Solar panel question

Chris Steffen

Subscriber
Ok. I'm about to bite the bullet and have solar installed on my house. I've tried for the past seven years and it is finally to the point where it is affordable and the payoff is reasonable. My question: what maintenance is required on the panels. Do you have to clean them? Does dirt oxidize on the surface of the panels like an unwashed car? Anything else? Thanks.
 

Ray Cardoza

Active member
A local nut farmer has a big set up he told me all he does is hose um off once a year and they are good to go other than that he doesn't have to do much at all
 

Andrew Mackey

Moderator
My brother in law has an array on his home. He jjust rinses it off twice a year (dust pollen, bird crap etc. One thing to look out for - you do not want any trees within 50 feet of the array, to keep leaves and branches off the roof. Although his roof was only 5 years old, he was made to replace it by the installer. Otherwise, the guy would not warrenty the roof against leaks (30 years), caused by the installation. It was a good investment! He used to have a 100 or more a month electric bill. The highest bill he has had the last 3 years is about $9.00 ! Sometimes, when I visit, the meter is actually spinning backwards
 

Chris Steffen

Subscriber
Thanks. Not worried about leaks. I was at first, but the flashing they are going to use has a very unlikely chance of leaking. The lag bolt is raised and sealed. Still up in the air about doing it. Pay off is 7 to 10 yrs. fairly reasonable price for the system. We also have a good local rebate on top of the fed rebate. I have an ideal south facing roof with no obstructions. So, going to decide this week. Thanks for the input
 

marvgarr

New member
Grid tie solar setups are a waste. If you are off grid the pay back is faster plus you can do it your self way cheaper.
 

djohnm

New member
Here in the mountains of Virginia, the only other maintenance that would be required (which you would hopefully not have to worry about in Modesto) is getting the snow off them in the winter. For you with a roof mount, the only other thing (other than the periodic rinsing off, as mentioned) would be wasps, hornets, and particularly furry critters (which like to chew up insulation) setting up housekeeping under the panels. Check with your installer about rodent-proofing the installation, which with modern mounting hardware can be far less an issue than it has been in years past.

Good luck with it! You'll never look back...

-Dave
 

I like oldstuff

Subscriber
I have a friend in Phoenix with a BIG house that he solared to the max. As it has flat roofs with the walls extending above the roof, you don't even see the panels. He mops them off once or twice per year to get rid of dirt buildup although he doesn't notice any improvement in voltage or current with clean vs dirty panels.

He gets a monthly check from the you feed our grid and we'll pay you utility from $30 to $90. Even in the hot summer when his two huge central air units are cranking away he gets a small check. He's calculated his payback to be about 5 years.

Around my area I'd be afraid of hail damage to the panels. Once in a while we get clobbered with hail 1 inch or larger.
 

nblack

New member
The panels that I used are guaranteed to 1 inch hail. Point of note on this: the owner of the local company that I bought my setup from uses these same panels on his house. About almost three years ago now, here in Eastern Tn, we got HAMMERED with huge hail. His car parked in the yard looked like a wheeled golf ball, but the panels? perfect! that's what I bought. They are made in TX, and their name is 1soltech. the ones I went with are mono crystalline, 250W panels. great product! Here is my array that I built. BTW, mine is grid inter-tied, and the payoff for me is about 10 years. No electric bill in almost a year.....
 

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dkamp

eMail NOT Working
My name is Dave, and not only have I seen the previously mentioned Tennessee Array, I had something to do with acquisition of the tall steel poles onto which it was installed.

Nblack's system works very nicely.

The question of worth and payback have many variables, and one of the greatest is wether or not your local utility will do a grid-tie, what the tie contract timespan is, the rate difference (sell-back price is typically higher than what one has to BUY at), and finally, wether your installation takes fullest advantage of the solar exposure. One wouldn't, for example, want to mount an array on a hillside where it would be shadowed by the hill's peak for the first two hours of a solar day... while low angle illumination is rather low power, it's still illumination-hours which add up to the 'upside-down' timeframe of payoff.

The OP's question, however, was maintenance... and from what I've seen, keep 'em relatively clean, sensibly secure, and keep the vermin out, and you should be good...
 

Tony Rye

Subscriber
I would not mount them on my roof.you would be taken serval sq.feet of wind force to a few sq.in. of roof .and you also have a lift force to think about after about 5 years we had major repairs then you have to remove them to make the repair plus the leaks of course we have a lot of wind here
 

fun2drive

New member
My research does show that washing the panels off a couple times a year is all that is needed.
Contrary to a previous post grid tie will work well for me since I live in Florida and I expect the system to pay itself back in 7-10 years depending.

Batteries are expensive and unless you have no choice to go off grid the added cost and inefficiency takes you down to about 60%. Grid tie you are not changing voltage from DC to AC for a battery charger to the batteries which is DC then when you need to use them convert back to AC.

Regardless of micro inverters or a string inverter you change from DC to AC three times...
 
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