In general, a PV solar installation is fairly low-maintenance. But in locations that experience low rainfall or wind, or if placed with minimal panel tilt, dust and bird droppings can accumulate and thus affect the electricity being generated. Moreover, at locations close to freeways, highways, factories and airports, a solar unit tends to build up more grime, oil and dirt, hampering productivity. In fact, over an extended period of time, solar panels can lose up to 15-25% of their efficacy if not cleaned properly. So, it’s wise to go around to your PV solar panels frequently and do some much needed cleaning.
How to clean your solar panels
- Always check with your manufacturer or refer to the user manual for any specific cleaning instructions for your PV solar installation.
- Choose an overcast day, or a time early in the morning or later in the evening. PV solar panels can get incredibly hot, and cleaning during the daytime can get difficult. Start by brushing off any loose material, like leaves, that may have collected on the surface of your PV solar installation.
- Try taking off the grime using just a garden hose, but make sure you don’t use a high-pressure water sprayer, as the force can cause damage to your PV solar panels.
- Use a long-handled wiper wrapped with a soft cloth for the hard-to-reach corners of your solar unit.
- Avoid using metal or harsh tools in order to clean the accumulated dirt or bird droppings, as you stand a chance of scratching. Scratching the surface of your PV solar panels can be detrimental to their performance and might affect their overall life.
- Get something soft like a non-abrasive sponge or an old rag to aid in your cleaning. Use a bucket of mild soapy water at room temperature to help with the toughest spots, but try to keep the soap to a minimum.
- You can also get automatic cleaners set up with your PV solar installation, that work like a soft sprinkler system to clean the solar unit from time to time.
PV solar panels are the future of all our energy needs. They are a comprehensive solution to all the issues of an unsustainable energy system. And so, spending a couple of hours once or twice a year in their upkeep and maintenance is more than worth the effort. So, in order to make sure that your solar unit runs at maximum efficiency, and ensure that you get the most out of your buck, just pick up a bucket and get cleaning!
Your system should also be checked by your installer at least once a year to ensure optimum efficiency.
These handy tips are brought to you by JA Solar, producer of one of the world’s highest quality range of solar panels.
Author: Bryan Groenendaal