Does Solar Panel Cleaning Improve Panel Efficiency?
Solar panel cleaning is an absolute must if you want to get the best possible performance out of your panels. Most commonly, the solar cells in a panel will be covered by a glass coating for protective purposes. The dirtier this coating becomes, the less efficient the solar panel will be.
A decline in efficiency in your solar panel could be caused by several factors. If the surface of the panels is obstructed by pollution, the dust from traffic, or even bird droppings, this could result in an efficiency decline, due to light being prevented from reaching the cells. While there are many factors that could affect the amount of electricity your solar panels will produce, dirty solar panels can be one of the biggest, as well as the easiest to fix. It’s always good to regularly inspect your solar panels as well, which can help prevent the issues from arising in the first place.
Ways to Check Solar Panels
There are several ways to check and see if your solar panels need to be cleaned:
Physical inspection. Your solar panels should be inspected regularly, especially in areas where the weather conditions are unfavourable, or there are significant levels of dust. The connections should also be checked at this time, so that you can keep yourself updated as to their condition.
Use a monitoring service. A physical inspection is done regularly, but it’s good to back yourself up with a monitoring system. These are constantly monitoring the status and condition of the solar panels. You can either pay an upfront cost or a monthly fee, and then the performance levels of your system can be watched constantly. This helps to prevent damage and could even increase the lifespan of your panels.
A solar array produces a certain amount of electricity each month. With the aid of a monitoring system, you can receive information with regards to whether the system if offline or not performing at optimal levels. In addition to this, solar monitoring system can also show you how much power is being saved, as well as the level of CO2 that have been prevented from entering the atmosphere. It can also show you how much money you are saving.
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Ways to Clean Solar Panels
After you have checked your solar panel system (and discovered that it’s pretty dirty), the panels need to be cleaned. There are also several ways you can do this, some of them easier than other, and some of them cheaper than you might expect.
Cleaning it yourself. The first, and perhaps most obvious, the option is to clean the panels yourself. The surface of each panel can be cleaned quite easily with regular products that you would find around your home. For example, warm water and dishwashing soap will remove dirt that has built up over time. The only challenging part is reaching them safely. If you can do this, then excellent, but if not, the second option might be a better way to go.
Use a professional service. There are actually solar panel cleaning services that you can hire. The main issue is actually finding one that is good and reputable. Your installer is the best person to ask when it comes to a recommendation, as they can also give you advice on how much it should cost and how often the panels need to be cleaned – preventing you from wasting money. If you do use a cleaning service, make sure they are insured in case of any accidents.
Is Cleaning Solar Panels Worth It?
Some feel that cleaning solar panels is far too much trouble to even consider, but this causes the efficiency level to drop as more and more dirt accumulates on the surface of the panels. It could drop a few percentages, or by a massive amount, over the course of several years.
Solar panels are created with a protective layer on them that keeps them protected from bad weather. Over the course of several years, the accumulation of dust and other materials will reduce the overall efficiency. For a typical 5kW solar system in a residential dwelling, yearly cleaning would only result in a few pounds’ worth of electricity production being gained.
Dust gathering on solar panels does make a difference in terms of performance, but in some locations, it is not a large enough factor to warrant cleaning. If the decline in power output is only small, and the power consumption of the household is still covered by the panels, then the cleaning might not be worth the further investment.
For the larger commercial rooftop system, the financial losses are bigger if the solar panels do not perform at optimal levels. However, it is still enough to warrant the cost of washing the panels, especially as it does not tend to happen too often.
If you invest in a cleaning company to wash and tidy your solar panels, there is no return on your investment. So the cost of cleaning tends to be more than the results that are produced.
Other Factors Affecting Solar Panel Efficiency
It has been discovered that solar panels that are mounted at an angle of fewer than five degrees resulted in significant losses in solar panel efficiency. This is due to the fact that deposits slide off the panels when they are at an angle. The location is also a factor when it comes to panel efficiency. Areas that have more dirt may affect the way in which the system operates.
Dust is not the only factor that can cause the efficiency of solar panels to drop. Other factors, such as bird droppings, should always be cleaned off. This is because the droppings will block the sunlight and are often not naturally removed by weather conditions such as rain. PV panels may also get dirty and require cleaning, depending on the surroundings. An example being that is the panels are directly next to and downwind of a motorway, factory, or agricultural area, this could generate enough dirt to warrant cleaning.
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