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Automated Cleaning. Pv cleaning system

Automated Cleaning. Pv cleaning system

    Should You Clean Solar Panels? Your Questions Answered

    Within solar energy circles, cleaning solar panels is a hot topic of debate: should you or shouldn’t you? While some suggest that regularly washing panels is necessary to get the maximum solar conversion possible. Others feel that solar panels should only get a rinse off once in a while if you see a notably low solar output. Following the solar panel manufacturer’s maintenance suggestions is always a good place to start, but if you’re still not sure, read on to learn how to maintain and clean your solar panels.

    Do rigid solar panels need cleaning?

    Whether or not you might need to clean your solar panels really depends on a few main factors: the angle of your panels and your geography.

    • The position of your solar panels may affect the build-up of grime. If they’re lying flat, there’s a higher probability of muck sticking to the panels. On a gradient, dirt is more likely to roll down instead of staying in one place.
    • Your location may also play a part in how much filth your solar panels collect. If you’re in a desert-like area, panels are more likely to accumulate dust. Living near or in woods can cause a problematic build-up of pollen, leaves, and bird poop.

    How often do they need cleaning?

    While the situations mentioned above may affect how dirty your solar panels get, the best way to ‘clean’ your solar panels is by simply letting nature do its thing. A good rain shower will rinse dust and debris off the panels to keep them working at around 95% capacity. However, if where you live is extremely dry or experiencing a drought, you may need to hose them down, but this is only really necessary if you notice a problem.

    If you don’t have a clear view of your panels, setting up a camera that points towards them will allow you to keep an eye on dirt build-up and other issues. For example, if there’s a steep decline in power and variables such as sun intensity and Cloud cover are normal, then you may need to give your panels a clean.

    You can check solar output in a few different ways depending on the system you’re using.

    • For portable power stations or home backup batteries, simply check your screen or app to see the output.
    • To check a solar panel’s output directly, use a multimeter to check the voltage.

    How to clean solar panels

    If you think it’s necessary to go beyond the hose pipe, there are several options you can choose from.

    Solar cleaning services

    Hiring a company may be the most straightforward and safe choice if you have a whole roof array. The average cost of cleaning solar panels is around 150, but some solar panel installers offer a free or reduced-price cleaning service.

    Some solar panel manufacturers actually require you to clean your panels every six months to keep your warranty valid. Professional cleaning companies provide a washing service and also check for any damage done by birds and the environment.

    Automated solar panel cleaners

    Depending on the size of your solar panel array, position, and location, you may wish to invest in a programmable sprinkler cleaning system to regularly rinse off the panels. This is particularly handy if you live in a dry, hot location and don’t want the hassle of climbing a ladder to hose them down yourself.

    Solar panel robot cleaners are also available for both flat and inclined arrays. These automated robots also get their power from solar energy and don’t use water. Some run on tracks or use Smart mapping to clean solar panels using a spinning microfiber cloth.

    Solar panel cleaning costs

    So far, we have introduced 3 different ways to make your solar panels bright and shiny again; professional cleaning services, automated solar panel cleaning system, or by yourself.

    Now we’ve come to what everyone is most concerned about. Cha-ching. How much does each option cost? What’s the most cost-effective way to clean my panels? As regular maintenance is recommended, choosing the right one could save you from future tears.

    Option Including Good for Cost
    Solar panel cleaning services – Professional solar panel cleaning companies– Solar panel cleaning contractors – High roofs– Hard-to-access panels– A large number of panels– Hard water areas– Peace of mind 140-170
    Automated solar panel cleaners – Auto PV cleaning systems– Solar cleaning robots – A very large number of panels (such as solar farms)– Hard water areasPeace of mind 1500-3000
    Do it yourself – A hose, a soft sponge, a bucket, a soft cloth, a long-handed brush– Plus, a how-to YouTube video – Home solar panels– A small number of panels– Easily accessible panels – No cost at all if you already have these tools at home.– If not, you can probably get all of them for under 200.

    How do you clean solar panels yourself?

    If you do choose the do-it-yourself route, here are some things to be aware of:

    • Before you do anything, check with the panel manufacturer to see if they provide specific maintenance and cleaning instructions. Using the wrong tools or cleaning products may cause irreparable damage that reduces solar output and voids your warranty.
    • Shut down your system per the instruction manual, or unplug portable solar panels from a portable power station.
    • Most manufacturers suggest only using water to clean off your panels. Many cleaning products leave a residue that can sometimes affect efficiency. Depending on your location, you might also consider using distilled water. Hard tap water, in particular, contain minerals that may get left behind.
    • If there are stains left after using water, using a tiny amount of dish soap with a non-abrasive sponge will do the trick. Try not to use other cleaners such as laundry detergents or chemicals as they can react badly with solar cells.
    • Choose an overcast day or start early in the morning. Mid-morning heat causes the water to evaporate too quickly, leaving behind residue.

    Solar panel cleaning tools

    You won’t need any specialist equipment to clean your solar panels. A hose, a soft sponge, and a bucket should be enough to get the job done. Pressure washers aren’t advisable, as they can easily damage the solar cells. Instead of using soap, spray your panels with diluted white vinegar and then wipe them down with a sponge. Use a squeegee or a soft cloth to remove excess moisture.

    The ideal scenario is to clean from the ground, using a long-handled brush or a squeegee with a plastic blade.

    Cleaning solar panels on a roof

    If your only option is to get up on the roof yourself, make sure to take safety precautions like wearing a hard hat and harness.

    Cleaning portable solar panels on the ground

    Since portable solar panels can fold away, they may need less maintenance than rigid PV panels. Wash or wipe a portable solar panel with water or a damp cloth just like rigid panels. If you’ve been on a particularly muddy camping trip, or you’re using larger panels for home backup, you might need to give them a rinse. EcoFlow’s portable solar panels have an IP67 waterproof rating. Easily clean them with a slow stream of water when necessary.

    Unlike rigid panels, portable solar panels offer you the flexibility of placement and use with the same, if not better solar charging capabilities.

    While EcoFlow’s solar panel portability makes them perfect for camping, you can also use them like rooftop PV panel systems. In combination with portable power stations, solar panels can prepare your home for outages or power your entire house using solar energy. Not only that but with a home battery ecosystem, such as EcoFlow’s DELTA Pro’s you can manage and customize your home energy. Surplus energy is stored in portable power stations, so you’re always ready for an unexpected power cut, cloudy day, or even a camping trip. With the Smart Home Panel, you can use existing AC coupled solar panels with DELTA Pro and its ecosystem.

    Automated Cleaning

    Utility-scale solar plants are well suited for places with strong sunlight and large areas of land that are covered neither by farms nor forest. However, solar panel soiling from wind-driven dust can be a major issue in these places. In semi-arid locations such as the San Joaquin Valley, in California, USA, unaddressed seasonal soiling can be severe enough to significantly degrade a project’s rate of return. In dusty arid places like Saudi Arabia or Rajasthan, India, year-round soiling conditions can make solar projects unviable unless regular solar panel cleaning is employed.

    Alion Energy’s SPOT Panel Cleaning System

    Alion Energy has developed a robotic solar plant cleaning solution to make effective, frequent panel cleaning fit into a project’s tight Operations and Maintenance budget. The racking and vehicle system have been designed together to elegantly leverage automation in a cost-effective way.

    Alion Energy’s SPOT Cleaning System

    • The racking’s concrete ballast serves as a track for the vehicle. The vehicle neither drives dust into the air from driving on the ground nor puts weight on the panels or racking structure.
    • The robotic vehicle operates autonomously while cleaning a solar panel row and carries its own water, ensuring high quality, repeatable cleaning results with very low labor usage.
    • The vehicle moves from row to row, keeping robot count to a minimum. This reduces costs substantially, increases equipment flexibility, and reduces maintenance tasks versus solutions with one robot per row.

    SPOT Cleaning Vehicle Components

    The patent-pending SPOT Cleaning Vehicle is a track-based driving robot with a cleaning head, a water tank, a propulsion and energy system, and a control system. The cleaning head draws water from a water tank to deposit water on the solar panels and uses a spinning brush and a wiper to clean the panels. Alternatively, a dry-cleaning mode can be employed under certain soiling conditions to conserve water. The vehicle is driven by electric motors connected to the wheels. The vehicle is self-powered; a solar panel charges a battery system to provide power for the motors.

    Components of the SPOT Cleaning System

    The Most Power from PV

    Alion Energy provides the best tracker, kept clean to deliver the most energy and ballasted to perform in the most challenging sites.

    Maximize Energy Yield

    Reflective, ballasted foundations, paired with automated cleaning solutions, plus a durable, high wind capable tracker design, improve energy yield and protect against performance loss.

    Lowest Solar LCOE

    Alion Energy builds local, utility scale projects faster and for lower cost, while producing more energy yield than standard pv tracker projects. Generate higher returns with the lowest cost of power in the industry.

    Benefits of Cleaning Solar Panels

    Have you noticed your solar system is producing less energy lately? Debris buildup interferes with a solar panel’s ability to absorb sunlight, causing a drop in energy production. Keeping your solar panels operating at maximum efficiency is just one of the benefits of cleaning your solar panels.

    If you want a return on investment with your solar panels, it starts with making sure your solar panels stay clean.

    What are Solar Panels?

    You probably associate solar panels with the advantages of saving money and reducing your carbon footprint by providing a renewable energy source. A solar panel absorbs sunlight and converts it into usable energy, supplying buildings with clean energy.

    Solar panels are expensive, although fortunately tax credits and rebates are available to help offset the cost. Solar panels require a lot of room, so you’ll want to make sure your roof is suited for hosting a solar array.

    Lifespans vary depending on the type of solar panel, but on average, solar panels typically last 25 to 30 years.

    The process of solar panels converting sunlight into energy occurs in a few steps:

    • Solar photovoltaic cells absorb sunlight.
    • The collected sunlight is converted into direct current (DC) power.
    • The DC power passes through an inverter to convert it into alternate current (AC) power.
    • The AC power is then transported to outlets. From there, it provides power to the building.

    Excess energy can be stored in a solar battery if you have one. Solar batteries save extra energy for a cloudy day. Otherwise, excess energy can be supplied to the power grid in exchange for tax rebates.

    Benefits of Cleaning Your Solar Panels

    Soiling occurs when dirt and grime accumulate on the surface of a solar panel. The layer of grime decreases panel performance.

    Solar panel productivity is dependent on the amount of sunlight it absorbs each day, so regular solar panel cleaning helps ensure that it continues producing optimal output. Cleaning your panels is an important part of solar panel maintenance.

    Increases Energy Efficiency

    Clean panels produce more energy than dirty panels, and can boost efficiency by up to 30%. You don’t want your solar panel system to decrease in productivity, so it’s important to keep them clean and performing optimally.

    Usually, solar panel owners can monitor the solar energy output of their solar array by tracking it on a monitoring app. You should check the progress of your solar panels every so often to see if there have been any unusual decreases in productivity. If so, it may mean that the solar panels need to be cleaned.

    Improves ROI Time

    If you have underperforming solar panels, it means you are losing money. You want your solar panels to pay themselves off as quickly as possible. Once the panels have paid for themselves, then the energy your solar panels are producing is saving on energy bills.

    The more consistent the output, the quicker the solar panels will pay themselves off and start saving you money on electricity bills in the long run. If you procrastinate on cleaning your panels, their underperformance will cost you money.

    Warranty Conditions

    Many solar panel manufacturers offer warranties that demand regular cleaning as a condition of the warranty agreement. Failure to regularly clean your panels could mean your solar panels are no longer covered because it voids the warranty.

    Increases Lifespan

    When dirty, technological solar equipment is likely to fail sooner than equipment that is kept cleaned and well-maintained.

    Accumulated gunk on solar panels will ultimately decrease the durability and productivity of the device. It can even decrease a panel’s lifespan. So don’t allow your solar panels to sit coated in a layer of grime for a long time.

    Keeps Aesthetic Appeal

    No one wants to look at a dirt-crusted solar array. Maintaining a clean solar panel system improves the home’s curb appeal and keeps your solar array looking sleek and modern.

    Prevents Hot Spots

    Hot spots occur when parts of your solar panels overheat due to dust buildup. Hot spots deteriorate a solar panel and decrease its lifespan. Keeping the solar panel clean protects it from developing hot spots.

    Chance for Inspection

    Cleaning your solar panels gives you the perfect chance to inspect them. Before you start cleaning the panels, you can examine them for damage and assess whether they need any repairs. It also allows you a chance to inspect the rest of your roof.

    What Causes Solar Panels to Get Dirty

    The outdoors is a great place to be, but it also can be messy. Inevitably, your solar panels will get dirty. Here are some things you will have to clean off your panels:

    • Dirt
    • Dust
    • Bird droppings
    • Foliage
    • Leaves
    • Pollen
    • Pollution
    • Salt
    • Sap
    • Smog
    • Smoke
    • Snow
    • Wind
    • Water stains

    Rain washes off some of the grime on solar panels. The problem is that rain itself carries dust particles, which makes solar panels dirty and leaves behind water streaks. A little rainwater might not be enough to wash away things like bird droppings and water stains.

    Solar panels in dry-climate states such as Arizona, Nevada, or Utah require more frequent cleanings due to the amount of dust in the air. Areas with smog or dust pollutants also soil your solar panels more quickly,

    On top of that, solar panels are generally set relatively flat toward the sky so they are fully exposed and directly catch a lot of dirt and grime. To avoid water stains, panels are usually set at a slight tilt so that they can properly shed rainwater.

    Do’s and Don’ts of Cleaning Solar Panels

    Before you get started with your cleaning project, here are some helpful tips and tricks you should know. They will help you achieve the best results as well as provide advice on how to clean your solar panels safely.

    DO turn off solar panels. Before anything else, the first thing you should always do is to turn off the solar panel system. Never clean solar panels while they are still turned on. Rinsing a solar panel with water while it is still turned on is extremely dangerous. It can lead to electrocution.

    DO clean panels from the ground. Never climb onto your roof unless absolutely unavoidable. Always clean solar panels from the ground or from the edge of a roof if possible. Use a long-handled brush for reach.

    DO use soft-bristled brushes. Abrasive or hard-bristled brushes can damage a solar panel, so always use soft-bristled brushes and soft clothes for cleaning. Less abrasive materials protect your roof from abrasion and scratching.

    DO dry off the panels. After you finish rinsing the solar panels with water, you should dry them off with a soft cloth. Just like when you wash your car, don’t let water air dry on your solar panels, as that will leave behind nuisance water stains.

    DON’T use a pressure washer. Never use a pressure washer or any jet blasts of water for cleaning solar panels. Pressure washers use forceful jets of water to clean off grime. This will surely result in cracking the glass or otherwise damaging your solar panel system.

    DON’T walk on solar panels. Never walk on solar panels. Solar panels are expensive technological gadgets that are not designed for foot traffic, so don’t step on them. Putting your full weight on a panel could crack the glass or damage the wiring.

    DON’T clean solar panels in the heat of the day. Sunlight charges photovoltaic solar cells, which warms up the panels. Avoid cleaning the solar panels when the device is hot, as the temperature shock of cold water can cause the glass to crack and water evaporates more quickly off of hot solar panels, which can leave behind residue. Instead, clean your panels during mornings, evenings, overcast days, or cool days.

    DON’T use cold water. Keep in mind the temperature of the water you are using for your solar panels. Don’t use cold water if the solar panels are warm, and conversely, don’t use hot water if the panels are cold. Sudden extreme temperature changes can cause the glass to crack. Because solar panels absorb heat, they are generally warm, so you should use lukewarm water.

    DON’T use hard water. Hard water contains high levels of minerals which leave behind white residue and water stains. Instead of hard water, use calcium-free water or distilled water, which is free of chemicals.

    Best Way to Clean Solar Panels

    Be cautious when cleaning your solar panels. Although they are tough enough to weather the outdoor elements, they have some delicate parts and wiring. Water leaking inside the panel or using the wrong cleaning chemical can ruin your solar panel system. When it comes to solar panel maintenance, you need to use a cleaning method that won’t harm them.

    Regular solar panel cleaning is important. Here are some ideas for cleaning equipment you can use for getting debris off of your solar panels.

    Automated Sprinkler System

    If you want your solar array to be self-cleaning, automatic sprinkler systems can be installed on your roof to keep your solar panels clean. These automated cleaning robots are programmed to spray down your solar array with water, automatically rinsing them.

    The benefit of automatic cleaning robots is that they require no human labor. Without lifting a finger, you can create a cleaning schedule to ensure your solar array is cleaned at regular intervals.

    automated, cleaning, system

    It saves you the expense of hiring a roofing contractor or risking injury from a DIY job.

    Hose

    The best way to scrub off dirt from your solar panels is to wash off the dust and grime with a hose. Sometimes a simple rinse is enough to remove the accumulated dust, dirt, and pollen, although you will need to dry off the panels afterwards in order to prevent water stains.

    Soft Brush

    If a simple hose rinse-down isn’t enough to effectively clean panels, use a squeegee, sponge, or soft brush to scrub off any stubborn debris clinging to the surface.

    automated, cleaning, system

    Don’t use a hard-bristled brush, and don’t scrub too hard. You don’t want to damage or scratch the solar panel glass.

    Ideally, you want to find a long-handled brush so you can scrub the panels from the edge of the roof so you can avoid climbing on top of your roof unless it is absolutely necessary.

    Soft Cloth

    Use a soft cloth to scrub or dry your solar panels. Make sure not to use any abrasive or rough materials. Definitely do not use steel wool for cleaning a solar panel, as that is certain to scratch the solar panel.

    Broom

    If it’s only a case of dust and you want to do a quick cleaning job without the waterworks, you use a broom to sweep off the dust covering your solar panels.

    The broom needs to be fairly soft and malleable; don’t use a broom with rough bristles. Gently clean so as to not damage or break the machinery.

    Leaf Blower

    If a lot of leaves accumulate on your roof, you can blow them all away with a leaf blower. Leaf blowers are also useful for dislocating dirt gathered on the surface of your solar panels.

    Vinegar

    If you want to give your solar array a thorough cleaning, you can clean them with a soft brush, water, and vinegar.

    Not every type of vinegar is safe for cleaning the surface of your solar panel, so stick to using white vinegar or another approved cleaner.

    To create a vinegar solution, mix these ingredients together:

    Do not use cooking vinegar. Cooking vinegar has higher levels of acid that will damage the solar panels. White vinegar is the best kind of vinegar to use for cleaning solar panels (and anything around your home).

    Cleaning Solution

    Soaps and detergents are not great for cleaning solar panels, as they tend to leave behind streaks that hinder the panel’s ability to absorb sunlight. Water stains caused by soaps defeat the purpose of cleaning the solar panels in the first place and make it easier for dirt and dust to cling to your roof.

    Only use mild, non-abrasive soaps. Avoid harsh soaps such as laundry detergents. If you want soapy water for a cleaning solution, try using mild soaps such as dish soap. Just make sure the soap is properly diluted in water.

    Don’t use acidic or alcoholic solutions. These cause damage to the solar panels.

    Always be careful about which cleaning chemical you use, as some cleaning solutions are harsh chemicals that could harm your solar panels.

    Cleaning Kit

    You can purchase cleaning kits for solar panels. These kits come with all the equipment you need to do the job. Typically, these pre-arranged kits include tools such as:

    • Biodegradable soap
    • Soft-bristled brush
    • Wiper
    • Squeegee
    • Soft cleaning cloth
    • Extension pole

    Cleaning the Solar Inverter

    A solar inverter, the device that transforms energy absorbed from the sun into usable electricity, requires cleaning every so often if you want them to keep producing solar power.

    Solar inverters are placed outside, leaving them exposed to the elements and prone to getting dirty from all the dust wafting through the air. Dust inside an inverter can damage the circuit board and cause circuit failure. If that happens, the device will stop working.

    Solar inverters require regular maintenance. To clean an inverter, simply wipe it down with a cotton cloth to remove dirt and dust. Don’t pour water over a solar inverter. Simply using a damp cloth or a little water spray should suffice for cleaning off your inverter.

    Every so often, you also need to have a technician clean out the air intake filter. Do not attempt this task yourself; call an experienced professional.

    How Often Should You Clean Solar Panels?

    On average, you should clean your solar panels two to four times a year. It all depends on the area you live in and how much rain you get. In some areas, solar panels may only need to be cleaned once a year.

    Some factors that affect how often your solar panels need to be cleaned include:

    • Drought. Even in areas that aren’t normally dry or dusty, a drought can cause more dirt to infiltrate the air, which leads to your solar system getting dirtier faster.
    • Dry areas. Areas that don’t receive frequent rainfall are dustier, so panels in arid, desert-like areas get dirtier more quickly, and thus require more frequent cleanings.
    • Smog. Smog dirties solar panels, causing them to need more frequent cleaning.
    • Trees. Where there’s trees, there’s leaves and pollen. Leaves and pollen both obstruct solar cells from receiving sunlight and converting it into energy.
    • Wind. The wind carries around debris such as pollen, dust, dirt, and leaves, and brings them all right to your roof.

    If you live in an area with a lot of dust, you’ll probably have to clean your solar panels more frequently in order to keep them regularly producing solar power.

    DIY or Hire a Professional to Clean Solar Panels?

    Now comes the big question: Should you hire a professional to clean your solar panels, or should you do the job yourself? While the decision is ultimately yours, you should consider the pros and cons of both options.

    DIY

    It is possible to clean solar panels yourself with a regular garden hose and your own vinegar cleaning solution.

    If you decide that you’d prefer a DIY job, gather the materials before you start. Don’t just think about cleaning supplies – you’ll also need safety equipment for your protection. Here is a list of things you’ll probably want to have on hand for a DIY cleaning job:

    • Ladder
    • Hose
    • Cleaning solution
    • Harness
    • Hard hat
    • Work gloves
    • Cleaning solution
    • Brush
    • Cleaning cloth

    If you plan on cleaning your panels yourself, you should have a partner to help you.

    Hire a Professional

    A big advantage of hiring a pro is that you won’t have to deal with the hassle of purchasing all the equipment yourself. Trained professionals already have all the equipment they need for a solar panel cleaning project:

    • Specialized brushes
    • Ladders
    • Harnesses
    • Water tanks
    • Cleaning solutions

    In addition to cleaning your roof, a contractor can check for damage or issues with your solar panels and repair any problems with your solar system. On average, the cost for solar panel cleaning services ranges 5 to 35 per panel.

    Some good reasons to hire a professional for solar panel cleaning:

    • You don’t have the right equipment. If you don’t already own a ladder, harness, or any of the cleaning supplies you need, you may want to hire a pro.
    • You are comfortable and experienced with climbing on a ladder and roof. Specialists are professionally trained to clean solar panels on roofs, so they are far less likely to sustain an injury when working on top of a roof. If you aren’t comfortable with being on a roof, then you should hire out the job.
    • You have physical limitations. If you are elderly or have any physical limitations, call a contractor to clean your panels for you and don’t take unnecessary risks.
    • You don’t have time. Employing a professional solar panel cleaner saves you both time and effort so you can FOCUS on other things.

    Hiring a trained specialist doesn’t only reduce personal risk, it also reduces the risk to your solar panels, as well. If you are inexperienced with solar panel cleaning, you won’t risk mistakes such as accidentally using the wrong kind of chemical cleaning solution or scrubbing too hard and scratching the roof.

    automated, cleaning, system

    FAQs About the Benefits of Cleaning Solar Panels

    Yes. Windex is a good cleaning product for solar panels that you can easily spray on your solar panels to clean them. It is a cheap product that you can find for sale in many stores.

    You can purchase a brush for cleaning solar panels from multiple companies, including Amazon, supermarket stores like Wal-Mart, or hardware stores such as Home Depot.

    Solar panels are generally hardy and durable, as they are built to withstand rough weather conditions such as hails, storms, and high winds. However, some of the wiring is delicate and they do have a front surface made of glass, so they are susceptible to breakage if not handled properly. Solar panels are not easily damaged, but they should always be treated with care to prevent them from getting damaged.

    A Time to Clean

    There are multiple options for cleaning your solar panel system: hire a solar panel cleaning company, do it yourself, or purchase an automatic cleaning machine. You will have to consider what works best for your lifestyle and your budget.

    If you think hiring a professional solar panel cleaner for the job is best, then contact a solar panel cleaner today.

    Danielle Gorski

    Danielle Gorski lives with her family in Texas. She has a degree in Professional Studies and a minor in marketing. Her hobbies include reading, drawing, and writing.

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    EP2048455A2. Automatic solar panel cleaning system. Google Patents

    Publication number EP2048455A2 EP2048455A2 EP08380284A EP08380284A EP2048455A2 EP 2048455 A2 EP2048455 A2 EP 2048455A2 EP 08380284 A EP08380284 A EP 08380284A EP 08380284 A EP08380284 A EP 08380284A EP 2048455 A2 EP2048455 A2 EP 2048455A2 Authority EP European Patent Office Prior art keywords drive unit longitudinal rails solar panel cleaning brushes cleaning Prior art date 2007-10-09 Legal status (The legal status is an assumption and is not a legal conclusion. Google has not performed a legal analysis and makes no representation as to the accuracy of the status listed.) Withdrawn Application number EP08380284A Other languages German ( de ) French ( fr ) Other versions EP2048455A3 ( en Inventor Juan Jose Castellano Diaz Current Assignee (The listed assignees may be inaccurate. Google has not performed a legal analysis and makes no representation or warranty as to the accuracy of the list.) Brown Advance SA Original Assignee Brown Group Spain SA Priority date (The priority date is an assumption and is not a legal conclusion. Google has not performed a legal analysis and makes no representation as to the accuracy of the date listed.) 2007-10-09 Filing date 2008-10-07 Publication date 2009-04-15 2008-10-07 Application filed by Brown Group Spain SA filed Critical Brown Group Spain SA 2009-04-15 Publication of EP2048455A2 publication Critical patent/EP2048455A2/en 2012-04-04 Publication of EP2048455A3 publication Critical patent/EP2048455A3/en Status Withdrawn legal-status Critical Current

    Links

    • 238000004140 cleaning Methods 0.000 title claims abstract description 39
    • 238000006073 displacement reaction Methods 0.000 claims abstract description 11
    • 230000005540 biological transmission Effects 0.000 claims description 7
    • XLYOFNOQVPJJNP-UHFFFAOYSA-N water Substances O XLYOFNOQVPJJNP-UHFFFAOYSA-N 0.000 claims description 6
    • 239000000428 dust Substances 0.000 description 2
    • 230000003213 activating Effects 0.000 description 1
    • 230000004913 activation Effects 0.000 description 1
    • 230000004075 alteration Effects 0.000 description 1
    • 230000000295 complement Effects 0.000 description 1
    • 238000009434 installation Methods 0.000 description 1
    • 239000000463 material Substances 0.000 description 1
    • 239000002245 particle Substances 0.000 description 1
    • 239000000725 suspension Substances 0.000 description 1

    Images

    Classifications

    • F — MECHANICAL ENGINEERING; LIGHTING; HEATING; WEAPONS; BLASTING
    • F24 — HEATING; RANGES; VENTILATING
    • F24S — SOLAR HEAT COLLECTORS; SOLAR HEAT SYSTEMS
    • F24S40/00 — Safety or protection arrangements of solar heat collectors; Preventing malfunction of solar heat collectors
    • F24S40/20 — Cleaning; Removing snow
    • H — ELECTRICITY
    • H02 — GENERATION; CONVERSION OR DISTRIBUTION OF ELECTRIC POWER
    • H02S — GENERATION OF ELECTRIC POWER BY CONVERSION OF INFRA-RED RADIATION, VISIBLE LIGHT OR ULTRAVIOLET LIGHT, e.g. USING PHOTOVOLTAIC [PV] MODULES
    • H02S40/00 — Components or accessories in combination with PV modules, not provided for in groups H02S10/00. H02S30/00
    • H02S40/10 — Cleaning arrangements
    • B — PERFORMING OPERATIONS; TRANSPORTING
    • B08 — CLEANING
    • B08B — CLEANING IN GENERAL; PREVENTION OF FOULING IN GENERAL
    • B08B1/00 — Cleaning by methods involving the use of tools, brushes, or analogous members
    • B08B1/001 — Cleaning by methods involving the use of tools, brushes, or analogous members characterised by the type of cleaning tool
    • B08B1/002 — Brushes
    • B — PERFORMING OPERATIONS; TRANSPORTING
    • B08 — CLEANING
    • B08B — CLEANING IN GENERAL; PREVENTION OF FOULING IN GENERAL
    • B08B1/00 — Cleaning by methods involving the use of tools, brushes, or analogous members
    • B08B1/04 — Cleaning by methods involving the use of tools, brushes, or analogous members using rotary operative members
    • F — MECHANICAL ENGINEERING; LIGHTING; HEATING; WEAPONS; BLASTING
    • F24 — HEATING; RANGES; VENTILATING
    • F24S — SOLAR HEAT COLLECTORS; SOLAR HEAT SYSTEMS
    • F24S50/00 — Arrangements for controlling solar heat collectors
    • Y — GENERAL TAGGING OF NEW TECHNOLOGICAL DEVELOPMENTS; GENERAL TAGGING OF CROSS-SECTIONAL TECHNOLOGIES SPANNING OVER SEVERAL SECTIONS OF THE IPC; TECHNICAL SUBJECTS COVERED BY FORMER USPC CROSS-REFERENCE ART COLLECTIONS [XRACs] AND DIGESTS
    • Y02 — TECHNOLOGIES OR APPLICATIONS FOR MITIGATION OR ADAPTATION AGAINST CLIMATE CHANGE
    • Y02E — REDUCTION OF GREENHOUSE GAS [GHG] EMISSIONS, RELATED TO ENERGY GENERATION, TRANSMISSION OR DISTRIBUTION
    • Y02E10/00 — Energy generation through renewable energy sources
    • Y02E10/40 — Solar thermal energy, e.g. solar towers
    • Y — GENERAL TAGGING OF NEW TECHNOLOGICAL DEVELOPMENTS; GENERAL TAGGING OF CROSS-SECTIONAL TECHNOLOGIES SPANNING OVER SEVERAL SECTIONS OF THE IPC; TECHNICAL SUBJECTS COVERED BY FORMER USPC CROSS-REFERENCE ART COLLECTIONS [XRACs] AND DIGESTS
    • Y02 — TECHNOLOGIES OR APPLICATIONS FOR MITIGATION OR ADAPTATION AGAINST CLIMATE CHANGE
    • Y02E — REDUCTION OF GREENHOUSE GAS [GHG] EMISSIONS, RELATED TO ENERGY GENERATION, TRANSMISSION OR DISTRIBUTION
    • Y02E10/00 — Energy generation through renewable energy sources
    • Y02E10/50 — Photovoltaic [PV] energy

    Abstract

    This system comprises:. longitudinal rails (1). cleaning brushes (3). a drive unit (2) mounted with possibility of linear displacement along the longitudinal rails (1) and provided with at least one motor element (4) for the rotational actuation of the cleaning brushes (3) and the movement of said cleaning brushes (3), together with the drive unit (2), along the longitudinal rails (1). an electric control panel (5) and. a rain sensor (6) for the automatic start-up of the drive unit (2).

    Description

    Currently, the use of solar panels for the collection of solar energy is a common practice. Obviously, these solar panels are installed outdoors in order to achieve a direct impact from the solar light, and when dealing with facilities of a certain scope, in the countryside or rural areas.

    Given that solar panels are kept at a slope, which can be variable or fixed, dust and particles in suspension are left on the surface of the panel, forming a layer or film which makes the impact of the solar rays on the surface of the solar panel difficult and consequently considerably reduces its performance.

    In order to achieve an optimal performance of the solar panel it is necessary to clean it periodically and eliminate the dirt accumulated thereupon. This operation is currently carried out manually, which poses several drawbacks, such as: high maintenance personnel costs, risk of accidents of the operators who have to use ladders or other lifting means to access the surface of the panel and the drawback of transporting tools and water or other cleaning products to the area where the panels are located.

    In order to solve the previously mentioned problems, the automatic solar panel cleaning system object of the invention has been invented, which features constructive special features aimed at permitting its assembly on the support structure, fixed or mobile, of the solar panel and to carry out the cleaning of the solar panel automatically and without the intervention of operators, using rain water for said purpose. This system provides advantages of use; whereamongst should be mentioned a considerable reduction in the cleaning costs of the solar panels and the maintenance of the clean panels, which optimizes its performance.

    In order to do that, and in accordance with the invention, this system comprises: longitudinal rails intended to be fastened exteriorly on opposite sides of the support structure, so that said rails are disposed on a plane parallel to the solar panel. cleaning brushes positioned transversally with respect to the longitudinal rails and mounted with possibility of rotation with respect to a drive unit. a drive unit mounted with possibility of linear displacement along the longitudinal rails and provided with at least one motor element for the rotational actuation of the brushes and the movement of said cleaning brushes, together with the drive unit, along the longitudinal rails. an electric control panel and. a rain sensor that sends a signal to the electric control panel and causes the start-up of the drive unit when it receives rain water.

    The longitudinal rails are fastened by means of supports suitable in each case to the support structure of the panel, said longitudinal rails defining the alternative movement direction of the drive unit and the cleaning brushes.

    In accordance with the invention, the cleaning brushes form at least one alignment which covers the existing distance between the two longitudinal rails, or what is the same, the total width of the solar panel, so that when the brushes move along the rails due to the action of the drive unit, said brushes will clean the entire surface of the panel in a single passing.

    According to the invention, the drive unit is connected to at least one of the longitudinal rails by means of a linear displacement transmission mechanism.

    This transmission mechanism is in charge of causing the linear or longitudinal displacement of the drive unit and the cleaning brushes along the rails when said drive unit enters into operation. Said linear displacement transmission mechanism can be a rack and pinion mechanism or of any other type, since that does not change the essence of the invention.

    Nevertheless, depending on the average rainfall in the installation area of the solar panels, the electronic control panel also permits the programming of additional cleanings during summertime or long periods of drought, so that the brushes make a dry sweep of the dust gathered on the solar panel, improving the performance of the panels.

    In inoperative position, the cleaning brushes and the drive unit will be disposed at one of the ends of the longitudinal rails so that they do not interfere in the impact of the solar rays on the panel. When the system enters into operation the cleaning rollers begin rotating and advancing due to the action of the drive unit along the longitudinal rails, said rollers actuating on the entirety of the surface of the panel. During the work cycle, said cleaning rollers can perform one of more paths along the rails, depending on the parameters of the work cycle introduced previously in the electric control panel, finally remaining positioned at one of the ends of the rails.

    In the event that the system has been activated by the rain sensor, after performing the cleaning cycle, the system will remain inactive for a pre-established time, preventing the rain sensor from activating it again during said period of time.

    In order to complement the description being carried out and with the aim of helping towards the understanding of the characteristics of the invention, the present specification is accompanied with a set of drawings wherein the following, in an illustrative and non-limitative manner, has been represented:

    In the example of embodiment shown in the figures, the automatic solar panel cleaning system comprises longitudinal rails (1) whereupon is mounted a drive unit (2) with possibility of alternative linear displacement.

    Said drive unit (2) is bearer of cleaning brushes (3), appreciably cylindrical which form an alignment positioned transversally with respect to the longitudinal rails (1), covering the existing space between said rails.

    In the example shown, the drive unit (2) comprises two motors (2) which, when activated simultaneously cause the rotation of the cleaning brushes (3) and the linear displacement of the assembly formed by the cleaning brushes (3) and the drive unit (2) along the longitudinal rails (1).

    The motors (4) of the drive unit are connected to the longitudinal rails (1) by means of transmission mechanisms for the linear displacement of the drive unit (2) along the rails. In this example of embodiment the transmission mechanisms are composed of two pinions (41) actuated by the motors (4) and respective racks (11) fastened to the longitudinal rails (1).

    The simultaneous actuation of the motors (4) guarantees a linear displacement of the drive unit (2) and the cleaning brushes (3) in a perfectly parallel direction to the longitudinal rails, which facilitates the guided movement of the drive unit on said longitudinal rails (1).

    The system additionally comprises an electric control panel (5) for the activation and de-activation of the drive unit (2) and a rain sensor (6) connected to the aforementioned electric control panel (5).

    When the rain detector (6) receives rain water it sends a signal to the electric control panel (5), automatically causing the start-up of the drive unit (2) and consequently the advancement of the drive unit (2) along the longitudinal rails (1) and the rotation of the cleaning brushes (3) which use the rain water to carry out the cleaning of that solar panel (7) whereon the cleaning system is installed.

    The assembly of the system is carried out by fastening the longitudinal rails (1) by means of suitable supports to the support structure of the solar panel (7) in question, so that the cleaning brushes (3) are parallel to the solar panel (7) and make contact during the operation of the system on the upper surface of said solar panel (7), performing the cleaning thereof.

    The nature of the invention having been sufficiently described, as well as a preferred example of embodiment, it should be mentioned for the appropriate purposes that the materials, shape, size and arrangement of the elements described can be modified, as long as that does not mean an alteration of the essential characteristics of the invention, which is claimed below.

    Claims ( 4 )

    Automatic solar panel cleaning system; characterized in that it comprises:. longitudinal rails (1) intended to be fastened exteriorly on opposite sides of the support structure of the solar panel (7), on a plane parallel to said solar panel (7). cleaning brushes (3) positioned transversally with respect to the longitudinal rails (1) and mounted with possibility of rotation with respect to a drive unit (2). a drive unit (2) mounted with possibility of linear displacement along the longitudinal rails (1) and provided with at least one motor element (1) for the rotational actuation of the cleaning brushes (3) and the movement of said cleaning brushes (3), together with the drive unit (2), along the longitudinal rails (1). an electric control panel (5) and. a rain sensor (6) that sends a signal to the electric control panel (5) and causes the start-up of the drive unit (2) when it receives rain water.

    System, according to claim 1, characterized in that the cleaning brushes (3) form at least one alignment which covers the distance existing between the two longitudinal rails (1).

    System, according to previous claims, characterized in that the drive unit (2) is connected to at least one of the longitudinal rails by means of a transmission mechanism which causes the linear displacement of the drive unit (2) along the longitudinal rails (1) when said drive unit (2) is activated.

    System, according to claim 3, characterized in that the transmission mechanism comprises at least one pinion (41) actuated by a motor (4) and a rack (11) fastened to one of the longitudinal guides (1).

    Applications Claiming Priority (1)

    Application Number Priority Date Filing Date Title
    ES200702658A ES2322745B1 ( en ) 2007-10-09 2007-10-09 AUTOMATIC SOLAR PANEL CLEANING SYSTEM.

    Family Applications (1)

    Application Number Title Priority Date Filing Date
    EP08380284A Withdrawn EP2048455A3 ( en ) 2007-10-09 2008-10-07 Automatic solar panel cleaning system

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    MIT scientists develop PV cleaning system based on electrostatic repulsion

    Scientists from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology have developed a system that can be operated at a voltage of around 12V, with a 95% recovery rate for lost power after cleaning. The waterless system can be operated automatically via an electric motor.

    Image: Massachusetts Institute of Technology

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    Scientists from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology have developed a lab-scale solar module cleaning system prototype that uses electrostatic repulsion to cause dust particles to detach and virtually leap off the surface of panels.

    They described the system in “Electrostatic dust removal using adsorbed moisture–assisted charge induction for sustainable operation of solar panels,” which was recently published in Science Advances. They said it is a device that is able to “actively charge” dust particles and impart strong Coulombic force for dust repulsion.

    “Our approach overcomes the prior limitations that occur due to reliance on relatively weak, short-range dielectrophoretic/triboelectric force and eliminates the issue of electrical shorting,” the scientists explained.

    The waterless system can be operated automatically via an electric motor and is activated by an electrode placed on top of the module surface. The electric charge it releases repels dust particles from the panels. The bottom electrode consists of a glass plate coated with a 5 nm transparent and conductive layer of aluminum-doped zinc oxide (AZO), using atomic layer deposition (ALD). It is mobile to avoid shading and moves along the panel during cleaning with a linear guide stepper motor mechanism.

    The system can be operated at a voltage of around 12V. The researchers said that it can recover 95% of the lost power after cleaning for particle sizes greater than around 30 μm.

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    “We use Arizona test dust (intermediate and miscellaneous test dust fractions from Powder Technology Inc.), also known as crystalline silica dust, whose chemical composition emulates that of typical desert mineral dust particles in our experiments,” the researchers said.

    One of the researchers, Sreedath Panati, said that the group performed experiments at a range of humidity levels, from 5% to 95%. “As long as the ambient humidity is greater than 30%, you can remove almost all of the particles from the surface, but as humidity decreases, it becomes harder,” said Panati.

    The simulations showed that the electricity consumption of the device is negligible.

    “There is no current flow between the top and bottom electrodes and therefore no electrical power consumption. The only mode of power consumption is that associated with the translation of the moving electrode,” they said, noting that more cost reductions could be achieved by further reducing the thickness of the electrode coating.

    This content is protected by copyright and may not be reused. If you want to cooperate with us and would like to reuse some of our content, please contact: editors@pv-magazine.com.

    Emiliano Bellini

    Emiliano joined pv magazine in March 2017. He has been reporting on solar and renewable energy since 2009.

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