Roundtable Event: Electrifying Leichhardt Bus Depot

Last week, at Australia's first Solar and Storage LIVE event in Brisbane, Smart hosted a dynamic roundtable event which showcased the journey behind Australia's largest Electric Bus Depot project. A great example of inno...

We’ve seen an explosion of interest in solar car shades - also known as solar carports or car parks - in the past five years. It makes sense: for businesses who require more generation capacity than their roof or available ground can provide and who wish to improve the amenity of their customer car park, solar car shades are a neat and affordable solution.  
If your business has taken the plunge and invested in solar car shades for your parking lot, you’ll want to maintain them properly to ensure they remain as efficient and visually appealing as they did on day one. Here’s how. 


Solar Car Shade Maintenance 


Solar car shades and commercial panels require similar maintenance - the main objective is to ensure that the intricate electrical system and components run efficiently to capture sunlight and generate energy that could be utilised around the facility, with four basic functions:  

  1. Monitoring: Regularly monitor the solar car shades system's performance and energy production. 
  2. Auditing: Conduct periodic audits to assess the system's efficiency and identify any issues. 
  3. Rectification: Addressing and rectifying any problems or malfunctions that arise. 
  4. Reporting: Maintaining detailed records and reports on system performance, maintenance tasks, and any necessary repairs or upgrades. 

Each of these functions includes a more extensive set of activities to ensure systems run properly and efficiently, including performance monitoring and diagnostics, energy forecasting, monthly reporting, warranty administration, site visits and preventative maintenance such as module cleaning.  


Prolonging the Lifespan of Solar Car Shades


With an average lifespan of 25 years, the good news is that these structures are designed to be durable and low maintenance. The panels are strategically installed at a 10-degree tilt, allowing rainwater to effectively wash away any accumulated dust and debris, minimising the need for frequent manual cleaning.  

Maintenance plays a vital role in maximising the lifespan of any solar shade system. It is recommended to enhance your maintenance strategy by incorporating advanced monitoring systems, such as those provided by our Smart Active team. These systems enable remote diagnosis of any performance issues, ensuring prompt identification of faults and allowing for timely rectification of the system. 

To further maximise longevity, it is essential to schedule comprehensive annual electrical maintenance and inspection performed by a qualified engineer and electrician. This inspection involves meticulous checking of all electrical boards, connections, and wiring to identify any signs of wear or damage that may compromise the system's performance or safety.


What If It Is Not Properly Maintained? 


Neglecting maintenance can have significant consequences. Although rainwater can wash away dust and debris, certain factors can hinder its natural self-cleaning abilities. In some cases, not all debris can be washed away naturally (such as stubborn bird droppings) or if your site is located in a dry region, manual cleaning becomes necessary. 

Without timely maintenance, the system's performance can be compromised. Accumulated dust and debris can lead to decreased energy production and reduced efficiency. Moreover, neglecting maintenance increases the risk of potential system malfunctions, which may require costly repairs or even the replacement of components or the entire system. 

To avoid these issues, periodic cleaning becomes crucial, especially in cases of heavy dust accumulation or when natural cleaning is insufficient.  

Remember, investing in proper maintenance today will save you from costly repairs and ensure the long-term efficiency of your solar car shade system. 


Frequently Asked Questions


Q: Is professional cleaning worth it? 

A: Investing in professional cleaning services is your best bet to ensure a safe and effective cleaning process. It is essential to hire trained professionals with advanced equipment to prevent potential panel damage and preserve the integrity of solar car shades. Never attempt to clean the shades yourself or assign untrained employees due to safety concerns. 


Q: Does it matter if the panels aren’t cleaned regularly? 

In a word, yes. Dirt and dust build-up on solar cells can reduce their energy output by 3-5 per cent, according to recent research released by the International Energy Agency PV Power Systems Programme. In addition, the panels comprising your solar car shades – unlike most rooftop solar systems – are usually visible from the ground, which means customers can view their condition at any time. 


Q: Are solar car shades waterproof? 

A: No, solar car shades are not completely waterproof. While some options have limited waterproofing capabilities, premium solutions offer full waterproofing by housing the solar panels within a waterproof pod. At Smart Commercial Solar, we provide varying degrees of weatherproofing depending on customer needs. 


Q: What shortens the life of solar car shades? 

A: Factors such as lack of maintenance, exposure to harsh environmental conditions, physical damage, and poor installation practices can shorten the lifespan of solar car shades. Neglecting proactive monitoring and not addressing issues promptly can all contribute to decreased performance and functionality over time. 


Q: What should I look for in a service provider? 

A: Your best option when choosing a service provider for solar car shade maintenance is often the company who designed and installed the system. They’ll already be familiar with the structure and the technology, and likely be operating in your local area. If you’re looking elsewhere, we suggest looking for a provider with experience in solar maintenance, ensuring they are knowledgeable about the specific needs of solar car shades. Check for certifications or accreditations that demonstrate their professionalism and adherence to industry standards and consider their customer reviews to gauge their reliability. 


Looking for a solution to maintain your solar car shades professionally? Talk to a member of our Smart Active team today! 


Smart Active


Written by
Smart Team

The Smart Marketing Team

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