How to clean solar panels

25 Jul.,2022

 

Solar Panel Cleaning Tool

Last updated on May 14, 2022

Why should you clean your solar panels?

Is It Necessary? How Often?

The first thing that comes to mind when answering this question is that it is critical to keep your solar panels clean in order to conserve their efficiency.

It is recommended that, after installing solar panels, you brush them with a soft brush to remove any tree leaves or dust that may have accumulated on them during the installation process; otherwise your solar panels will stop working efficiently.

Also Read: What is the cost of solar panel installation?

Overall, similar to cleaning other devices, it can be beneficial to pay attention to the condition of your solar panels. We recommend that you perform the cleaning process once every six months or so.

This can significantly increase your panels’ power generation capacity. Ordinary yearly breakdowns attributed to this factor are estimated somewhere in the range of 2% and 5% regularly.

However, by collecting dirt on the PV framework, this can increase after some time. That is why it is critical to understand how frequently and when to clean your sunlight-based boards.

How does cleaning improve the efficiency of solar panels?

The accumulation of dust from the outdoor environment on solar panels is natural, but it can reduce their performance.

Average solar panels have an efficiency rating of 18%–25%, but if they are dirty, this rating may decrease. Solar panels require cleaning to achieve their maximum efficiency ratings.

Solar panels generate 18 to 25% of their energy from the sun on average, depending on the quality of the solar cell. However, when they become dirty, the amount of light that they convert into electricity decreases.

To keep them efficient, you must clean your solar panel systems regularly. The frequency with which a solar system should be cleaned is determined by several factors. This includes ensuring that there is no pollen or dander on the panel if you have trees.

If birds are actively flying around your house, you will need to clean the obvious bird droppings.

Because of the upward angle of the solar panels, they are more prone to bird droppings and a buildup of general dust and dirt that does not wash away with rain.

This reduces the amount of light that strikes the panel and thus its output.

Also Read: The best Solar Panels to buy in Australia

Can I clean the solar panel myself?

If you decide to clean your solar panel, you have two options: hire a professional or do it yourself. Many solar companies will provide you with this type of service.

The best way to clean your solar panel is to hire an expert or a maintenance engineer who can handle your entire system, not just cleaning.

If you insist on cleaning your panels yourself, you’ll usually have everything you need at home. In most cases, all you’ll need is a hose and some soap, and you’ll be good to go.

You can use a soft rag/soft mop or a non-abrasive sponge. Clean solar panels while they are damp to ensure that any dirt or adhered residue is easily wiped away.

When cleaning solar panels, it’s important to avoid using harsh materials that could damage them. You can also clean them with a robotic system that runs on the frame.

Another option is to install sprinklers that will clean the panels.

How frequently should solar panels be cleaned?

Most solar experts recommend that you clean your panels thoroughly at least once a year. 

Because most solar panels stand tilted at an angle on the roof, dust, leaves, and other pollutants frequently slide off the panels. 

Dirt, bird droppings, and other debris, on the other hand, can cause a build-up on the solar panels, reducing their efficiency by a significant margin. 

Cleaning the solar panels will ensure that they are operating at peak efficiency. Flat solar panels need cleaning more frequently than tilted solar panels. 

The reason for this is that dust, dirt, pollen, leaves, and other debris do not easily slide off the flat solar panels.

GET SOLAR REBATES

We help you receive a solar rebate by claiming the Small-scale Technology Certificates (STCs).

This scheme enables you to save a lot of money in the installation of solar energy. 

What happens if you don’t clean your solar panels?

If solar panels are not cleaned, they will degrade more quickly. This is because dirt on the panel’s surface reduces its transparency as well as its ability to absorb energy.

UV light can cause chemical reactions in the dirt on solar panels, resulting in corrosive substances that vaporize metal panels, causing component damage.

The best way to keep your solar power system running at peak capacity is to have professionals handle all maintenance tasks, including regular inspections and cleaning.

Cleaning solar panels: Things to know before you start cleaning

  • You must understand the different types of solar panels (for example, bi-facial), as well as the different types of glass and cleaning chemicals needed for each.
  • If you’re using robots for cleaning, you must first learn about solar panel mounting methods and configurations. This is because you must adapt your robot operation to mounting configuration for automatic robotic cleaning.
  • You must be aware of the costs of operating an automatic robot, including the cost of electricity (which may be provided by a battery), the cost of an operator, and the cost of spare parts.
  • You must be aware of the weather conditions as well as the number of aerosol particles, particulate matter, dust, smog, smoke, and debris in the area.

Also Read: How to buy the best solar panel

Methods of solar panel cleaning

1. Simple process:

  • Begin promptly at the start of the day. By pressing the fast closure catch or pulling down the DC disengage switch in your combiner box, you can disconnect your PV exhibit from the inverter.
  • Assemble some refined water and combine it with a small amount of dish detergent
  • Use a soft brush to start cleaning your modules with the water mixture. After washing all the modules, remove the cleanser with a low-pressure hose.
  • Allow the modules to dry for some time.

2. Manual

➡ Develop a reasonable cleaning schedule based on local conditions to ensure a scientific and efficient cleaning plan that meets power generation efficiency requirements.

➡ The cleaning must be thorough; otherwise, serious consequences such as the “hot spot effect” may occur.

Under normal lighting conditions, the solar panels in the corners that are unclean will transition from generating units to power-consuming units, and the shaded photovoltaic cells will become load resistors that do not generate electricity, consuming the electricity generated by the connected batteries, i.e., heating.

This process will accelerate the aging of the battery board, reduce output, and, in extreme cases, cause a fire.

➡ Use a specialized cleaning fluid. Some users clean and disinfect the solar panels with regular tap water or well water.
Because water contains many impurities, it will adhere to the surface glass of the solar panels, reducing the solar power generation efficiency.

Experiments have shown that rinsing solar panels with tap water reduces power generation efficiency by more than 1.8 percent compared to using a special cleaning solution.

➡ Choose the appropriate cleaning tools and methods to extend battery life. The surface of the solar panel battery is made of high-strength tempered glass, which is prone to wear.

The solar panel has a service life of more than 20 years. It is typically cleaned once or twice a year to ensure normal power generation.

It is easy to cause the surface of the battery to wear if the methods and tools used are not appropriate. This will affect the power generation capacity and life of the battery panel.

➡ Resolve the problem of solar photovoltaic power plants’ cleaning during the winter and snow season. Water cannot be used to clean battery components during the winter and snow seasons.

Condensation and icing on battery panels continue to be a problem in some seasons.

For example, you can use removal equipment like dew removal equipment, deicing equipment, and waterless cleaning.

3. Cleaning with Power washing

High-pressure water flushing is the process of cleaning a solar panel by spraying it with water from a nozzle.

Power washing with plain water is the best method because it is quick and effective, but it is risky.

The glass/metal seal on the front of the modules cannot withstand the potential force from power washing, and forcing water into the module will almost certainly destroy it and void the warranty.

However, I believe that with caution, power washing can be effective.

When the modules are hot, do not spray them with water. The glass may break, and even if it does not, you may cause damage to the metal/glass.

You can use a gentle stream of water to wash away dirt that has accumulated on solar panels. Pressured water, on the other hand, can cause damage to your panel.

4. Photovoltaic cleaning machine powered by electricity:

Solar photovoltaic panel cleaning technology can significantly improve the efficiency of electricity generated as well as the solar panels’ durability.

There are various cleaning methods, including electrostatic cleaning, super hyperbolic coating methods, mechanical methods, microcontroller-based automatic cleaning methods, self-cleaning nanodomes, and dust particle characteristics.

5. Automatic cleaning:

Technology now allows the automatic cleaning of solar panels without the use of water or labor. The system takes advantage of the fact that most dust particles have an electric charge, which is especially useful in dry environments. The entire panel vibrates to shake dust loose.

6. Robotics

Robotics technology allows companies like Italy’s Washpanel to produce automatic and semi-automatic solar panel cleaning robots. 

It offers semi-automatic portable robots for panels installed on carports, greenhouses, and shed roofs.

It also provides fixed roof robots for large installations in dusty environments that require regular cleaning.

Precautions:

Following are some precautions you need to consider before cleaning your panels:

  • Turn off the inverter before cleaning.
  • Clean panels either in the morning or in the evening. Avoid cleaning during the peak period of power generation when the PV system is operating efficiently at noon in the summer to avoid damage.
  • Avoid using sharp objects to clean the glass surface. Make use of a soft brush or a sponge only.
  • Avoid the use of critical equipment. The glass is solid, but using grating materials can cause harm to the module.
  • Avoid water with high mineral content. To clean solar panels, manufacturers recommend using refined or de-ionized water.
  • Avoid walking on top of the modules. The sun-powered boards are to withstand the explicit daily circulation of wind. As your weight exceeds the planned burdens, it may cause miniature breaking and decrease the module’s presentation after some time. Furthermore, the surface of the sunlight-based boards can be tricky. Regardless of how cautious you are, there is a slim chance of sun-oriented boards being dangerous.

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Munazza Umar

Munazza holds a degree in electrical engineering. She loves writing about energy efficiency, energy hacks, and environmental sustainability.

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