How Dirt & Pollution Can Damage Solar Cells
Not only will dirt and airborne pollutants affect the production of solar panels, but they will also harm the solar cells themselves. A conventional and regular cell shaded by dust gatherings will act as a resistance to the power generated by other cells and this, in turn, causes the shaded cell to heat up and damage the cell..
Many solar systems are not independently connected to a microinverter and rely on the surrounding cells to maintain solar productivity. SunPower cells, however, are all independently connected to the microinverter and the cells around one another are not affected in any way by each other. If one cell were to be shaded or covered in dust, the others will continue working fine without damaging the shaded cell. But the production of that one cell will still be affected by the dust.
If You Want Pay For Clean Panels Please Go Ahead
If you want to pay to have your solar panels cleaned, please go right ahead. Dont let me stop you. Just be aware that most of the time it will cost more money than it is worth.
I have no desire to put solar panel cleaning companies out of business, so if you decide against having your panels cleaned, please consider hiring them to do something else you will find worthwhile. For example, some solar panel cleaners also do windows.
For those interested in cleaning their solar panels themselves, regardless of whether or not it makes economic sense, I will write an article on the best way to go about it very soon .
Answer #: Yes And You Can Do It Yourself
Bird droppings and other dirt agents can affect your solar panel’s performance, especially if your panels lie truly horizontal on the roof. That’s where washing the panels becomes important, though it doesn’t have to be a thorough or routine cleaning in many cases.
As we suggested to the customer with the white powder on their panels, cleaning your solar panels is usually a relatively easy task. All you need to do is to spray the panels with average-pressure water from a well-angled garden hose while standing on the ground.
If you want extra cleaning power, a long-handled squeegee or soft brush plus a medium-pressure hose nozzle can work wonders. With the nozzle, directing the spray will become easier. You’ll then wipe off the water using the squeegee for maximum electricity production. This approach provides even more cleaning power, but it does depend on the angle of your roof, roof height, and panel placement, because not everyone will be able to reach their roof, even with a long handle.
Q: What Are The Benefits Of Having Your Solar Panels Cleaned By A Professional As Opposed To Cleaning Them Yourself
Tap water and chemicals can leave a residue on your panels that can inadvertently encourage dirt to accumulate. This is one of the reasons that having your panels cleaned professionally is a good idea. Using a de-ionised water system to give an effectively spot free finish that is more resistant to becoming dirty will also give you a better result with a longer-lasting impact. De-ionised water systems are not generally worth the investment for individual homeowners who plan to use them only for window cleaning, but a good professional cleaner will have one as a matter of course.
Another part of having a trained professional do the job is that they can check other aspects that can affect the health and performance of your system. These include potential fire safety issues, cracks, hot spots and nests from uninvited guests like birds, rats and possums. Detecting issues like crazing and delamination are also essential to to ensure a system running well.
Another reason to go professional is safety: Getting on your roof can be a dangerous business, especially without good safety gear. Without the right gear and experience, you could put yourself at risk or potentially injure yourself .
A wasp nest underneath a solar panel.
Find out more about Solar Panel Cleaning and Costs:
How To Clean Solar Panels On Your Roof In Australia
While keeping your solar panel clean is generally a good idea, you dont have to clean it every time you see grime building up. Start by monitoring your solar panel output from month to month. If theres a noticeable decrease in panel performance or you see a lot of dirt build-up on your PV cells, then it might be time to clean. Otherwise, you can hold off cleaning until you really need to do it.
If youve decided to clean your solar panels yourself, you need to know how to do it properly. You can clean your solar panels with these six steps.
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What Are The Dangers When Cleaning Solar Panels
In the process of cleaning your solar panels, you will inevitably be touching them and getting oils from your skin on them. This is why its important to wash your hands before starting this task so that there are no contaminants left behind and make sure to dry off the panel with a rag when done!
The only other danger would be scratching up the surface of photovoltaic cells which could lead to dust building up over time as well as decreased performance in general for those particular cells. Again, stainless steel brushes should not be used at all because they can scratch these delicate cells!
As for personal safety, you are up high so you must be careful not to fall off or step up onto the panel, which could lead to injury.
If youre going to be up pretty high you may want to consider scaffolding or a ladder to get up onto the panels without risking injury.
Another option is to use a harness and rope to get up and down from the panels. Some people may find these more cumbersome or time-consuming, but theyll greatly improve your personal safety.
Find Ways To Save Energy Around Your Home
During daylight hours, youâll be generating electricity even on cloudy days, but in the evening youâll be using electricity from the mains. That means itâs still worth looking for canny ways to cut down your electricity use â these easy ideas for saving energy at home should help get you started.
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Tips For Maintenance Of Solar Panels
- Keep solar panels out of shade as energy production becomes inefficient when they are kept from absorbing any sunlight.
- Keep an eye on the solar panels and make sure the inverters are flashing green lights. If they are not flashing, you are losing money by no longer compensating for your electricity use.
- Document the day-to-day performance to improve solar panel maintenance. It is important to write down how much energy has been produced at a consistent time every day and make special note of dates where it is very cloudy. Some of the results will be inconsistent.
- Monitoring systems help you see how much you are benefiting the environment and how much CO2 you are emitting into the atmosphere. They can also help you know how much you could benefit from the feed-in tariff scheme.
- You can also see information about your solar panels servicing on a wall-mounted display when you are at home.
- If you have no time in cleaning solar panels, you can install automated cleaners that work like sprinkler systems or even schedule appointments with solar panel cleaning companies.
- Luckily, because solar panels have no moving parts that could be affected by rust or break down, solar power maintenance may not be needed.
Understand The Need Of Cleaning The Solar Panels
You have to clean your solar panels because they can get dirt from different types of garbage.
An unclean solar panel will produce less energy, and it will affect the whole energy production process.
Solar panels absorb sunlight from the sun and convert it into electrical energy. So, the surface of the solar panels should be cleaned to get sufficient sunlight.
On the other hand, solar panels can produce up to 20% of electricity, and it is the most efficient production rate.
But, if your solar panels are filled with dust, then the production rate will decrease to 15%.
It will bother you to operate all the home appliances with less energy.
A clean surface will absorb more sunlight and produce more electricity. It will make the system energy proficient and provide hassle-free service for a long time.
Similarly, solar panels contain 25 years of warranty, if you dont clean the panels for a long time, then it will be difficult to get service for this long duration.
Try to compare your solar panels with other appliances, or devices, that require cleaning. In the same way, solar panels need cleaning and maintenance.
However, a solar system gets power from the sun through solar panels. It is necessary to clean the solar panel for removing unwanted dust from the surface.
A clean solar panel can produce energy even on less sunlight. It will capture sunlight without any obstacle.
We hope you can understand the need for solar panels cleaning.
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Everything You Need To Know About Cleaning Solar Panels
Solar panels require direct exposure to sunlight to function.
The better the sunlight exposure your solar installation gets, the greater amount of energy is produced.
So it is reasonable to hold a grudge against dirty solar panels when your profits are shaded by dirt and dust.
We will share some tips about cleaning solar panels and how you can keep solar production high with minimum efforts, so you can keep your installation performing well throughout the panel lifetime.
Can You Use Soap To Clean Solar Panels
Yes and no. Some types of soap can damage the glass, while others are mild enough to not cause an issue. When washing, a combination of warm water and dish soap is preferable.
However, some solar companies discourage the use of soap because they say that it leaves a residue that shades the panel, just like the dirt that was washed off. Certain soaps are also said to encourage the fast buildup of dirt because it causes stickiness on the panel surface. This is why dish soap is preferred .
How Location Affects Solar Panel Cleaning
Where solar panels are located also has a bearing on how to clean solar panels and how often they need to be cleaned to remain efficient.
As a general rule, they should be cleaned at least once or twice a year. But in some locations, they may benefit from more frequent cleaning.
- Polluted areas. PV panels installed in areas with high levels of pollution, especially near factories, highways, or airports, will experience high levels of atmospheric grime and oil buildup.
- Wooded areas. Installations with many trees nearby are likely to have more leaves drop on the panels, obstructing the absorption of sunlight. Trees also attract birds that could result in an accumulation of droppings that obscure the PV cells and damage the surface due to acidity, reducing efficiency.
- Deserts. Regions such as the Middle East and US Southwest with dry and dusty climates see larger accumulations of sand on PV panels that block light and scratch the surface. In areas like California or Australia, ash from wildfires can quickly fall on panels in large clumps.
In addition, the angle of the rooftop where PV panels are installed has a bearing on how often they need to be cleaned. Panels that are installed at an angle receive more cleaning from rainwater runoff than flat-mounted panels, where water can collect in pools and leave behind a residue.
How Often Should You Have Your Solar Panels Cleaned
People who have solar whether its residential solar panels or commercial solar panels all have one thing in common: They want to make sure their solar panels produce as much energy as possible. After all, solar panels are a big investment, so making sure to make the most of them is a high priority for all solar owners.
The most efficient way to make sure you optimize your solar panel production is by keeping your panels clean. So if youre asking yourself do I need to clean my solar panels?, the answer is YES.
Lets start with why you have to clean your panels
Its actually quite simple: if your solar panels are dirty, they produce less electricity and that defeats the purpose of you getting solar panels in the first place because your electricity bill will then be higher than you expected. The dirt can actually get so bad that it steals 30 percent of the energy the solar panels are in fact capable of producing. So solar panel cleaning should absolutely be a high priority for solar owners.
We come across many people who simply are not aware of the importance of keeping their solar panels clean. They do not know the effect soiling has on the productivity, so they dont make it a priority. As a result, they are not getting the most out of their panels and some even add more panels to their system later on to make up for lost production but thats a costly solution, said Matthew Casey, CEO of RST CleanTech Solutions, North America.
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My Recommended Cleaning Products For Solar Panels
It is essential to clean the solar system using the correct cleaning equipment. Though the panels glass is strong, abrasive materials can scratch and damage the surface, thus reducing its performance or destroying the module.
Solar panels installed on the ground can be washed using a sponge or a very soft brush. For those located on the roof, a soft brush is advised, coupled with a long extension to reach the roof. This makes the work safe and easy, as its from the ground.
What About Solar Panel Maintenance
Apart from cleaning them, when needed, is there anything else you need to do to maintain your solar panels?
According to energy advice website The Switch, solar panels require little ongoing maintenance. This is mainly because they donât have any moving parts, so general wear and tear is minimal .
Because of this, solar panels can last up to 30 years before they need to be replaced, although many solar panel suppliers will provide annual service checks for peace of mind.
Maintain Your New Solar System With Green Convergence
A SunPower system is a great investment. Once you begin saving with solar, you dont need to worry about constant maintenance with SunPowers 25-year warranty – even though overtime we do recommend keeping your panels clean to maximize your highest performance. Investing in a house comes with certain upkeep costs, investing in a car has certain maintenance costs, and investing in a solar system naturally comes with certain polishing procedures.
Don’t lose out on efficiency.
When You Might Need To Clean Solar Panels
Some exceptions might be if you notice excessive bird droppings, after heavy dust storms in places like Arizona or when you live directly next to or downwind from major highways, factories or agricultural fields. In these instances, its possible to generate enough grime to call for cleaning.
Leaves in the fall and heavy snow in the winter can also require action, but you can easily remove these with a long roof rake like this.
Most snow will melt fairly quickly as the dark solar panels attract heat and sunlight. And snow actually cleans your panels as it melts, taking any dust and dirt with it as it slides off the slick module surface. Read more about solar and snow here.
Some of the sunniest places also dont get much rain, which does a good job cleaning panels. If you can see a thick film accumulated on your panels or notice significant a dip in efficiency, it might be time for a wash.
Also Check: Why Do Solar Panels Face South
How To Clean Solar Panels
Cleaning solar panels, for the most part, is not that difficult. The most difficult part might actually be having the tools to reach the entire surface area of the panel, and this will depend on how big your panels are.
Depending on the extent of the mess on your panels, you might not need to do much to wash them. This is why we recommend that you first evaluate the panels. Check them out, and see the extent of the debris, dirt, and substance build-up on the panels .
From there, decide how to clean the panels:
Is Vinegar Safe For Cleaning Solar Panels
If you use domestic cleaning types of vinegar to clean your solar panels, you will find they are completely safe.
You can expect domestic vinegar to contain around 58% acetic acid by volume. Commercial preparations can be much stronger and should be avoided.
Even domestic vinegar is too strong for direct cleaning without dilution. To get the best results and avoid any damage to the protective coating on your panels, it is important to mix two cups of de-ionized water with ¼ cup vinegar.
Although some people add a few drops of detergent to their vinegar mix, this is not recommended. Detergents can leave behind streaks. The panel needs to be sparkling clean to work at its prime.
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What Steps To Clean Solar Panels
You can clean your solar panels by yourself. To do this successfully, you have to follow some steps such as turn off the system and disconnect other connections, select a cool day, and try to clean from the ground.
Besides, you have to ensure the water only on the surface and use soft cloth along with sufficient safety equipment.
We are presenting a step by step guide to clean solar panels. Lets explore.
Turn off your entire solar system
You have to shut down the system before cleaning and maintain the process provided by manufacturers and installers. If you use an on-grid solar system, then you need to shut down the grid electricity switch also.
Disconnect any water connection
Your solar system might be connected to a swimming pool or rainwater tank, to avoid any short circuit, disconnect all the connections to ensure safety during the cleaning.
Choose a cool and overcast day
Your solar panels are installed to absorb sunlight. On a sunny day, it might be extremely hot, and the sudden water or soap can affect its chemical structure.
The sudden change will affect the energy production process. You need a lot of water because the hot surface water will evaporate quickly.
On the contrary, a cool and overcast day allows you to clean solar panels with ease. It will be beneficial for your skin and the surface of the solar panels.
Clean your solar panels from the ground if possible
It will ensure safety and allow you to complete the job within a short time