Monitoring, Rooftop, Solar

Listen Up: The Solar Maintenance Myth

Why are rooftop solar systems so reliable? First, because the solar panels themselves have zero moving parts, use tempered glass and anodized aluminum (better than most windows and skylights), and are covered by a 25 year manufacturer’s warranty. Second, because top quality microinverters carry a 25 year warranty and string inverters carry a 10 year warranty — and based on industry experience, the real-world performance of quality inverters has exceeded their warranty term. And third, because flashed rooftop mounting systems using all aluminum and stainless steel components will last at least as long as a homeowner’s roof.

If your last name is Murphy you may ask: “what could go wrong?” If you live in a dusty or dry area, you may want to have your solar panels washed periodically. Monitoring systems are susceptible to occasional internet communications glitches — but these communications glitches have no affect on your system’s energy output. If you have a string inverter, it is reasonable to expect replacements after 10-15 years (at Cinnamon Solar we regularly replace 10+ year old string inverters). Otherwise — except for your roof wearing out — you can expect 25+ year of trouble free operation of your system.

But if you are paranoid or cursed by bad luck, carefully check the terms of the maintenance agreements that are offered by your solar installer. And run the numbers yourself to see how much this “all inclusive” maintenance will really cost. The things that do go wrong are almost always excluded from coverage (such as panel cleaning or rodents chewing wires), and the things that are included (such as a defective inverter or solar panel) are almost always covered by the manufacturer’s warranty. So please Listen Up to this week’s Energy Show on Renewable Energy World for a practical overview of home solar maintenance requirements.

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About The Energy Show

As energy costs consume more and more of our hard-earned dollars, we as consumers really start to pay attention. But we don’t have to resign ourselves to $5/gallon gas prices, $200/month electric bills and $500 heating bills. There are literally hundreds of products, tricks and techniques that we can use to dramatically reduce these costs — very affordably.

The Energy Show on Renewable Energy World is a weekly 20-minute podcast that provides tips and advice to reduce your home and business energy consumption. Every week we’ll cover topics that will help cut your energy bill, explain new products and technologies in plain English, and cut through the hype so that you can make smart and cost-effective energy choices. 

About Your Host

Barry Cinnamon is a long-time advocate of renewable energy and is a widely recognized solar power expert. In 2001 he founded Akeena Solar — which grew to become the largest national residential solar installer by the middle of the last decade with over 10,000 rooftop customers coast to coast. He partnered with Westinghouse to create Westinghouse Solar in 2010, and sold the company in 2012.

His pioneering work on reducing costs of rooftop solar power systems include Andalay, the first solar panel with integrated racking, grounding and wiring; the first UL listed AC solar panel; and the first fully “plug and play” AC solar panel. His current efforts are focused on reducing the soft costs for solar power systems, which cause system prices in the U.S. to be double those of Germany.

Although Barry may be known for his outspoken work in the solar industry, he has hands-on experience with a wide range of energy saving technologies.  He’s been doing residential energy audits since the punch card days, developed one of the first ground-source heat pumps in the early ‘80s, and always abides by the Laws of Thermodynamics.

Lead image: Green microphone via Shutterstock