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Solar Panel Maintenance
If you have a solar installation on your property, you've probably realised that the panels have gotten quite dirty over time. This is because they are continually subjected to dust and airborne contaminants caused by their placement on roofs or the ground.
If a commercial solar installation is adjacent to industrial complexes or building sites, the dust accumulates much faster on the PV modules. The accumulation of dirt then results in partial shadowing. Additionally, it is well known that solar systems on farms gather particles rich in nitrogen and fertiliser, which can gradually degrade the solar components.
Another common form of solar panel screen obstruction that not only lowers energy output but may also result in hot spots on your solar panels is bird faeces. For your solar panels to work effectively, they need direct exposure to sunlight which requires proper positioning. The more sunshine your solar installation receives, the more electricity it will create to meet your needs.
To maintain your solar system's performance and guarantee its longevity, you must regularly clean your panels. This article will provide some general maintenance advice on how to clean your solar panels and guarantee continuous high solar production with the least amount of work. Read on.
Does SP Cleaning Affect Energy Production?
Cleaning your solar panels (SP) can increase energy output by around 5 to 10 per cent, depending on the amount of dirt build-up. Therefore, your energy bill would only decrease by tens of dollars when you clean small residential solar systems. As a result, if you receive rainfall every other time, you might as well let the rain do the job for you and wash the panels on your sloped roof.
On the other hand, for commercial or utility-scale solar farms, the same increase in energy output might make a noticeable difference. If your solar-powered property falls under either of the abovementioned categories, you should consider setting up a regular PV panel cleaning plan or hiring expert panel cleaners.
A Guide To Cleaning Your Solar Panels
If your (SP) solar panels are on the roof, taking the required safety precautions before ascending to the rooftop to clean them is essential. Ensure that your ladder is steady to avoid toppling and injuring yourself. Once your ladder is set, you can easily clean the panels by yourself by following the simple procedures outlined below.
Pick a pleasant, calm time of the day
The risk of cracks from a sudden shift in temperature increases if the hot glass on your panels gets into contact with chilly water. Additionally, whatever water you use to clean the panels may soon evaporate and create smudges, ruining all of your hard work if the hot sun is blazing down on them. Therefore, cleaning is best done in the early, cool hours of the day.
Moreover, that time is more favourable as you might use less water and energy to clean your solar panels if dew that accumulated overnight on the panels has softened the dirt and grime. However, cleaning your solar panels is best done on a cloudy day or a warm, calm evening if you can't get up early.
Turn off your entire system
Before handling or cleaning any electrical equipment, it is better to turn it off for safety reasons. This also applies to solar panels. Suppose you turn to the user handbook or operating manual. In that case, the shutdown instructions outlined by the inverter manufacturer indicate that you should completely shut the system down before cleaning the panels.
Although solar panels are made to resist the harsh Australian environment, some water may get on the underside of the panels if you're hosing them down. This could, in turn, result in difficulties and damage your entire system if you're not cautious. Utilise the solar supply main switch to turn off your AC systems.
Avoid climbing your roof without the necessary safety gear
Using water when working on your roof increases the risk of accidents that could injure you. The roof could become rather slippery. Therefore, if cleaning the panels from the ground is not an option, do not attempt to clean them if you do not have all the required safety gear and training. Instead, you should engage a certified professional cleaner for your protection.
Disconnect or block off any rainwater collectors or gutters
To guarantee that no unclean run-off water enters your tank, temporarily disconnect or block off any rainwater tanks that are installed and attached to your guttering system.
Before washing, brush off any loose dirt
It is imperative to brush away any loose debris, such as dirt, from the surface of your solar panel before you can use water. This step is crucial if you use a squeegee to clean the solar panels. When using a squeegee to clean, loose dirt might make the process take longer than it should if you had swept it off first.
If at all feasible, clean your panels off the ground
If possible, clean your panels off the ground for safety reasons. To spray water onto your panels, you can use a hose. The hose should have an appropriate nozzle to allow the water flow to wash off the dirt on your panels.
Ensure water is only aimed at the top of your solar panels
Although some water is acceptable to come into contact with the rear of your solar panels, you shouldn't purposefully direct water there or into the space between them and your roof.
Make use of a soft microfibre cloth and mild soap for tough dirt
You do not need to spend money on expensive cleaning products; water and mild soap can do the trick. Ideally, a decent soft brush and squeegee with a long extension, a plastic blade on one side, and a cloth-covered sponge on the other are enough.
One of the most important things to avoid doing while cleaning your solar panels is scratching them. Consequently, you should refrain from applying excessive pressure on the solar panel during cleaning. Stick to a hose and soapy water to clean your solar panels. It is an easy but risk-free technique to assist with solar panel cleaning at home.
Moreover, never raise the hose pressure setting too high since doing so might harm your solar panels. Remember that dirt has minimal effect on solar panels as it typically accumulates and is eventually rinsed away by rainwater. However, cleaning will increase your panel's output, in addition to what the rain does naturally.
Avoid using harsh chemicals
Since solar panels are a relatively expensive investment, you should be careful while undertaking the cleaning process to avoid doing anything that might damage them. You don't need any special cleaning agents to help clean up your solar panels.
Do not turn to harsh chemicals you use to clean your house if you need a stronger cleaning solution. Instead, check the manufacturer's instructions if you want to know what you can and cannot use to effectively clean your solar panels.
Hire a professional
If you've never cleaned solar panels before, it might be intimidating at first. You might also be reluctant to hire a company to clean the solar panels since you might not know how much they charge. While you don't want to harm your pricey solar panels, not cleaning them might reduce your system's effectiveness.
Fortunately, your solar panels only need to be cleaned at least twice a year. However, depending on where you reside and the environmental factors, you might have to clean them more frequently. This factor is especially true if you reside in a windy and dusty area.
You can get in touch with a business that specialises in solar energy since some also provide expert solar panel cleaning services and find out their prices. Additionally, you could inquire about solar panel cleaning services from a window washing business or even your regular cleaning service providers. Employing a professional cleaning company ensures that you do not have to do the task yourself if you do not trust yourself to do the cleaning as is required.
Extra Factors Affecting Solar Panel Efficiency
Let's look at other factors that impact how effective your solar panels' energy output will be in the long run.
The age of your solar panels should be taken into account as a factor that will reduce your system's efficiency in addition to the accumulation of dirt on them. Cutting costs on your electricity bill sounds terrific on paper, but if your solar energy system deteriorates after a few years or so, that prospect would be considerably less alluring.
Fortunately, that isn't the case. Before exhibiting signs of deterioration, solar panels will continue to function effectively for around 25 years with proper maintenance. And even then, they won't just cease generating power; instead, they could just do so with less efficiency. Based on the manufacturer, solar panels degrade annually at a rate of between .05 and .07 per cent on average.
Unfortunately, other factors besides ageing and accumulated dirt can affect solar panels' effectiveness. Occasionally, issues arise that are the direct result of subpar installation work. It's, therefore, crucial to keep in mind that installing solar panels is not a quick or straightforward task.
Since the solar system is an energy source for your entire property, it must link with the electrical grid, and a negligent installer might not execute these connections as well as they demand. It is not simply a question of mounting panels on your roof or ground. You will need a top-notch solar installation company to undertake the installation and prevent the occurrence of issues.
Did you know that high temperatures can reduce the effectiveness of solar panels? This could come as a surprise considering the widespread misunderstanding that they are powered by the sun. In actuality, UV rays are the main factor, while heat plays a minor role in energy production.
This explains why solar technology functions so effectively in space. Space is a frigid vacuum, yet there is a constant supply of UV light that can power spacecraft. In light of this, nearly every kind of technology is prone to overheating.
While it is not scorching hot in many areas of Australia, excessive heat can influence the efficiency of solar panels during certain seasons or regions of the country. There are solutions to this issue, such as installing solar panels that promote good airflow.
Shaded solar panels
Solar shadowing by trees or other buildings significantly impacts solar panels. Total or partial shadowing situations significantly affect the capacity to distribute energy. This may lead to decreased energy production and power losses.
Poor roof orientation
The orientation of solar panels is the main element influencing their performance (i.e., the direction your roof is facing.) Because they get the sunlight more directly and for a more extended period than any other orientation, panels on roofs facing south produce more power. However, this does not imply that other roof configurations are ineffective in energy production.
Get Expert Assistance For Clean Solar Panels
As you've seen in this post, cleaning your solar panels is an important maintenance step that guarantees the effective production of electricity. Additionally, having your panels cleaned is beneficial to increasing your system's lifespan.
As a tip, investing in solar batteries for your solar system ensures that you have backup power when the sun is not shining. As mentioned before, if you need assistance cleaning your solar panels, kindly get in touch with a reliable solar service company.