Know How to Clean Solar Panels for Optimum Performance
Once you get your solar panels installed, you will find them fairly maintenance free. Many factors affect the energy your solar panels produce, cleaning them is the easiest and best solution. Over time solar panels will get covered with pollution, dust, grime, and bird droppings. These obstructions block sunlight and will reduce power production. According to National Renewable Energy solar energy loss can range as high as 25% in some areas. When solar panels are not cleaned, an increase in power generation on the inverters is immediately seen.
How Often Should Solar Panels Be Cleaned?
It really depends on where you live and the weather conditions. Solar panels installed in windy and dusty areas may require more frequent inspection and cleaning. Some areas need a weekly washing, while other areas can go every other month – review your solar manufacturer’s specifications.
How to Clean Solar Panels
Each solar panel is different, so make sure to review the instructions from the solar manufacturer first before cleaning the panels; some panels are sensitive to certain chemicals, and others may have fragile components that you need to be aware of.
Inspect the solar panels on a periodic basis. Before washing, make sure that there aren’t any cracks and ensure all connections are tight. If there are damaged wires or cracks, it might be time to call an electrical technician.
Remove any debris on the solar panel. Trim back trees or plants that may be blocking the sun’s energy to the solar panels.
Fill a bucket with warm water and with a cleaning solution. Green cleaning supplies do a great job on glass and solar panels. Here’s is a simple non-toxic recipe for glass cleaner: 1/4 cup vinegar, 1/2 teaspoon liquid non-abrasive soap or detergent, and 2 cups of water in a spray bottle. In drier areas when there is water rationing – the solar panels can be cleaned fairly well using an air-hose.
Use a non-abrasive cleaning sponge or towel to wash the glass. Get the glass clean and clear as possible – don’t scratch it.
Remove remaining water with a high quality squeegee to avoid hard water mineral build up.
Use a lint free cloth to dry the edges of the panel.
There are companies that will clean solar panels for you. If you choose to use a solar panel cleaning service be sure they are insured – in case there are any accidents.
Keep a Record of Your Solar Panels’ Performance
The sun is shining brightly, it’s the middle of the day, and the meter is spinning forward; either you have a lot of appliances consuming energy or your solar panels are not doing their job. Compare the output of your solar panels before and after cleaning. When output starts to fall again, it’s probably time for another quick cleaning. A daily accounting will help you determine if your system is working properly or maybe its just not producing what it used to. Make a note for particularly cloudy or overcast days, because those days will affect the results.
Solar Monitoring Systems
If it is too much work to maintain a record, there are variety of monitoring formats that will display readings. Have a monitoring system as a panel in your house, download data to your desktop, view your solar data from a website, or from a mobile device – like a smartphone.
Automated Self-Cleaning Solar Technology or Cleaning Robots
For solar panels in hard to reach areas, automatic cleaning systems and cleaning robots are a popular option. Most of these cleaning systems work like windshield wipers, brushing dust away from the solar panels with a spray hose and mechanical arm. Consider self-cleaning panels for large commercial or public utility sites, especially those in remote, dry, or hazardous locations.
Consider Using Solar Roof Tiles Instead of Solar Panels
BIPV (Building Integrated PV) used as a replacement of conventional construction materials from different parts of the building’s exterior (skylights, façades, windows, or roofs), they will protect and produce electricity. As a result of new thin-film solar cell technologies you won’t need to bother with cleaning your solar panels.
Do not put too much pressure on solar panels they are fairly delicate and can crack. Solar panels can break from walking and kneeling on them. Be extra safe when working from high places. Consider wearing a harness or other safety device to catch you in the event of a fall.
Find solar technology bewildering? Best way to choose solar equipment in Northern Arizona is to contact Pur Solar, we can look at your site and find the exact design and products that will work best for the conditions you have.