Are Your Solar Panels Fading? Here’s What You Can Do

Close up of clean, blue on white solar panels

Getting a solar energy system for your home or business is a fantastic and reliable way to save money and protect the environment at the same time. It can also make your home more self-sufficient.

But it’s a big decision to make for your home. How much will it cost you? How long will your system last?

Do you know how to maintain solar panels?

These are all good questions that you should absolutely be asking yourself when shopping for a trustworthy solar energy system. But how easy it is to take care of them will astound you!

Read on to learn everything you need to know about maintaining your new solar energy system.

Where Is the Most Effective Place to Put Solar Panels?

You might find yourself wondering, “How do I get the most out of my solar panels?” The truth is that when you first buy your solar panels, they’ll be at their maximum efficiency. But placing them somewhere that doesn’t see a lot of sunlight might keep them from absorbing as much energy as they could.

This is why most people will have them put in sunny gardens or on top of roofs. For them to absorb as much sunlight as possible, you want them in a place that trees and debris won’t obstruct. This gives them full access to direct sunlight whenever it shines.

So putting them on top of your roof probably makes the most sense. The only issue is that this also exposes your solar panels to the elements. Rain, wind, and even snow will affect them every day.

The good news is that solar panels tend to be pretty sturdy. Many solar panels have even survived hurricanes.

Your main concerns might be if you live in an area of frequent tornados or large hail. If this sounds like you, then you might want to check that a warranty or homeowner’s insurance will protect your solar energy system.

Other issues you might run into are bird poop and pollen building up on your solar panels. While generally considered low maintenance, this kind of obstruction can prevent sunlight from hitting the solar cells as well as it should. Therefore, it can cause your system to run less efficiently.

What Causes Solar Panels to Degrade?

There is a name for when solar panels start to lose their efficiency: degradation. This can be the result of serious damage or obstruction on top of your solar panels. It will also simply happen naturally over time even if you take steps to maintain your solar panels.

You’ll notice that your warranty from the manufacturer will usually guarantee up to ninety percent efficiency for the first ten years. This is usually followed by another twenty years that guarantee eighty percent efficiency. This is out of a total of one hundred percent efficiency, which is what your solar panels will start with when they’re installed.

If you maintain them, the degradation process will be slow. Most solar panels made after the year 2000 degrade at a rate of less than one percent per year.

A solar panel is generally considered inefficient once it drops below eighty percent efficiency. But that doesn’t mean that it won’t still produce energy for your home. One of the oldest solar panels is sixty years old and is still producing energy.

However, it means that you will slowly start to notice that you’re not saving as much money on your energy bill every month. If this is alright with you, then you might not worry about it for a little while longer. However, like all things a solar panel won’t work forever.

Eventually, you will need to replace your solar panels to get the same energy efficiency you had before.

How to Maintain Solar Panels

The good news is that solar panels aren’t very difficult to maintain. You want to make sure that you’ve placed them where they won’t get pelted by falling leaves and twigs, but otherwise, you simply need to clean them every once in a while.

This process will serve to remove any dirt, pollen, or bird poop that has gotten on top of your solar panels. Any debris like this will prevent sunlight from reaching your solar cells. That means your solar panels won’t be generating as much energy for your home.

The good news is that if you live in an area that gets pretty consistent rain, then you shouldn’t need to do much. But if you go through a dry season or just don’t see any rain for a while, then you should take a garden hose and spray all the dirt off of your solar panels. This will remove any pollen and dirt from the solar panels.

If you have any stubborn pieces of bird poop stuck to your solar panels, a wet rag and some elbow grease should do the trick to remove this.

When it snows, you’ll want to remove it from your solar panels too. A garden hose with lukewarm water should melt ice and snow right off of the tops of them. Make sure it’s not hot water since interaction with snow would cause the solar panels to crack from the sudden change in heat.

Maintaining your solar panels in this way is the best way to keep them running efficiently for as long as possible.

How to Fix Solar Panels

The good news is that you can usually fix solar panels if they get damaged or cloudy. After a while, you may notice clouded plastic on your solar cells. This kind of clouding prevents sunlight from getting to the solar cells to generate power.

Rinsing and cleaning your solar panels isn’t going to help with this. You need something that’s going to clear the plastic for you.

Believe it or not, clear nail polish could be exactly what you need. Given the size of their cells, this trick is usually best used on a small solar light cell. All you need to do is spread some clear nail polish across the solar cells, careful not to get it on anything else.

Some people might be worried that this will reduce the amount of sunlight that can reach the solar cells, but that’s not true. In fact, it will make your solar panels more effective than if you let them stay cloudy.

The other thing you can do to fix your solar panels is getting experts to help you. If the problem isn’t that your panels are a little cloudy, then this is probably the best thing for you to do. Unless you are trained in fixing this equipment, you can easily break it if you try to do it yourself.

An expert will know exactly what to do to get your solar panel working right again, so you don’t have to worry about a thing.

Can Solar Panels Be Recycled?

Nothing lasts forever, and solar panels are no exception. No matter how well you take care of them, eventually, they will need to be replaced. Most solar panels are considered ineffective after twenty years, but yours may keep working just fine for longer than that.

But if solar panels eventually need to be replaced, what happens to the old ones? Are they recyclable?

The short answer to this is yes. They are indeed recyclable. The panel covers are usually made of plastic, which can be remade into something else.

But the reality is a little more complicated. While it’s completely possible to recycle degraded solar panels, it’s hard to get them to a place that will do that in the United States. Although many solar panels will be accepted by standard recycling companies.

The other option is that landfills will sell these solar panels second-hand. If the solar panel is still even somewhat usable, then it’s possible that it might still be useful to someone.

It’s also possible to recycle the panel itself in a way that recovers up to ninety percent of its solar cells for reuse. And the United States government is currently working on a way to make recycling solar panels cheaper for everyone.

This is good news because it encourages people to get their own solar installation. It means that people don’t need to worry about what will happen to their old solar panels when they need replacing. And with technology getting better all the time, soon you might see astounding lifespans from your solar panels.

Get Your Solar Energy System Today

So you can see that your solar energy system will last for a long time. It lasts even longer if you know how to maintain solar panels. Following the advice in this guide will make sure your solar panels are still producing energy after twenty years.

And the best place to get a trustworthy solar energy system for your home or business is here at LCGY Power. Our experts are delighted to help get you set up with clean solar energy today. Schedule a consultation today to get started!

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