Clean Solar panels

How To Clean Solar panels? Cleaning Solution 2022

12 minutes, 15 seconds Read

Solar photovoltaic (PV) panels are made to operate for 25 to 30 years with little to no maintenance after installation. But it’s still important to keep them clean to continue achieving optimal power generation.

However, are you aware of how to clean solar panels? There are many ways we can use such as robots or coatings made of nanoparticles.

Solar energy system efficiency can be increased and home energy costs can be decreased by learning how to clean solar panels.

Related Reading: Solar Panel Cleaning Cost

Benefits Of Cleaning Solar Panels

For most people, cleaning solar panels may seem like quite the hassle, which begs the question: why should you do it? The advantages listed below should help you understand why it’s critical to clean solar panels:

Improved Efficiency

It may be common knowledge that cleaning solar panels improves their efficiency, but you might be surprised by how much. The efficiency of your system can drop by 5% on average if you don’t clean your solar panels. After a month of not being cleaned, solar panels in a heavily polluted area can lose up to 35% of their efficiency. In some instances, cleaning solar panels increased their effectiveness by 50%, according to researchers.

Even though the aforementioned instances may have been extreme ones, it is still clear that cleaning solar panels can significantly increase your system’s efficiency.

Shorter Payback Period

Solar panel systems can be very expensive, and setting up a solar energy system will cost you a lot of money. Naturally, you’ll desire a quick payback period in order to get a quick return on your investment. However, since your system is less efficient as a result of poor maintenance, it saves you less money each month on your utility bill, which results in a poor return on investment.

While cleaning them increases their effectiveness by allowing more light to reach the cells, which increases return on investment. As a result, your installation costs are recovered more quickly.

Warranty

For many solar panel manufacturers and companies, regular cleaning is a warranty requirement. The warranty might be void if frequent cleaning isn’t verified. As a result, you should regularly clean your panels if you want to be safe in the event of a malfunction.

Increased Longevity Of The System

Dust, dirt, and grime suspensions are dispersed throughout the atmosphere like soft sand grains. Your solar energy system will eventually deteriorate if you don’t routinely clean your solar panels. Although it might not be apparent at first, the efficiency of your panels will eventually decline, and you also run the risk of shortening the lifespan of your system.

Why Professional Solar Cleaning Is The Best Choice?

As of January 2022, there were more than 3 million rooftop solar power systems in Australia. The small-scale solar industry increased its capacity by 3.3 GW in 2021, according to the Clean Energy Council.

The majority of homeowners favor performing their own solar panel maintenance. When using this method, be sure to adhere to safety precautions to ensure secure gutter and solar cleaning. To learn more about how to clean solar panels efficiently and safely, read this article here.

Although many homeowners prefer to DIY and stick to a strict budget, solar panel cleaning services offer a professional service while adhering to industry safety standards. It’s not as easy as it seems to clean panels.

Through our FREE quoting service, you can obtain a free estimate for cleaning your solar panels. Your solar panels will be kept clean and operating at their peak efficiency thanks to our network of regional solar experts. By passing this brief quiz, you can receive up to 3 FREE quotes today. Please choose “Repairs and Maintenance” after you’ve indicated whether you own a home or a business.

How To Clean Solar Panels?

Cleaning solar panels can be done in a variety of ways, from fully automated systems to simple manual methods. While rainwater can remove some of the grime that collects on panels over time, it can also cause dirt to accumulate at the bottom of the panels, and it isn’t sufficient to remove heavy pollution.

Waterless Vibration

Scientists at Heriot-Watt University in Scotland and in a project funded by NASA in the US have developed ways to cause solar panels to vibrate to shake surface dust loose. The Heriot-Watt solution involves mounting a direct-current (DC) motor on the back of a panel that can be tuned to produce vertical vibrations.

Robotics

Robotics

Robotics technology is enabling companies like Italy-based Washpanel to produce automatic and semi-automatic robots specifically designed for solar panel cleaning. It offers transportable, semi-automatic robots for use with solar panels mounted on structures like carports, greenhouses, and shed roofs. Additionally, it provides fixed roof robots for sizable installations in arid environments that demand routine cleaning.

Ecoppia uses solar-powered autonomous robots in the Middle East to clean PV panels each night with soft microfiber and airflow rather than water because high-pressure washing can harm the panels. The robots quickly recharge their batteries in between operations and clean their own onboard solar panels.

Soap-less Brushes And Sponges

Solar maintenance companies like US-based Bland Company and Premier Solar Cleaning have found that using deionized water with a rolling or vehicle-mounted brush allows them to clean panels without using soap, which leaves a residue that not only shades panels but attracts dirt.

To help water lift off the dirt without leaving a film behind, Solar Panel Wash is made by lubricant manufacturer Polywater. To get rid of dirt, SunSystem Technology mixes diluted vinegar and hydrogen peroxide.

Additionally, homeowners can manually clean their solar panels with a garden hose and a soft sponge without the use of any cleaning solutions.

Nanoparticle Coatings

Scientists at the International Advanced Research Centre for Powder Metallurgy and New Materials (ARCI) unit of India’s Department of Science and Technology have developed a solar panel coating to prevent dirt from accumulating in harsh environments. High temperatures, high humidity, and high pollution all have an impact on the efficiency of PV panels in India.

The nanoparticle-based technology repels dust so that it can be easily removed with water and is highly transparent so that the coating does not lower panel efficiency. The coating is being produced for commercial use by Marichin Technologies in India.

Manual Cleaning Work

The old-fashioned method of manually cleaning the PV panels works well. Although innovative and effective, solutions like robots, waterless vibration, or special coatings can also be quite costly and ineffective in certain circumstances. This is specifically true of small installations, whether they are on a residential or commercial scale, as well as unique buildings and installations like agrivoltaics.

When cleaning solar panels, certain tools are very helpful in completing the task correctly. On the one hand, the soil is removed from the panel using a variety of specialized brushes that rotate. Additionally, any straightforward cleaning tool, like the ones used on car windshields, could be of assistance.

On the other hand, employing water pressure tools like the Karcher High-Pressure Washer would enable us to finish the job much more quickly while conserving a significant amount of water.

How To Judge When To Clean Solar Panels?

The system’s decreasing efficiency is the most obvious sign that the solar panels need cleaning.

As opposed to the warmer air of the summer, which traps pollutants farther from the ground, pollution is typically higher in the winter. As a result, spring is the ideal season to clean solar panels because summertime temperatures make them unbearably hot to handle. They are cooler in the morning or early evening, which is the best time of day to clean them.

Businesses are exploring ways to use cutting-edge technology to monitor the health of solar panels and take some of the guesswork out of the process.

A method that attaches a sensor to the glass surface of a panel and uses an LED light to measure how much dirt has accumulated has been given a patent by researchers in Spain. The US National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) is also working on a method to track the quantity of electricity that solar panels generate each day in order to identify when soiling has started to reduce output.

The cloud-based platform from Ecoppia makes use of sensors and machine learning to keep an eye on solar PV systems, gather weather information, and move between trackers to clean panels on an ideal schedule.

How Does Location Influence Solar Panel Cleaning?

How to clean solar panels and how frequently they must be cleaned in order to maintain their effectiveness depend on where they are installed.

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. High levels of atmospheric dirt and oil buildup will occur when PV panels are installed in polluted areas, particularly close to factories, highways, or airports.
  • Wooded areas. Installations near a lot of trees are more likely to have more leaves fall onto the panels, preventing sunlight absorption. Trees also draw birds, which may lead to an accumulation of droppings that cover the PV cells and damage the surface due to acidity, decreasing efficiency.
  • Deserts. Larger accumulations of sand that obstruct light and scratch PV panels are common in places like the Middle East and the US Southwest with arid climates. A large clump of ash from a wildfire can easily fall on panels in places like Australia or California.

Additionally, how frequently PV panels need to be cleaned depends on the angle of the rooftop where they are installed. In comparison to flat-mounted panels, where water can pool and leave a residue, panels that are installed at an angle get more cleaning from rainwater runoff.

Large commercial solar sites require cleaning more frequently than residential systems because the size of the installation affects how much electricity generation is impeded when panels are dirty. Therefore, robotic solutions are better suited for industrial systems.

How To Keep Solar Panels Efficient?

While professional services and do-it-yourself tips can help you keep your panels clean and maintained, the solar industry also frequently develops fresh ideas for much more seamless upkeep. These ideas include:

  • dust- and soil-repelling coatings that are specifically designed.
  • Robotic vacuum cleaners for cleaning up dirt Along with air blowers, they employ gentle brushes.
  • Kipp & Zonen’s commercial tool for dirt measurement.

The DustIQ monitor from Kipp & Zonen keeps track of dirt accumulation on the array using LED and a photodiode. With the aid of this tool, solar farm operators can determine when cleaning their arrays will result in the best performance.

Experts in the field advise cleaning your panels at least twice per year. This keeps your investment operating as it should and in top condition.

Giving your solar panels less care than they require could result in energy loss as well. Bear in mind that energy waste results in financial loss.

Do solar panels benefit from cleaning? Yes, you may lose the following amounts of energy each quarter if you don’t give your panels the necessary maintenance.

  • Year 1 Q1: 5% Energy Loss
  • Year 1 Q2: 10% Energy Loss
  • Year 1 Q3: 15% Energy Loss
  • Year 1 Q4: 20% Energy Loss
  • Year 2 Q1: 25% Energy Loss
  • Year 2 Q2: 30% Energy Loss
  • Year 2 Q3: 35% Energy Loss
  • Year 2 Q4: 35% Energy Loss

Tips For Cleaning Solar Panels

  • Because the risk of glass cracking as the water dries is reduced on cooler days, they are preferable for cleaning solar panels.
  • It is not advised to clean solar panels with an abrasive, powerful detergent. The glass on solar panels can be easily cleaned at home using a mixture of one part vinegar, one part gentle, non-abrasive soap, and eight parts water.

Things Not To Do When Cleaning Solar Panels

Use A Pressure Washer

While pressure washers are great for cleaning your home’s exterior components like the roof and gutters, you should never use them to clean your solar panels. While you could argue that their high pressure and wide reach make cleaning large areas of the panels relatively simple, doing so runs the risk of breaking or even scratching the glass, which could result in damage to your solar panels.

Additionally, the force of the highly pressured water may cause the panel attachments to become loose, allowing water to enter the panel. Therefore, avoid using high-pressure washers!

Hard Bristle Brushes

Your panels’ surface can become clogged with dirt and grime that sticks to it. A brush and some mildly soapy water are required to remove this dirt and grime buildup, which can be quite challenging. To avoid scratching the surface of the panels, however, always choose a high-quality soft brush when choosing a brush for your cleaning.

On the other hand, using a hard bristle brush might cause panel surface damage. The surface of the panels can be scratched by hard bristle brushes. Much of the incident solar energy will be dispersed by numerous tiny scratches. The efficiency of the panels may be affected, or they may not be able to capture solar energy altogether. Never use a harsh bristle brush, even if you want to be gentle because it will almost certainly cause permanent damage.

Strong Cleaning Fluids

You might assume that using stronger cleaning solvents would be a good solution because of the tough dirt and grime that is difficult to remove. On the other hand, using cleaning supplies that contain strong and abrasive chemicals could seriously damage the glass panels and reduce their effectiveness. Instead, avoid anything with high alcohol content and use liquid soaps sparingly when cleaning solar panels.

You might be surprised to learn that your panels can be damaged by soap, even if it is present in high concentrations. The solar cells inside the panels may be shaded by a thin film that can be left behind, much like what dirt and debris do. Additionally, it may encourage the accumulation of dirt and debris, necessitating more frequent cleaning of your panels.

Safety Considerations For Cleaning

  • Before cleaning, solar panels must be disconnected, and the underside must never be accessed.
  • Wearing gloves and using extension tools to clean solar panels from the ground is safest. Although it might be necessary to ascend to the roof for houses with a second or third story.
  • Homeowners who are unsure of their ability to safely clean their solar panels should think about hiring a local solar power expert to do it for them.

Final Word

The future of power generation lies in solar energy, one of the most promising power generation technologies currently in use.

Solar panel cleaning may seem annoying, but it is actually very important to keep solar panel systems functioning at their best. By allowing you to recover the cost of installation faster and giving you a more consistent energy output, the advantages of doing this will undoubtedly outweigh the inconvenience.

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