March 2, 2014

How to Maintain Your Solar Panels

Why Should I Clean My Solar Panels?

Cleaning a dirty solar system can boost performance by upwards of 30%. The frequency of cleaning your panels is dependent on your geographical and ecological surroundings. For example, rainy areas generally require far less cleaning than drier climates. Construction dust as well as ash from fires may require more frequent cleaning.

How to Clean Solar Panels

Cleaning you own solar panels is not recommended. Walking on a wet roof with cleaning equipment is treacherous even for a seasoned professional. Not only can this present some dangers to your own health, but also may be damaging to your health of your roof. If you have rooftop experience and the proper fall-protection equipment, follow the steps below, but proceed with caution.

  1. Do my panels need to be cleaned? First, assess your panels visually. This is the easiest way to tell if your panels need to be cleaned. If they are dirty, check to see if they are performing at full capacity. If you notice a slight drop in performance or see a dusty film on them, it’s time for a cleaning.
  2. Safety – If you have a roof top solar array, you should only access the roof with a ladder secured to the ground. Do not forget about the importance of fall protection equipment, and all of the necessary standard precautions of safety.
  3. Cleaning Products – Pool skimmer with soft cloth attachment, squeegee, bio-degradable soap, and water source.
  4. Method – Just like washing a car, it is most beneficial to wash your solar panels early in the morning or on a cloudy day to avoid streaking or hard water spots. Wet the panels, scrub with soap, rinse, and squeegee off excess water. No need to dry.

Self Cleaning Systems – In recent years companies like Heliotex have invented eco-safe automatic solar panel cleaning systems that have independently programmed rinse and wash cycles. If you are willing to spend the money upfront it will help you to maximize solar panel production on daily basis.

Watch for any new shade

Notice any new trees blocking your panels. Nearby trees may simply need to be trimmed. Any new buildings or construction could pose a serious problem. If even a quarter of your solar panel is in the shade, you’re likely to lose more than half the output for that panel; the shade works exponentially, not proportionally.

Keep an eye on your system.

On the inverter display, if the green light is on you are in the clear. If the light is flashing, consider consulting your manual or installer. You probably don’t need to check on this every day, but the longer you wait to fix a problem, the more you’ll spend on your electricity bill. If there is a problem, contact your installer. Many installers and manufacturers offer extensive warranties and performance guarantees.

Monitor Your Performance

You can monitor the day-to-day performance of your system measured at roughly the same time each day. Be sure to remember that not all days produce power equally. Spring and summer days will most likely produce much more electricity during the fall and winter. Many manufactures now offer 24 hour electronic monitoring with client access via web or phone app.

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