Solar Operations and Maintenance: A Guide for Solar Contractors

When considering the growth of your solar services company, solar operations and maintenance should be top of mind: Preventative and regularly scheduled maintenance can help you avoid operational and financial stress. 

Over the past decade, the cost of installing solar has plummeted—dropping by more than 60%. As a result, solar has been key in adding new electricity capacity to the grid. In 2021, 46% of all new electric power capacity came from solar. Now is the time to expand your solar operation. With expansion, however, comes the need for maintenance planning. 

What to Know About Growing a Solar Services Company

As you consider growing your solar business, there are two things you need to keep in mind: knowing your product, and marketing. Other than general knowledge that can help guide your marketing efforts, you also need to be aware of changes to products in the solar market, keep up-to-date on trends in the market, and keep your website current. 

It’s also imperative to consider system design and how construction is to be executed. As competition increases in the solar market, it’s important to pivot into flexible designs that are deployable across a number of sites—much more than just roofs. A couple of ways to do this is plan a system based on prefabricated components, and use aerial site assessments 

Another factor to consider is how construction will be carried out: Planning effectively prevents cost and time overruns. Make sure you have the tools you need to monitor progress, cost, and initiatives to increase productivity. Keeping a close eye on your construction roadmap and performance indicators lays the foundation for success.

Don’t Let Solar Maintenance Costs Spiral Out of Control

Choose an accessible CMMS that streamlines maintenance data.

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Stable growth requires maintenance, and maintenance and repairs in solar is certainly no exception. Solar maintenance costs can be greatly reduced with the right planning, scheduling, and level of care.

The Impact of Solar Operations and Maintenance on Services Growth

As your solar company continues to expand, letting maintenance—like when solar panels need to be repaired or replaced—fall to the wayside can prove costly.

Asset managers know better than most the importance of operations and maintenance (O&M), and so should you: There are three elements of solar system maintenance you should keep in mind: 

  • Preventative maintenance: Regularly scheduled maintenance helps prevent problems before they occur, such as breakdowns and loss of production.
  • Corrective maintenance: When a breakdown occurs, immediate repairs minimize production loss and financial impact. 

Condition-based maintenance: Data-informed decision-making helps guide repairs. This targets areas predicted to break down and spotlight where resources need to be focused.

Learn how a CMMS helps with infrastructure management with these blogs:

Maintaining commercial solar projects requires these efforts on a large scale, which can be time-consuming. Some of the activities required for maintenance might look like this: 

  • Array cleaning
  • System repairs
  • Live monitoring and alert response
  • Weed and vegetation clearing

Asset management is also integral to solar farm maintenance—primarily administrative work focused on a return on investment (ROI).). Asset management monitors system performance, regulatory and compliance, and risk assessment. 

Inefficient Solar Power Maintenance Can Cost You

If solar panels are not repaired in a timely fashion, or you don’t replace aging equipment in time, your bottom line is going to take a hit. Take care of your equipment and implement best-practice processes, and the initial cost of maintenance is more than covered by seamless uptime. 

But with all of these maintenance considerations, you may be wondering how often you need to maintain your solar panels. 

Solar Operations and Maintenance
Source: National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL)

How Often Do Solar Panels Need Maintenance?

How Often Do Solar Panels Need Maintenance?

One of the key indicators your solar energy system needs maintenance is a reduction in energy output. Otherwise, the appeal of solar is in how little actual maintenance is required, but that doesn’t mean you should fall behind on preventive or corrective maintenance. Throughout the year, your upkeep should include:

  • Annual inspection: As the name states, once a year, you should inspect solar panels to ensure proper functionality.
  • Cleaning: The number of times you clean off your panels is dependent on your environment. Integrating your monitoring software with your maintenance can ensure your cleaning trips are done only when necessary. At a minimum, utility scale sites should be cleaned a couple times a year.
  • Additional maintenance: If you notice your solar panel systems aren’t producing the power they should, this is the time to schedule additional diagnostic and maintenance work.
  • Inverters. Inverters are often the cause of performance issues. Pay particular attention to these assets. 

Solar panel maintenance generates data that needs to be easily accessible and readable. This is exactly where a computerized maintenance management system (CMMS) is a huge benefit.

CMMS Benefits in Solar Power Maintenance

60Hertz Engery’s CMMS is an accessible, on-the-go software that features custom and standard forms for data collection, unlimited activity tracking, and an offline mode that makes access easy for field crews. 

Whether you’re growing your solar company or looking to streamline solar power maintenance, 60Hertz’s CMMS is an efficient O&M services and data management solution. Schedule a call with us today. 

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