Owners of solar systems, whether on RVs, trailers, barns, workshops, or homes, often ask, “How can I extend the life of my solar power system?” or “What are some tips to protect my PV system?” In this article, we will review everything you should know about protecting your PV system and extending its life.
How long do solar systems last?
In order to find out efficient ways to protect your PV system, first, you should know how long generally a PV system last. Many people think that Solar panels and other components of any PV system are made to last for a very long time and don’t need any protection.
Indeed, Solar panels are made to last for a long time, usually 20 to 25 years or more. However, this does not imply that they will continue to produce power from solar energy at the same rate for their entire existence. Solar panels typically diminish energy output by 0.5-0.8% annually.
On the other hand, one of the other crucial components of each Solar power system is the battery bank. There are different types of batteries, such as LiFePO4, lead acid and AGM batteries, with different lifespans and quality, and all of them need proper protection in order to last for an expected long life span. In this article, we will discuss some tips and tricks to extend the life span of your solar panel systems.
Most Efficient ways to protect solar panels
Solar panels are an investment that should be appropriately protected to avoid unexpected costs in the not-too-distant future. Here are some easy steps to help you extend your solar panels' lifetime.
Keep your solar panels Clean
To maximize the panels' potential to generate electricity, ensure all debris is cleared from their surface. Additionally, check that there are no sharp things, such as pebbles or other materials, near your solar panels that could potentially harm them.
It is crucial to brush off the snow before it melts for people who live in snowy climates and cold weather, such as in Canada. Removing the leftovers of snow from your solar panels helps you avoid any possible damage to cells by forming ice and causing them to crack. It is easier to make it a routine to check your solar panels once every few weeks and if required, use mild soap and water to clean them.
In the event of severe weather, cover your panels.
In order to protect your solar panels from rain, sleet, hail, and snow during any severe weather, be sure to cover solar cells with a tarp. You must be aware of weather forecasts so that you can prepare in advance. These steps can help safeguard your panel from damage and provide the most effective energy generation.
Moreover, you should be cautious about any temperature swings because they can cause serious issues for your solar panels. Extreme weather and temperature fluctuation without any protection on your panels can lower efficiency and shorten their lifespan.
Use Sealant Products to Fill up Any Gaps Near the Edges of Your Solar Panels
Solar panels' lifespan might be shortened by any physical damage. Therefore, it is crucial to make sure that there are no gaps in the panels because they could let various things, such as dust and insects, inside, harming or reducing the performance of your system and shortening its lifespan overall.
It is highly recommended to have regular inspections for your PV module as well. An annual review for repairs or maintenance of solar arrays can help stop a minor issue from growing into a costly repair or replacement bill.
Use some backup batteries
Last but not least, using some spare backup batteries can be a reasonable idea for those who have a PV system on an off-grid house for two reasons. First of all, this will reduce the load on your solar panels and consequently extend their lifetime.
Furthermore, a backup battery is a helpful option during the outage since it allows you to store any excess power and use it in the moment of need. So in this way, you can store extra power and protect your solar panels by reducing the load on them.
How can I protect my battery banks?
One of the essential parts of any PV system is its battery bank, and you should always protect them from any possible damage. On the other hand, investments like solar power panels, because of their initial costs, need to be protected; to be able to use them for a very long time. Solar panels and batteries are connected, so keeping your batteries in good condition is critical. Follow these recommendations to increase the lifespan of your batteries for your solar power system to get the most out of them.
Swap your batteries
If you have a medium or a large battery bank, rotate the batteries in the bank from time to time. Batteries at the center of the bank might not charge as well as batteries on the outer side. This issue can be balanced out by occasionally rotating the batteries.
Don’t leave your batteries uncharged
Be sure to keep your charging device on so the batteries can keep charging. Batteries can become harmed if they are not charged for an extended period of time.
The other important thing you should keep in mind is monitoring the state of charge of your battery bank. Properly charge your battery and observe this can be easy with battery monitors. Check our previous blog post to get more information about battery monitors and the factors you should consider before buying them.
Your batteries will be intentionally overcharged during equalization. Although overcharging may sound undesirable for your batteries, it can actually be highly beneficial. This is because the regular cycling process might cause individual batteries' cells to charge unevenly over time.
The most important question is: How can you ensure that overcharging process that you are doing does not harm your battery instead of extending its life span? Solar Charge Controller or MPPT is a device to help you in this regard. In the following, we will discuss what a solar charge controller is and what is the best option available on the market.
Why do you need Solar Charge Controller?
To answer this commonly asked question, first, we should review some basics about MPPT(Maximum Power Point Tracker) Charge controllers. As the name implies, solar charge controllers(MPPT charge controllers) serve as battery chargers by connecting solar panels and batteries. This device is responsible for regulating the battery charging process and ensuring that the battery is charged correctly or that it is not overcharged.
As an example, the majority of "12 Volt" solar panels produce between 16V and 20V, So without regulation, the batteries would be overcharged and suffer damage. This damage mainly occurs because many batteries require between 14V and 14.5V to reach full charge. Having said that, it is pretty apparent that regardless of the type of your PV system, you should consider a suitable solar charge controller.
What is the best Solar Charge controller available on the market?
There are many available MPPTs with various features and quality from different brands. Our experts in Volts Energies in Canada has been tested quite a few MPPTs from different brands, and we found Victron Energy MPPTs an ideal option regardless of the size of your PV system.
The best thing about Victron Energy MPPT is that they offer a wide range of Solar charge controllers, and you can find the best option based on your solar power system size. Victron Energy generally provides two types of MPPT; BlueSolar and SmartSolar Charge controllers. The highest PV open circuit voltage is indicated by the first number in the names of their MPPT models, such as SmartSolar MPPT 100/50. The second value indicates the maximum charging current, 50.
Moreover, Victron Energy SmartSolar MMPTs have Bluetooth Built-in connected to the VictronConnect Mobile app. This app is linked to most other accessories like your Inverter, Shunt and more, which enables you to monitor your Battery bank and optimize it from anywhere at any time.
When looking beyond the Bluetooth Built-in feature, the Victron has the best output voltage accuracy. The average difference between its battery voltage measurement and data from the multimeter was only 0.075 volts. Based on our experts' results, the other charge controllers were off by about 0.1-0.2 volts or more.
For your batteries to be charged to the correct voltage levels, battery voltage accuracy is crucial. If it's too far away, your batteries might be mildly overcharged or over-discharged on a regular basis, which would reduce their lifespan. For getting a consultant about which size and type of Solar Charge controller are suitable for you, visit our website or contact us, and our experts will help you to find the best option.
Protecting your PV system and its components like your solar panels, battery bank, and accessories helps you protect your investment properly. If you have any further questions or need additional information, feel free to contact us. Our specialist in Volts Energies in Canada will be happy to assist you and help you build your desired PV system, which lasts for a long time.