. It does not mean the whole amount of power generated or used by your household. So, by following these easy procedures, you can monitor and test your solar panel.

3. Check for dirt on your panels: Most of the time, your solar panels will not operate if they are coated with filth or dirt such as bird feces, dust, and so on. This dirt is washed away during the rainy season, but it quickly accumulates in the summer and winter.

So, the next time you detect mud on your solar panels, don’t be hesitant to clean it off straight away.

4. Is your solar panel under the shed?: Sometimes, your solar panel may not be receiving adequate solar energy. So, check to see if your solar panel is directly in the sun or if it has been shaded by trees or new construction.

Also, remember that if any of the panels are under the shed, it will also affect the others. So, make sure all of the panels are receiving adequate solar energy.

5. Check the light of your inverter: You can also test your solar panels by monitoring the color of lights on the inverter during the day; that is when the solar panel is supposed to be working. 

If the color of the light is red, then it means your solar panel has some problem, but if there is an indication of green light, it means your panel is working fine.

If everything looks fine, but still you doubt the performance of your solar panel, then you can contact your installer for help.

Also, do you know? According to a study by K.V. Vidyanandan, your solar panels’ performance will also be impacted by;

  • Orientation
  • Weather and Season
  • Type of photovoltaic material on your panel
  • Parasitic resistances
  • Cable thickness
  • Inverter efficiency
  • Geographical location

Why should we maintain Solar Panels?

Regular testing of your solar panels is essential. At the very least, we should self-inspect our panels once a month. And, according to the Green Match, we must have a professional person or the installer to test our solar panels once every 4 to 6 years. 

Having them checked will help us detect even minor issues and maintain our solar panels on time not to be ruined. 

Though the solar panels require low maintenance, testing them will allow you to have the best efficiency and maximum solar output. Also, evaluating your panels and maintaining them will allow your solar panels to last long. 

So, can we take care of our solar panels on our own? Yes, indeed. Most of the time, it is effortless to repair our solar panels, but we should be aware of our solar panels’ warranty information. 

Some standard methods for maintaining our solar panels include: 

  • Thoroughly wash the outside plates of your solar panel with water. However, you could be mindful that soaking them in cold water when heated may cause them to shatter or deteriorate.
  • If the dirt-like bird poop has dried up on your panel, you can also scrub them with soapy water, But again be cautious not to scratch the solar plates.
  • Moreover, regular dusting and sweeping of your solar panel will prevent dirt from piling up.
  • Finally, if your solar panels are extremely dirty and you have a busy schedule, then you can easily hire a professional to get them clean for you.

When Should You Replace Your Solar Panels?

Many of you may wonder about when to replace your solar panels? What is the lifespan of a solar panel? So, it depends on the individual solar panels. Some solar panels last 15 years, while some last about 20 to 30 years. 

Unlike other electronic devices, solar panels have a long life span, and they do not require frequent replacements until they are physically damaged or broken. It is said that the solar panels’ efficiency decreases with the passing year. 

According to The Phoenix Sun, solar panels have a 5% degradation rate per year. And if they are not appropriately maintained with time, then the degradation rate can be even higher. However, if sustained timely, then they continue to provide you with enough solar output. 

So, this means we are not to replace our solar panels after it serves its lifetime. But we are to replace them when it stops to provide you with adequate solar output as per your need.

Furthermore, it is also said that adding a new panel to the old will enhance the performance of the old solar panels and improve efficiency.

Final Words

In conclusion, solar panels are emerging as a new source of energy. Other factors, such as technological advancement, have contributed to the ease and low cost of adopting green energy sources. 

As a result, solar panel owners must also use and embrace this renewable energy source and learn how to test and maintain our solar panels. There are several simple ways to check our solar panels at home and determine if they are operating correctly or not. 

Additionally, being able to test and understand your solar panels’ effectiveness will help you maintain it over time, extending its efficiency and life span. We are relieved that we will not have to replace our solar panels in less than 5 to 10 years. Instead, they should only be replaced when they no longer produce the appropriate quantity of solar energy output.

(Last Updated on August 25, 2021 by Sadrish Dabadi)

Akriti Jha holds a Bachelor’s Degree in Environment Science from Tribhuvan University. Akriti is an Environment enthusiast with a passion for writing and reading. She feels responsible towards the environment and has been actively advocating for Zero Waste at Schools campaigns under Clean Up Nepal, a non-profit organization. As much as she loves to lead an eco-friendly lifestyle, she equally enjoys encouraging people around her to be environmentally conscious of their activities.