Running automatically and virtually silently, it can be easy to forget solar panels are even there. As self-sustaining as they are, however, the efficiency of your residential solar panels can benefit from some basic maintenance you can do right at home. Here, we describe three tips to help your solar panels last.  1. Keep them clean The clearer the glass on your solar panels is, the more unobstructed space it will have to interact with the sun. If you live near a construction site, dusty desert, or any other area with a high particle content in the air you may need to clean your panels more frequently. If you notice your panels are covered in a dusty film, it's best to clean them right away to get their efficiency up as soon as possible. When cleaning the panels it is critical not to scratch them. Using cleaning sponges or abrasive soaps can damage the cells unintentionally, so it is best to steer clear of them. In fact, cleaning your panels can be as simple as spraying them down with a hose. You can also attach a soft cloth to a long pole, like a pool skimmer, to reach panels that are higher up. Most importantly, if you must get on the roof to clean them, be careful. It can get slippery when you start washing the panels.  2. Keep them out of the shade It might seem obvious, but photovoltaic solar cells perform far less effectively when they are obstructed from the sun. Depending on what kind of trees grow near your house, you may want to trim back branches that cover your panels. If the tree is not on your property, however, be sure to check with your neighbor or local government officials before cutting it back.This is especially important considering shade on a solar panel actually exponentially decreases its efficacy, so even a small obstruction can reduce that panel's output significantly.  3. Keep an eye on them Like with any home appliance, simply keeping an eye on your solar panels will make you more likely to notice when something is wrong, and catching any problems that come up sooner rather than later will save you more money. If you are in the habit of taking a look at the system every so often you will be more likely to notice if something like a light goes out on the inverter display, and get it fixed as quickly as possible.  For more questions about home solar panel installation, contact us at SolarMax Technology. 

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