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Solar Electricity

Operation and Maintenance

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Solar electric systems are low maintenance with no moving parts, but like any electronic equipment, they do require routine, periodic attention for maximizing performance. System performance can now be monitored in a variety of ways.

Maintenance

Step 7: Installation suggests sources for finding qualified companies and contractors. These professionals may also conduct system inspections and perform maintenance tasks. Ask your system installer what is required or recommended and be sure to read the owner’s manual. Companies may provide a yearly maintenance checklist specific to your system. It is recommended you hire a licensed and/or certified contractor, but if you plan on doing the work yourself, here is a list of what maintenance may include:

Panels/Array

Roof Penetrations

Flashing and sealant around roof penetrations should be in good condition.

Batteries

Require the most maintenance of any solar electric system component.

System Monitoring

It is important to know your system is operating efficiently and producing the amount of electricity intended. Monitoring devices allow system owners to view production at any time and to view historical production for comparison over time. For example, inverters are equipped with a display that shows current and lifetime power production.

Web-based monitoring/data-logging systems allow you to access information from your own computer or anywhere internet access is available. The information can include equipment performance, how much electricity was sent to the utility grid, how much money was saved, and the amount of greenhouse gases not emitted.

References

Brown, Michael. (2010, October/November). Keeping Tabs on Your PV System. Home Power, 139, 84-94.

National Renewable Energy Laboratory (produced) for U.S. Department of Energy. (2009, January). Own Your Power! A Consumer Guide to Solar Electricity for the Home. DOE/GO-102009-2656.

U.S. Dept. of Energy. (2011, Feb.). Installing and Maintaining a Small Solar Electric System. Retrieved February 16, 2011, from http://www.energysavers.gov/your_home/electricity/index.cfm/mytopic=10820