With solar panel cleaning set to become incredibly popular in the UK during 2014, we answer the top 5 FAQS we are asked as a professional solar panel cleaning company.
Why do solar panels need cleaning? Solar panels need cleaning because they are exposed to the elements and accumulate all types of pollutants depending on their location. These can include traffic film, industrial emissions, dust from feed and harvesting on farms and salt in coastal regions. This build up of pollutants on the solar panels blocks out a degree of sunlight. This causes the solar panels to lose efficiency and not produce the maximum amount of electricity. Here is an example:
How Often Do Solar Panels Need Cleaning? This depends on where the solar panels are situated. The location of the solar panels, the surrounding atmosphere and climate and the angle of the solar panels. The UK climate is very different to the Spanish and American climates. It is more damp and algae can accumulate a lot quicker. In dry climates, airborne particles blow around in the breeze. In a rainier climate, these particles are absorbed by raindrops which fall and subsequently dry on the solar panels, creating the film of dirt that you see on many panels across the UK. The frequency for solar panel cleaning in the UK is not set in stone, but generally, residential solar panels need cleaning every 6-12 months. Commercial installs generally see a financial benefit from cleaning every 6 months and farm buildings accumulate the most grime and benefit from cleaning every 3-4 months. Farms can see huge financial losses if their solar panels are not cleaned regularly.
How Do I Clean My Solar Panels? Solar panel manufacturers do not recommend using chemicals or detergents to clean solar panels. They recommend that pure water only should be used, along with a soft bristle brush. Pure water should not be mistaken for tap water. Tap water contains minerals which, if used to clean solar panels, can leave behind a white film from the lime in tap water. This can be very difficult to remove and will inhibit the power out put from your solar panels. Here at Clean Solar Solutions, we have a top of the range water purification system. The water from our tap comes out at about 330 parts per million (PPM) impure. Our purification system takes this reading all the way down to 0 PPM. We then pump this water up a telescopic pole with a soft bristled brush on the end and use this to clean your solar panels. The pure water that gets left behind on the solar panels after cleaning dries clear, without leaving any marks. The water quality needed, along with the position of many solar panels makes solar panel cleaning a difficult DIY job and is the reason many people choose to use a professional solar panel cleaning company.
Can My Window Cleaner Clean My Solar Panels? Many window cleaners have added solar panel cleaning to their list of services because they may already have some of the equipment necessary for solar panel cleaning. However, there is an electrocution risk associated with solar panel cleaning that is not present with window cleaning. So, yes, some window cleaners CAN clean solar panels, but may not know how to do it SAFELY. If you choose to use your window cleaner to clean your solar panels, please ensure they know how to do so safely and are insured for solar panel cleaning. The larger the solar array, the larger the risk of electrocution. The risk associated with solar panel cleaning is another reason that many people choose to use a professional, specialist solar panel cleaning company. This is especially true if you own a large solar array. Larger solar arrays naturally carry larger risk.
What Percentage Increase In Production Can I Expect To See From Solar Panel Cleaning? Again, this varies according to the age of the installation, the location and the angle that the solar panels are positioned. Typically, after cleaning solar panels that have been installed for 2 years on a normal 2-storey house in an urban area, we see increases of 8-10%. On commercial rooftop solar installations that have been installed for 2 years, we see increases in output from 15%-40%. On arrays in rural areas and on farms, we typically see solar panel cleaning increases of 20-25%, though we have also seen solar panel cleaning bring an increase of 43% in output. When anyone has their solar panels installed, they want to know how long it will take for them to get their return on investment (ROI). Your solar panel installer may have told you that your expected ROI is 10 years. This figure was based on your solar panels always running at their maximum possible efficiency during the course of a year. If your solar panels continue to lose 20% of their output from not being cleaned, it will take you an extra 2 years to see your ROI. By having your solar panels cleaned by a professional company for a reasonable cost, you will keep your solar panels running to their maximum efficiency and you will see your ROI much sooner.