3. Implement Maintenance Routines
Visual check of the solar panels (Source: Lennart Woltering)
Once the maintenance plan is in place and the responsible persons identified, the maintenance should become a routine.
Critical regular maintenance activities are:
1. Check daily if the system is working. If the pump is not working:
- check the water source and pipes (any dirt, blockage, enough water?);
- check the electronics (any burned parts, loose wires, emergency lights?).
2. Inspect the system once a week with respect to:
- energy generated by PV system;
- pump performance (pumping rate);
- condition of water source (purity of water);
- condition of controller and electronics (visible signs of malfunctioning);
- blockage of drip emitters;
- condition of water storage facility and pipes (leaks, water level);
- condition of solar panels and their mounting system (stability, cleanliness).
3. Clean solar panels every two to four weeks:
- clean water and a little scrubbing with a cloth covered sponge or soft brush should remove the most persistent grime;
- clean in the early morning or late evening, when panels are cool;
- do not step or walk on the panels as they could be damaged.
Note: Hot panels should not be sprayed with cold water – they might crack!
4. Throughout the year (every two to three months) the PV system should be checked thoroughly so that:
- no plants grow close to the panel, the mounting structure, water source, controller, junction box, etc.;
- there is no shade on the panels (plants, poles, fences etc.), so as to permit maximum radiation;
- the fencing of the solar array is not damaged;
- the mounting structures are stable.
In addition, the reservoir should be cleaned and the irrigation system should be flushed regularly.
Note: Inspect your system always after strong winds, hail storms, lightning or earthquakes have occurred in your region.
After the first experience with a particular maintenance plan, the timing and frequency of maintenance can be adapted to suit the local conditions and capacities of the producer.
Note: Call your technology provider (panels, pumping, and controller) or electrician (electronics) who installed the system for help – this should be part of the service contract.
- Producers /producer groups;
- Agricultural advisors;
- Technology and service providers (electricians, companies providing solar powered systems).
Important Issues & Decisions
- Maintaining an SPIS does not require advanced technical skills and the overall effort is relatively low, when compared to other technologies.
- It is important to establish inspection and maintenance routines and to schedule them as part of the work plan of the farm.