Solar panels are extremely durable, and should require little to no maintenance. Warranties that come with your system will insure you, in the event that something goes wrong. However, to maintain your panels to perform at the highest way possible, you should educate yourself.
A solar system’s lifetime can span up to 25 years or more. Warranties have you covered in the event that the panels get damaged from a tree falling on your panel, hail storms, water damage, or other environmental catastrophes. However, because the exterior of a solar panel is made up of glass, there’s obviously some things to look out for. Meanwhile, you should try your best to prevent the smaller incidents: things like micro-scratches, small cracks, or short-circuiting.
Twigs, leaves, and dirt are all potentially hazardous to your solar panels. Things like entire branches or acorns could harm your panels in a more serious way, or wreck them completely. The most obvious solution to avoiding these issues is to make sure no trees are directly overhead or in close proximity to your panels. If the trees in your property require regular pruning, make sure you’re on top of that upkeep. Spraying off your panels off with a garden hose or wiping them down with a microfiber cloth - once a season - are easy ways to prevent the build-up of debris, that could harm your panels, overtime.
When it comes to preventing water damage, solar systems require similar upkeep as the insulation or sealing of window panes. Over time, sealant becomes worn and susceptible to leakage. This can cause short-circuiting and the wearing-down the interior of you panels. While each panel is tested before it’s installed - it’s important to stay on top of upkeep by resealing each panel, or having a licensed solar panel contractor reseal your panel for you.
Most solar manufacturers test their systems to make sure they are durable enough to withstand hail storms. The National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) reported saying that 50,000 solar energy systems installed from 2009 - 2013 showed only 0.1% of all PV systems have been affected, damaged or underperforming modules each year. Solar panels are tested and certified to withstand hail of up to 25 mm falling at 23 meters per second. That in mind, you’re paying a considerable amount for a durable piece of equipment, and it should be able to withstand intense weather conditions.
However, in the case that hail does impact your panel - you would most likely have to replace the whole panel. This is because if one area of the panel is damaged, the energy output loss is significant and practically like losing the whole panel. You could consider buying smaller panels - because getting repairs on a smaller panel is cheaper than on a larger system.
While it’s important to stay aware of these energy issues, your solar panels should have been tested and insured by the company you purchased from. Solar technology is advancing all the time, and panels are becoming more durable to weather and environmental conditions every day. When you purchase solar, you should be sure that you’re powering your home with no obstacles getting in the way, even the weather.