Off the grid solar system maintenance

This morning I performed a couple simple maintenance tasks for our off-the-grid solar system:

  • Washing the solar panels
    • This is actually optional maintenance, as you don’t have to wash your panels. However, keeping solar panels clean and free of dust etc. can appreciably boost your power output.
    • After washing the panels (it has been pretty dry and dusty lately) I had about 10% more electricity being generated. Woot!

Spiffy clean solar panels after being washed 🙂

  • Adding distilled water to the batteries
    • Flooded lead acid* batteries periodically require distilled water to be added
      • *Lead and acid, sounds pretty terrible right and not very ‘green’? While you definitely want to wear protection when dealing with anything involving acid, the good thing about the lead portion of the batteries is that the lead very recyclable and there are good programs in place to recycle lead-acid batteries:
        Lead–acid battery recycling is one of the most successful recycling programs in the world. In the United States 97% of all battery lead was recycled between 1997 and 2001.
        Source: Wikipedia

        If the batteries weren’t recyclable I wouldn’t be using these types of batteries!
    • Also, the lifespan of the batteries is in the decades (if they are gently used) so that is pretty nice too 🙂

Empty distilled water container after adding water to the lead-acid cells (the grey cap on the right opens to allow the water to be poured in with a funnel)

Minimal maintenance, great results

There are surprisingly few maintenance tasks required for an off-the-grid solar system. The two tasks I mentioned just take a few minutes and generally only need to be done on a monthly or quarterly basis (depending on your batteries and how dirty your panels get).

Thankfully, in addition to being easy to maintain, solar energy has been meeting all of our electrical needs for many years and has been astoundingly trouble free. 🙂

 

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