RV Solar Panel Maintenance – Maximize your Solar Panel Usage

Solar panel maintenance is very necessary to preserve and protect your hard-earned investment on your motorhome or towable RV. By taking care of your solar panels, it ensures your RV gets maximum performance and longevity use for many years.

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This blog article contains affiliate links. Full disclosure here.

RV Solar Panel Maintenance – How to Maximize Your Solar Panels’ Usage on Your RV

Why you should maintain and protect Your RV solar panels

The installation of solar panels on your RV is expensive and time consuming. You will want to see a long term return on this kind of investment.

In other words, if you have a 1000 watt solar system installed on your RV, you should expect 1000 watts of performance from your solar panels.

So, to get maximum return on your solar panel investment, you need to ensure each panel is operating at peak performance; individually and conglomerate. This is the primary reason for keeping your panels clean and maintained.

Your solar panels are exposed to some extremely harsh elements. They toil daily extreme weather conditions.

Repeated morning dew, rain and hot sun can cause a coating to accrue on the panels. Tree sap, dust, pollen and bird droppings also will cause your solar panels to perform at less than peak output.

Those issues are just some of the reasons why you must pay constant attention to your solar panels. By properly maintaining your panels will also allow you to operate your RV’s electric system with the full energy capability of the solar system.

Therefore, you can maximize use of your motorhome’s or camper’s utility and lighting systems, electric appliances and electronic devices. As well, it will maximize recharging your batteries at a faster rate.

Safety First!!

RV Ladder - Accessing Roof on RV

If you hired a professional to install your solar panels on your roof, you may be a bit oblivious to how they are laid out.

But if you self-installed your RV’s rooftop panels, you know exactly where to step and where the wiring is.

Either way, to inspect or perform any maintenance on your roof, you’re going to need to gumption up courage to climb the ladder to get up there.

I can’t stress this enough; when getting on your RV roof; always put safety first!

If you’re up for the task yourself, always have a spotter or a capable adult on the premises should you need assistance.

Always wear sturdy closed-toe, grippy rubber sole shoes. This is not the time to wear your fancy flip flops or sandals.

However, if you are not capable of climbing the ladder, getting onto the roof, stepping over panels or you’re just too afraid of heights, get someone else to do it.

RV Pro Tip: If your RV doesn’t have a hard-mounted ladder, check out our Best Ladders for RV, Motorhome & Camper

When you should service your RV solar panels

The solar panels on your RV, whether permanently mounted or ground deployed, actually only need minimal maintenance.

However, for rooftop solar panels, attention should be tendered often because of what they are exposed to; especially if you use your RV full-time or are parked where more extreme weather elements take a hard toll on your roof.

If your RV solar panels are exposed to snow, ice, or hail you will need to inspect, clean and maintain them more frequently. Though mono crystalline solar panels are extremely durable and should last up to 25 years, weather anomalies can still cause damage to your solar panels.

According to our friends at Renogy, for best results, you should conduct manual cleaning two to four times every year.

That said, based on where RVs wander, extreme elements of weather and the level of dirt and pollution, we inspect and clean our solar panels more frequently.  

What to look for when inspecting your RV solar panels

Always On Liberty RV Solar Panel - SunPower Flex Solar Panel - Dirty and Damaged
Photo by Always On Liberty©

You should visually inspect each solar panel. Look for hazing, cracks, chips, or anything that doesn’t look right on your solar panels. Also, ensure that your solar panel frames are intact. 

While you are visually inspecting and cleaning your RV solar panels, take a gander at the dicor or roof sealant around the solar panel mounts. Look for cracked or dried out sealant that may lead to future water leaks into your RV.

Inspect the solar panel’s hardware for corrosion, rust and missing pieces. If you have tilt mounts for your solar panels, make sure they operate properly. Lubricate all pivot points using silicone grease.

Closely inspect the wiring for the panels. Look for cracking in the wire’s coatings and corrosion around the connection points. Apply a small amount of dielectric grease to all connections.

How to Properly Clean Your RV Solar Panels

There are a couple of ways to protect and maintain your camper’s solar panels.

First, you can clean the panels with using a lint free soft cloth and clean water (no detergent!) to remove any dust, dirt debris, and bird droppings; making sure you do not scratch the surface of the panels.

This will remove most of the detrimental elements that affects performance of your solar panel’s sun absorption.

Once your panels are dust and dirt free, go over them again using a clean, dry soft cloth and our dependable Wash Wax All.

This is our preferred method to clean and protect our solar panels’ surfaces.

These are great products used in collaboration to get the ultimate layer of protection. The panels are left with a UV protective coating that helps repel water; making it harder for dust, pollen, acid rain and bird droppings to stick to them.

Remember solar panels are manufactured with a softer surface material.

So, whatever you do, never use any type of scratching cloths and scrubbers or use abrasive or harsh cleaning detergents as they may damage your solar panels.

Now, if you’ve neglected your solar panels or they have accrued oxidation film, you will need to do a little more work. Since we take extreme care of our RV solar panels, we’ve not run into that.

That said, you can use a good, safe surface polish to address those hazing issues on your panels. It will remove fine scratches and oxidation.

RV Pro Tip: Check out the only RV cleaning and polishing products we use and why: Waterless Wash Wax ALL for RVs, Boats and Automobiles

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Other solar panel maintenance issues you need to be aware of

Always On Liberty RV Solar Panel - Maintenance and Repair
Photo by Always On Liberty©

While you are inspecting and cleaning your RV solar panels, also take a gander at the dicor or roof sealant around the solar panel mounts.

Look for cracked or dried out sealant that may lead to future water leaks into your RV.

Inspect the solar panel’s hardware for corrosion, rust and missing pieces. If you have tilt mount brackets for your solar panels make sure they operate properly. Lubricate the pivot points.

Closely inspect the wiring for the panels. Look for cracking in the wire’s coatings and corrosion around the connection points. Apply a small amount of dielectric grease to all connections.

Other Benefits of Maintaining Your RV Solar Panels

Solar Panel Maintenance - RV Solar Panel Brackets
Photo by Always On Liberty©

Aside from the benefit of increased watts and energy production for exceptional RV boondocking experiences, another benefit of maintaining your solar panels is you will increase their life.

Routine inspections and careful maintenance and cleaning allows you to identify potential problems before disaster strikes.

A well-maintained solar system and panels will provide reliable and renewable energy for years to come.

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RV Pro Tip: Contemplating installing a solar system on your small RV or Van? Check out our Winnebago View Solar Upgrades & Lithium Battery Replacements for ideas!

Wrapping up RV solar panel maintenance

As you see, there’s really nothing over-extenuating to cleaning and maintaining your RV solar panels. Using the sun for energy is an awesome way to power your RV while your boondocking or camping off grid.

With these simple maintenance tips, your solar system should operate at peak performance for many years. Thus, enhancing your RV experience or lifestyle wherever you choose to boondock or camp off grid!

RV PRO TIP: Have a Winnebago View or Navion OR other RV brand manufacturer Class C Motorhome? Check out our 30+ Winnebago View Upgrades & Modifications * For Navion too!* for ideas!

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