Solar Rooftops & How to maintain them?

Posted On 25 Jan 2020

A life of any system is as good as the life of an individual component. You would normally hear from any system integrator that a system would last for more than 25 years. The first solar industry started only a decade ago in our country so there is no way yet to judge. However, there are other countries that have seen them run for 30 years, which makes one believe that the systems could last. With time, Operation and Maintenance become more important so that the system performs to its full capacity and lasts for a longer time.

Let us look at the requirements involved with various components of a solar-based system.

Solar Panels:
The main component of the solar plant is a Solar panel. As solar panels are exposed to the sun, there reasons to believe that the particles in the environment could block the sunlight. Any blockage of sunlight due to dust, or foliage would reduce the solar generation from the solar module. A solar power plant has a number of solar panels connected in series. The need for cleaning these panels depends on the level of soiling that happens at the site. It could be weekly once to monthly once, depending on the location of the site. Proper care should be taken to make sure that there are no scratches on the panel glass. It is important the panels are cared like the glass windows of your home or like your car windshields.

Mounting Structure:

A solar panel might last for 25 years, but the structure it is mounted on might weaken over years and can fall apart making the entire solar plant vulnerable. So it is important that the components that are being used are durable and rust-resistant. Another thing to look for is the requirement of reinforcements. It is important that reinforcements are done if the structures are found to become unstable.

It is important to use galvanized bolts and nuts as they are relatively corrosive free. But using galvanized nuts on the zinc layer is a risky option. If the surface gets scratched then it tends to corrode. So it is better to use stainless steel as it does not corrode when compared to other steel surfaces. The fasteners are an important component and need to be maintained in the same way.

Solar Inverters:
Solar panels come with 25 years of warranty. The next most important component of a solar plant is the inverter. These solar inverters come with 5 to 20 years of warranty. However, they need to be frequently checked to make sure that they are not being turned off for errors like a ground fault, overvoltage or under voltage even under normal conditions.

Unlike the regular AC/DC cables that are found in the household appliances, solar cables particularly used in the power plant systems are mostly made for outdoor use. These cables are able to withstand extreme weather elements like high temperatures and high UV radiation. It is important that DC string cables that are being used are class II double-insulated to protect against any ground faults and short circuits. These cables should not be exposed to direct weather elements and should be routed inside UPVC weather-resistant pipes. These pipes need to be specially ordered as they are not available in common stores or markets.

Electrical components:
All the electrical components are given a standardized score to determine its rating and they have a determined lifespan. Failure of a component or loose cable that has not been properly fastened can lead to a higher short circuit current which could damage other electronic components like inverters or solar panels. These components need to be checked periodically, at least once or twice every six months to make sure that there is no loose wire dangling inside the system.

Remote Monitoring System:
Last but not the least is the ability to remotely monitor the health of the rooftop PV system. There are various types of monitoring systems that could be used to monitor remotely. The level of monitoring will always depend on the kind of inverter that is being used. A monitoring system helps in finding out the fault and rectifying the system. A monitoring device provides with the information like Power, Energy generated today, Life energy,
voltages, and frequencies in each phase. All of this information can and should be used for preventive maintenance of a solar plant and reduce the downtimes drastically.