Dirty panels can decrease production. Usually by a few percent but in the case of persistent buildup over a long period of time the production can degrade considerably. In general, PV modules do not need much in the way of cleaning, however, in this part of the country we don’t get a lot of rain so cleaning is sometimes necessary.
Nearly every window washing company offers a solar panel cleaning service. They have all the right equipment, water, brushes, etc. to do a great job at cleaning panels. Ask your favorite window washer what they charge for cleaning your panels or go online and ask around for a reputable cleaner.
Pricing is typically either a charge per solar panel or a set hourly rate. Costs and estimates can vary depending on individual solar panel systems. According to HomeAdvisor.com, “the following conditions will affect your cost: system location, level of build-up, size, proximity to contractor, and the maintenance agreement.” Although, keeping up with your solar system’s annual inspection could help reduce maintenance costs in the future.
If you’re going to clean your own panels use the following guidelines:
● Clean in the morning, if possible, before the panels start heating up. If you have to clean them while they’re hot, mist or lightly spray them first to cool them down before cleaning.
● Wash the modules using plenty of water (tap water or deionized water). DO NOT use soap or detergent of any kind on the panels. You can damage the UV and anti-reflective coating and void the warranty.
● If necessary, a soft cleaning device (sponge or soft brush with split bristles) may be used. Panels can be dry broomed with a soft brush as well.
● Never scrape or rub the panels vigorously; this may result in micro-scratches and damage the coating.
● Don’t use a high-pressure washer on the panels. A sprayer is OK, but don’t force water onto the frame edges. Water intrusion will damage the panels and void your warranty.
● Don’t stand in pools of water while cleaning; remember, the panels are still producing electricity.
We recommend regular inspections (every six months) of the system to ensure that:
● All fixtures are securely tightened and corrosion-free;
● Wiring is securely connected, properly arranged and free of corrosion;
● Cables are free of damage;
● No loose wiring or cables are visible hanging down under the array.
If you notice anything that appears dangerous or outside of normal weathering, give us a call.
Ground Mount Arrays
Although wiring is tucked away using wire management techniques, there is live electricity running through the wires. It is advisable to keep children, pets, and other animals away from the arrays and particularly under them. Using vegetation around the arrays can help, and an inexpensive lattice fence can work well also.
Check the array periodically for plants growing in front of or through the array. It seems unlikely given the shade but it does occasionally happen. Consider mulch, pebbles, or other materials underneath the array to prevent weed growth.
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Sungenia’s mission is to make the solar process as simple and honest as possible, provide the best solution, and to make as many happy friends as we can.