Cleaning Solar Panels.

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Cleaning Solar Panels.

Postby Sundance » Sat May 10, 2014 6:57 am

Hi,
May be a simple question, but what is the best method of keeping a solar panel clean. I would imagine that a dirty panel would drastically reduce output. I don't want to damage the surface.
Any suggestions would be appreciated.
Thanks.
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Re: Cleaning Solar Panels.

Postby Gordon-Loomberah » Sat May 10, 2014 7:42 am

It depends somewhat on where the panels are located, if you can easily reach them a clean cloth and water works pretty well for dust. If on a roof you might need a long handled squeegee. Soap may be useful for bird poo, but generally just plain water removes dust with extra rubbing on any poo works for me. Always followed by a spray rinse with the hose.
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Re: Cleaning Solar Panels.

Postby Sundance » Sat May 10, 2014 10:36 am

Thanks for advice Gordon,
Just wanted to avoid destroying any protective layers etc. Panels are ground mounted so easy access.
I also understand you have or are creating a solar tracker. Do you have any info available on what you are doing? I have designed one myself but still have a couple of issues!
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Re: Cleaning Solar Panels.

Postby Gordon-Loomberah » Sat May 10, 2014 1:32 pm

I built an equatorial tracking mount about 5 years ago, there is a time-lapse animation of it on my web page, linked below, and a pic in my intro thread too (G'day from Loomberah).
I'm currently building an alt-az mounting for 8 X 250W panels, it's been basically finished for some time, apart from mounting the drive motors. It's been on hold due to various things, including searching for a suitable motor for the elevation drive, which I recently found. I hope to get around to putting it up and mounting the PV panels on it within a few months.
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Re: Cleaning Solar Panels.

Postby Smurf1976 » Sat May 10, 2014 7:23 pm

Normal household floor mop (the type with a sponge) and warm (not hot - remember that the panels are made of glass!) works fine for cleaning them.

But in many cases (eg remote installations etc) cleaning is impractical due to time and labour cost. At work we just size everything such that they work with a bit of loss due to dust etc - we've got about 600 such installations and only one of them has ever been cleaned (it was cleaned due to an unexplainably high amount of bird waste deposited all over it - not sure if that came from one bird that was feeling a bit crook or if lots of birds were involved but it hasn't become soiled again).
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Re: Cleaning Solar Panels.

Postby mkitch » Thu May 15, 2014 9:20 pm

Some time ago I started an experiment, every 6 months washing the panels as one would for a car, with a pre-rinse followed by a detergenty wash and finishing with a water rinse (all rainwater). For one string I used dishwashing detergent, and for the other string I used car "wash and wax". Results: substantially less dust on the "wash and wax" panels after 6 months, especially at the bottom end of the panels, for about 30 cm from the bottom. They are all 22 degrees roof mounted panels in the same orientation, but the two strings are at different heights on the roof.

I swapped treatments after two years in case the string position on the roof was influencing the outcome, but the results followed the treatment.

My only recommendation, other than to use wash and wax, is to use it more often that twice a year, as it loses its waxing/water beading effect before the 6 months is up, (maybe that will be the next experiment -- determine the wash and wax half-life, blocked by panel string, treatment by product).
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Re: Cleaning Solar Panels.

Postby australsolarier » Fri May 16, 2014 9:10 am

i am using a micro fibre mob. having said that, the cooling effect whilst cleaning is about 50 times bigger than what the cleaning brings. flying foxes droppings are very persistent, sort of rubbery gooey and the most difficult to clean. i get a lot of wax droppings from bees.
but to make it short, it is not worth the effort. unless a major event like a dust storm or something.
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Re: Cleaning Solar Panels.

Postby Sundance » Fri May 16, 2014 3:38 pm

australsolarier wrote:i am using a micro fibre mob. having said that, the cooling effect whilst cleaning is about 50 times bigger than what the cleaning brings. .



Well, if that is truly the case then maybe a solar powered water fountain pump spraying a fine mist of water over the panels with a solar powered fan unit to assist in cooling. And, no need to ever clean!!!!
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Re: Cleaning Solar Panels.

Postby Gordon-Loomberah » Fri May 16, 2014 3:49 pm

Sundance wrote: no need to ever clean!!!!


Other than removing the layer of moss/slime that would build up!
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Re: Cleaning Solar Panels.

Postby australsolarier » Fri May 16, 2014 3:50 pm

it truly is the case. we have been over it previously. it stands to reason water will cool down the panels and the cooler they are the more electricity they generate. try it out!!!
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