#1 July 19, 2013 18:30:00

duncanmiller
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Cleaning PV panels


I have heard it said that PV panels do not need cleaning but others have said they should be done yearly. Any views?





Edited duncanmiller (July 19, 2013 18:30:00)

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#2 July 19, 2013 21:27:00

avalanche
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Cleaning PV panels


Hi Duncan


You could start here with a previous string that was running a while ago: 


http://www.microgen-database.org.uk/forums/general-discussion/solar-panel-cleaning/1?pn=1#idb8sYm0LBHs-8qffMWHU8HQ 


Personally, I recommend it, but with care.    


Best regards, 


Avalanche 








Edited avalanche (July 19, 2013 21:27:00)

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#3 July 20, 2013 23:05:00

daveh
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Cleaning PV panels


I have cleaned my panels twice recently but only by simulating heavy rain - ie the garden hose - no brushing or mops. The position of my panels is such that I can see the dust build up and equally we do get a few sea gulls leaving messages! So soften with the hose and wash off a little later.


I monitor the performance very closely and on both occassions when cleaned the output rose by a fraction below 2% on the day. 


David - URN139


http://www.uptonmanor.eclipse.co.uk/weatherdisp/wdlindx.html


http://www.wunderground.com/weatherstation/WXDailyHistory.asp?ID=IENGLAND45





Edited daveh (July 20, 2013 23:05:00)

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#4 July 21, 2013 14:52:00

SteveRogers
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Cleaning PV panels


If you live in a hard water area DO NOT hose your panels down unless you can remove the water before it dries.  You will get a deposit that it would be difficult to shift safely (unless acid rain makes an unwelcome comeback!)


Steve





Edited SteveRogers (July 21, 2013 14:52:00)

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#5 July 26, 2013 17:09:00

johnlea
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Cleaning PV panels


Normally the rain does a fair job of keeping the panels clean, but lately I've noticed a distict layer of dust on our panels.  


I've had 2 goes at cleaning our 2 arrays:


  • Using a just a hose.
  • Hosing the panels down first, then brushing with a soft brush and finally rinsing off with the hose again.
The solar output during both the cleaning sessions as monitored with an Ecoeye Smart PV (which updates every 4 seconds) is posted here together with a photo of our installation.

Quantitative assessment is difficult due to the variability of the solar output, but if you extrapolate the output before the cleaning using a straight edge it could be argued that it did some good.


If you're wondering how I managed to brush the panels, I used a soft brush taped to one of these.


Regards John







Edited johnlea (July 26, 2013 17:09:00)

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#6 July 26, 2013 18:09:00

avalanche
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Cleaning PV panels


Excellent John,


 Here’s the proof,  if it were ever needed.   I definitely think cleaning is important for a number of reasons.  Heavy rain is useful in removing some heavy deposits.  However, in my  experience,  where birds have left deposits on the panels when the rain washes it off it still leaves an opaque residue that will only come off with brushing.  Also, where dust has accumulated and rivulets have formed it hasn’t been universal in removing all the deposits.  Lastly, accumulation of dust and dirt of course can have the unwanted effect of increasing the operating temperature of the cells, especially during the Summer months. 


As long as you are careful in your choice of brush bristle material (very soft) and use it without applying any additional pressure (i.e only utilising the weight of the brush and handle) whilst ensuring the panels are fully soaked before and after as John has done I think it offers significant benefits.  Personally, I do it during a downpour. 


Thanks John for providing the first real evidence of the benefits. 


Regards,


 Avalanche 








Edited avalanche (July 26, 2013 18:09:00)

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#7 July 26, 2013 20:21:00

johnlea
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Cleaning PV panels


Normally I've found the rain does all the cleaning that's necessary on our setup.  It's just that lately we haven't had any and I noticed the maximum solar output was a bit down on what I was expecting. This, combined with the fact that the car roof and rear window(which hadn't been cleaned either) also had a thick covering of brown dust, led me to see if cleaning increased the output of the panels.


Our panels are at a fairly steep angle - 42 degrees, you could imagine that the rain might clean them better than ones that are at a shallower angle.





John





Edited johnlea (July 26, 2013 20:21:00)

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#8 July 27, 2013 13:03:00

SteveRogers
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Cleaning PV panels


A bit unseasonal, John, but I've also used a soft brush taped to an extending pole to remove soft snow last Winter.  I also used some cable ties to strengthen the attachment.


It worked pretty well.  As long as you remove most of the snow the panels will warm and the final dusting will melt away.  It meant I had some production when others didn't for days on end (though it was probably only a few tens of kWh over the whole winter).


Steve





Edited SteveRogers (July 27, 2013 13:03:00)

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#9 July 27, 2013 17:29:00

avalanche
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Cleaning PV panels


It seems there are a number of succesful tools on the market that can be adapted for use. I have made one up from two Broom handles, steel tubing interface bolted through both covered with pipe insulation to protect the panels. A very soft bristle brush head (which took me a time to find) attached using a contoured wooden block. In all it cost about £10 to make. So you don't have to spend a great deal of money to come up with something that will do the job admirably. It's been nickmaned the: “Solar Array Remote Cleaner And Surface Monitor” as I intend to add a HD camera to the head to monitor for surface degradation as it gets older.


Avalanche








Edited avalanche (July 27, 2013 17:29:00)

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#10 July 28, 2013 11:59:00

avalanche
Registered: 2011-12-30
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Cleaning PV panels


Having just completed a short trawl for solar panel cleaning companies, it seems that there are now a proliferation of them! Domestic as well as commercial.


Whilst I'm an advocate of cleaning panels occasionally and appreciate that, for those who don't appreciate heights, this may be an option; it seems the next generation of “rip off” businesses is just being born! Be careful.














Edited avalanche (July 28, 2013 11:59:00)

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