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Solar Module Cleaning Tips for Maximizing Efficiency and Longevity

Ember Climate estimates that the total share of renewables in the production of electricity was 38%, with solar accounting for 11.5% of all renewables. In India, the solar energy sector is rapidly expanding. As of August 31, 2023, the nation’s installed solar capacity was 71.61 GW. India will have the fourth-highest worldwide solar power output in 2021. India intends to publish 40 GW of bids for solar and hybrid projects in the fiscal years 2023–2024. A sustainable and environmentally beneficial source of energy is solar energy. So regular cleaning is essential for ensuring the longevity and optimum performance of solar panels increases your solar panel efficiency and contributes to reaching the nation’s goal. Here we’re going to discuss solar module cleaning Tips, why solar modules need cleaning, the importance of cleaning solar modules, and recommend the best methods for this essential maintenance activity.

Why do solar modules need cleaning?

Keeping your solar panels clean is important for making sure they work well. Here are three simple reasons why cleaning them is a good idea:

Maintaining Efficiency: Regular cleaning keeps your solar panels in good shape. This helps them work properly and saves you money because you won’t have to replace them as often.

Warranty Coverage: Some solar companies require regular cleaning as part of their warranty. If you don’t clean your panels regularly, you might not be able to use the warranty if something goes wrong. It’s a good idea to clean them regularly just to be safe.

Dust in Rainwater: Even if you live in a place where it rains a lot, it’s still important to clean your panels. Rainwater can have dust in it, and this dust can damage your solar panels over time. So, regular cleaning is a good practice, even if you think rain is enough to clean them.

Importance of Solar Module Cleaning:

Solar panels produce electricity by converting light. Solar panels are exposed to a variety of environmental factors, such as dust, dirt, pollen, bird droppings, leaves, and air pollution. These contaminants can build up over time on the surface of the modules. If the solar panel’s surface is dirty, less light will be absorbed there, which will lower efficiency. Cleaning solar panels can enhance performance by removing dust, dirt, and other pollutants like leaves and insects. Here are some reasons why cleaning solar panels is essential:

Enhanced Energy Production

More sunlight can be captured by clean solar panels, increasing energy output. Regular cleaning is required for your solar panels to operate at their highest level of efficiency. Dust, rubbish, dirt, and bird droppings may settle on the panels’ surface, reducing the amount of sunlight that reaches the cells and decreasing their capacity to produce electrical. Sometimes, a buildup of dirt can prevent the panels from receiving up to 30% of the solar energy, reducing their efficacy3. Energy production can be dramatically decreased by even a small coating of dirt or dust. You can maximize the return on your investment by maintaining maximum efficiency and energy output through routine cleaning. According to studies, cleaning solar panels can increase their performance by 20% 3.

Prolonged Lifespan

If dust and debris are not removed right away, they can generate micro-scratches that result in long-term damage and decreased efficiency. By removing hazardous materials, you can avoid damage to the solar panels and prolong their lifespan. With routine maintenance, solar panels can operate for up to 25 years or more3.

Maintenance Cost Reduction

You can lower your energy costs and save money over time by maximizing the effectiveness of your solar panels. Cleaning regularly prevents the need for costly repairs or replacements. Clean solar panels are less prone to problems like corrosion or hotspots. Additionally, routine cleaning can help you prevent having to pay for costly replacements or repairs due to damage from negligence.

Solar Module Cleaning Tips:

Frequency

The local environment affects how frequently the module is cleaned. More regular cleaning could be required in locations with high quantities of pollen or dust. The majority of solar professionals advise that you give your panels a thorough cleaning at least once a year in addition to just clearing away any dirt. Compared to panels that were just cleaned by rainfall, yearly cleaning has been found to increase energy output by as much as 12% 4.

Timing

After the spring pollen season, cleaning your solar panels will enable them to absorb more summer sun. They will be more productive during the shorter days of winter if they receive a second cleaning in the autumn after the leaves have fallen 5. To prevent thermal shock from sudden temperature fluctuations while cleaning, clean panels in the early morning or late afternoon when they are cold.

Water quality

Water has to be free of physical pollutants and grit that might harm the panel surface. To prevent the formation of scale on the surface of the module, water that has a mineral concentration greater than 75ppm but less than 200ppm must be squeezed out. It is not recommended to use water that has more minerals than 200 ppm 7. At the nozzle, the water pressure should not be greater than 35 bar (500 psi). The modules might be damaged if high-pressure hoses are used for cleaning7.

Safety First

Solar panels are fragile and are prone to scratching or breaking. As time passes, these little problems might develop into more serious ones. When cleaning solar panels, put safety first. Only soft cleaning tools, such a soft brush, a cloth, or a squeegee with a plastic handle, should be used to clean your panels. Besides, take the required safety measures while working at heights and make sure the panels are de-energized before cleaning. Solar panels are connected in series to produce up to 1000V DC 7. When the modules are wet, cracks in the modules, damaged cables, or broken joints in a string pose a serious threat to cleaning personnel. During cleaning, cleaning professionals must wear the proper Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) that insulates against electrical current.

Be Gentle

Be careful while handling solar panels because they are fragile. To remove dirt and mud that has been glued in place, use gentle circular strokes. Starting with the easier sections, clear away any loose debris and leaves. Solar panel cleaning should never include the use of pressure washers or high-pressure hoses. Do not apply excessive pressure while cleaning to avoid scratching the glass surface. Gentle, even pressure is sufficient to remove most contaminants 6. To prevent scratching the glass surface, don’t clean with too much pressure. Most pollutants can be removed by applying light, and steady pressure.

Avoid Abrasive Tools

Bristles that are too hard can damage panel surfaces. Never use razor blades or harsh scrubbing pads as they might damage the glass and reduce efficiency.

Solar Panel Tilt

When cleaning solar panels, it’s frequently more efficient to tilt them just a little bit. Consequently, the panels can more readily be cleaned of water and debris. Researchers from the University of California, San Diego discovered that cleaning solar panels was aided by an angle of at least 5º 8.

Consider Professional Cleaning

Think about employing specialized solar panel cleaning services with the required equipment and knowledge for large-scale solar systems or panels in challenging-to-reach locations..

In order to maintain maximum energy output and extend the lifespan of your solar modules, regular cleaning is an essential component of solar panel maintenance. By keeping to best practices, you can maximize the benefits of solar energy while reducing the negative effects of environmental contaminants. Cleaning solar modules adds to a more affordable, sustainable, and environmentally friendly energy source.

Originally published at futr.energy/knowledge

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