Easy Step-by-Step Guide for Solar Panel Maintenance
Solar panels are a great way to save money on your energy bills and do your part for the environment. But like all things, they require a little maintenance from time to time to keep them running at peak efficiency.
Here are some tips on how to keep your solar panels in tip-top shape all year round.
Regularly Check For Debris
Make sure your solar panels are free of dirt, dust, leaves and any other debris. This can be done by simply wiping them down with a clean, dry cloth or using a soft brush to remove any build-up. You should also check that the area around your solar panels is clear of debris so that air can circulate freely.
Cleaning Your Panels Regularly Is Essential
One of the most important aspects of solar panel maintenance is keeping your panels clean. For best results, clean your panels at least once a month with a soft cloth or brush. You can also hire a professional solar panel cleaning service to do it for you.
Check The Connections
From time to time, you should check all the connections between your solar panels and make sure they’re secure. This includes the connections between the panels themselves and between the panels and the inverter. Loose connections can cause voltage drops and decreased energy production, so keep them tight!
Inspect For Damage
It’s also wise to inspect your solar panels for any signs of physical damage. Look for cracks, gaps or missing parts – anything that looks out of place. If you find any damage, have it repaired as soon as possible so that it doesn’t get worse and decrease the efficiency of your system.
Trim Tree Branches Around The System
If there are trees or shrubs near your solar system, trim them back regularly. Overhanging branches can cast shadows on your panels, which reduces their efficiency. So, make sure to keep those branches trimmed!
Monitor System Performance
To make sure your system is performing optimally, you should monitor its performance regularly. Check things like the output of your inverter and the electricity usage at your home or business. If you notice any changes that don’t make sense, it could indicate a problem with your system that needs to be addressed.
How Do You Know If Your Solar Panels Are Performing As They Should?
One indication is your monthly energy bill. If it hasn’t decreased as expected or has increased, it could be a sign your solar system isn’t providing the desired output.
Another clue is the age of your panels – over time, they may not be able to convert as much sunlight into energy.
If you have any concerns about the performance of your solar panels, it’s best to contact a professional for advice.
Trione Energy offers services, including system analysis and upgrades, to ensure optimal output from your solar panel system.
Don’t hesitate to reach out – we’re here to help you make the most out of your investment in solar energy.
Annual Maintenance By A Solar Expert
Some things should be checked annually by a qualified solar expert for your system to continue running smoothly.
Visual Inspection of Modules And Connections
A qualified solar expert will visually inspect all the solar modules, cabling, and inverter to look for any signs of damage or wear and tear. They will also check things like the wiring and junction boxes to make sure everything is secure and in good working condition.
Checking Panel Voltage
The voltage of each PV module in your system will be checked using a voltmeter. This helps ensure that each module is producing the correct amount of power.
Calibration of Monitoring Equipment
Any monitoring equipment that is used in conjunction with your system will be calibrated by the solar expert. This ensures that the equipment is accurate and properly monitoring the system’s performance.
Solar panel maintenance is vital to keep your system running smoothly and efficiently.
It’s actually pretty easy once you get into a regular routine. Some things you can do yourself, like regular inspections and cleaning, but some things should be left to the professionals.
Once a year, you should have a qualified solar expert inspect the system, perform a voltage check, and calibrate the monitoring equipment.
Follow these tips to keep your solar panels running at peak efficiency and powering your home or business for years to come.
All while saving money on your energy bills and helping the environment!
Solar Panel Cleaning: What Is the Proper Way to Clean Them?
Solar panels are becoming increasingly popular as a sustainable and cost-effective source of energy. They are low-maintenance, but keeping them clean is essential to ensure they continue to operate at maximum efficiency. In this article, we’ll cover the importance of cleaning solar panels, how often you should clean them, the best time to do so, safety precautions, cleaning tools and materials, a step-by-step guide to cleaning solar panels, professional cleaning services, and maintaining solar panel efficiency. We’ll also answer five frequently asked questions about solar panel cleaning.
Why Cleaning Solar Panels Is Important
Dust, dirt, pollen, bird droppings, and other debris can accumulate on solar panels, reducing their ability to absorb sunlight and generate electricity. The less sun that is absorbed by a panel, the less electricity it produces. In fact, studies show that dirty solar panels can lose up to 25% of their efficiency, leading to higher energy bills and reduced system lifespan. Another study by Sonsuz, O., Adıgüzel, E., Kabaoğlu, R.O., Ersoy, A. (2020). The Effect Of Pollution On Photovoltaic Panels Under Climate Conditions In Hatay. Erzincan Üniversitesi Fen Bilimleri Enstitüsü Dergisi. found that “it has been calculated that cleaning the panels periodically will significantly increase the electricity production in powerful solar power plants.”
Regular cleaning helps maintain optimal performance to extend the life of your solar panels.
How Often Should You Clean Your Solar Panels?
The frequency of cleaning photovoltaic (PV) solar panels depends on several factors, such as your location, climate, and the angle of your panels. In general, it’s recommended to clean PV solar panels at least once or twice a year. However, if you live in a dusty area or experience heavy snowfall, you may need to clean them more frequently. Regular rain periods can help reduce the frequency of cleaning, as rain will naturally remove the build-up of dust, dirt, bird droppings, and other foreign objects on the glass of the panels. Nonetheless, it is essential to monitor your PV solar panels’ performance and cleanliness, as the efficiency of the panels can be significantly affected by even small amounts of accumulated debris.
Best Time to Clean Solar Panels
The ideal time to clean solar panels is early morning or late afternoon when the sun’s rays are less intense. This prevents the risk of the panels becoming too hot, which can make cleaning more difficult and potentially damage the solar cells such as stains occurring from cleaners that have been left to dry on the panels during the hot sun.
Before you begin cleaning, consider these safety precautions:
- Turn off the solar panel system.
- If your panels are on the roof, use a secure ladder and wear appropriate safety gear.
- Avoid using high-pressure water or abrasive materials, which can damage the panels.
- Do not walk on the solar panels.
Cleaning Tools and Materials
To clean your solar panels, you’ll need the following tools and materials:
Using a soft brush is crucial when cleaning solar panels to avoid causing any damage to their delicate surface. Soft-bristled brushes are gentle enough to remove dirt, dust, and debris without scratching or damaging the glass surface or the solar cells underneath.
When selecting a brush, opt for one with an extendable handle, allowing you to reach all areas of the solar panels with ease, especially if they are installed at a height or on a roof.
Keep the elbow grease to a minimum as well, you don’t want to be too forceful.
Lastly, be careful with the use of a sponge as dirt and debris can easily get trapped in the fibres.
Using a microfiber cloth is another excellent tool for cleaning solar panels without causing damage to their surface. Microfiber cloths are made from soft, synthetic materials that effectively lift and trap dirt and dust particles, making them perfect for cleaning delicate surfaces like solar panels. Additionally, these cloths are highly absorbent, which helps to remove excess water after rinsing the panels, preventing streaks and water spots.
Some imitation Squeegee’s are made from cheap plastic and the blade can scratch your solar panel’s glass surface. so, even a good quality Squeegee tool can suffer from a build-up of dirt or debris, which can be abrasive and therefore scratch the glass surface. Whilst using a Squeegee is perfectly fine – please use them carefully to avoid damaging your panels. Our personal recommendation is to use a Water-fed system or clean Microfiber cloth.
Mild soap or detergent
Using a mild soap or detergent is essential when cleaning solar panels to ensure their surface and solar cells remain undamaged. Harsh chemicals or abrasive cleaners can cause scratches or corrode the protective coating on the panels, reducing their efficiency and lifespan. Mild soaps or detergents, on the other hand, are gentle enough to effectively remove dirt, dust, and debris without causing harm to the panels.
When selecting a mild soap or detergent, opt for a biodegradable, non-toxic formula that is safe for the environment and won’t leave harmful residues on the panels. To create an appropriate cleaning solution, mix a small amount of the soap or detergent with water in a bucket. The solution should be sudsy but not overly concentrated, as too much soap can leave streaks or residue on the panels after rinsing.
Hose with a spray nozzle
Using a hose with a spray nozzle is a convenient and effective method for rinsing and cleaning solar panels. The spray nozzle allows you to control the water pressure and adjust the spray pattern, ensuring a gentle yet thorough rinsing process that removes dirt, soap, and debris without damaging the panel’s surface or solar cells.
When selecting a spray nozzle for your hose, opt for one with adjustable settings that allow you to choose a gentle spray or mist. High-pressure settings can cause damage to the solar panels and should be avoided.
Water-fed cleaning system
If you want to do it the right way, invest in a water fed cleaning system that you can use on the dirtiest parts of your installation once every six (6) months. A water-fed cleaning system uses a low-pressure spray of water, fed through soft brushes to clean solar panels without causing any damage. A water-fed system can include an extension pole that will stretch up to 9m. The soft brushes on the pole will agitate the dust, bird poo and other debris before rinsing it away.
The water-fed pole’s effectiveness is due in part to the fact that only pure water is used to clean the solar panel. To enhance the water quality and remove all minerals and pollutants, the water is passed through a reverse osmosis filter. Once the grime is washed away, there’s no need for detergent. Because the water is clean (the filter ensures there is no trace of any dirty water), it won’t leave behind any water streaks, residue, or mineral deposits. The Windows are streak-free because the water-fed pole only uses clean water, even though they are not sponged or chamois. If you like, you can also use the water-fed system to clean Windows around your house.
Be mindful that water fed systems are not a pressure washer, the water quality is pure meaning it doesn’t need a high pressure to be effective. Most systems will simply dribble water out of the house near the brush which can then be used for cleaning.
Don’t use a high-pressure washer
When completing a solar panel clean, never use a strong high-pressure washer or harsh chemicals. Many people assume a Karcher cleaner from their local Bunnings store is a good option for doing a wash of their panels however this isn’t the case. Your panels may be harmed by high-pressure cleaners or hazardous chemicals, causing you to do more harm than good.
Step-by-Step Guide to Cleaning Solar Panels
Follow these steps to clean your solar panels effectively:
Preparing the cleaning area
Turn off your solar panel system and ensure you have all your cleaning tools and materials ready. If you have trees near your solar panels, check for bird droppings, mud and leaves that may fall onto the panels. Usually, if you have trees or other nature plants near your panels you will find you experience a build-up of dirt and debris more often – reducing the efficiency of the panels.
Wetting the solar panels
Use the hose with a spray nozzle to gently wet the solar panels, starting from the top and working your way down. This helps to loosen dirt and debris.
Applying soap or detergent
Mix a mild soap or detergent with water in a bucket. Dip the soft brush into the soapy solution and gently apply it to the solar panels.
Brushing and scrubbing
Using the soft brush, gently scrub the solar panels in a circular motion to remove dirt, dust, and debris. Be careful not to apply too much pressure, as it may scratch the surface. Use the squeegee to remove excess water and dirt, working from the top to the bottom of the panels.
Rinsing and drying
Rinse the solar panels with clean water from the hose, ensuring all soap and debris are removed. Allow the panels to air dry or use a soft cloth to gently wipe them down.
Professional Solar Panel Cleaning Services
Depending on the size of your solar system, it can cost you between 200 upwards to have a professional company clean them. This can be money well spent when you consider the risk of working metres off the ground.
The good news is that some companies do offer discounts if their customers subscribe to a maintenance plan or have repeat cleans throughout the year. We recommend that you always ask for their credentials and customer reviews before committing to any one company.
Some situations, such as when you have solar panels on an apartment building, will require a professional and shouldn’t be attempted by anyone else due to the risks involved should an accident occur.
An important aspect of choosing a solar panel cleaner is whether or not they offer warranties. If the company provides guarantees on its workmanship, this means they could return and clean your panels again for free should they fail to do their job. But again, make sure the warranty comes with fine print that includes specific details about what’s included in the contract.
If you would like recommendations on solar panel cleaning services please reach out to our friendly staff at Skyline Solar.
Flat solar panels definitely need cleaning
Flat panels require a wash more frequently than tilted solar panels. Why? Because water collects on the flat panels and has nowhere to go if there are no drains. The water will evaporate, leaving dirt behind.
It’s highly likely that a solar panel in a flat position will need a good clean, especially if it is in a place where it cannot be rained on directly. You can also get dirty panels from factory residue (particularly in commercial installations) and high traffic dust. This can result in lost production because the dust impedes the energy output of the cells (and therefore your energy bill).
Maintaining Solar Panel Efficiency
In addition to regular cleaning, monitor your solar panel system’s performance to ensure they’re working efficiently. Keep an eye on your energy bills and the system’s output to identify any potential issues. Regular maintenance, such as inspecting the wiring and mounting hardware, can also help prevent potential problems.
Cleaning your solar panels is an essential part of maintaining their efficiency and prolonging their lifespan. By following the steps outlined in this article and taking necessary safety precautions, you can ensure your solar panels continue to produce clean, sustainable energy for years to come. If you have any questions please don’t hesitate to contact the solar power experts here at Skyline Solar.
Why Solar Panels Need To Be Cleaned Regularly
Solar panels are excellent additions to any business. They help your business save money and become more environmentally friendly. And when you partner with the right solar power company, the installation process for your new solar panels is easy and fast. But what are you supposed to do after you install your solar panels professionally? Many business owners are unaware that they should clean their solar panels, especially if their businesses encounter dust on a daily basis, such as on agricultural farms. Check out the reasons why solar panels need to be cleaned regularly.
Cleaning Boosts Their Efficiency
The first reason to clean your solar panels is to boost their efficiency. When your solar panels get dirty, the dirt and grime partially block the sunlight from entering the panel. At Earthlight Technologies, we have often seen a 10- to 30-percent production recovery after a thorough cleaning. To ensure that you get the most out of your investment for your business, remember to clean your solar panel on a regular basis.
Cleaning Prevents Damage
DIY solar panel cleaning tips often do more harm than good for your business’s panels. To ensure that your panels remain in the best condition without any damage, you should leave the cleaning to the professionals. This advice is especially true for businesses that encounter dirt and debris daily, such as agricultural farms or other places that have ground-mounted solar panels.
They Won’t Become Clean Naturally
Did you know that rainwater on its own won’t effectively clean solar panels? This is a common but false belief that many solar panel owners have. So the last reason why your solar panels need to be cleaned regularly is because rainwater alone is not enough. Solar panels are like car windshields. Even though it rains, you still need to clean your windshield. This is the case for your business’s solar panels as well. So don’t rely on mother nature to clean your solar panels for you. While rain may help, you’ll need to put some in effort yourself.
Here at Earthlight Technologies, we now offer OM services for your business, such as 24/7 system production monitoring, annual maintenance visits, and repairs. These services help commercial and industrial solar system owners keep their solar panels in the best possible condition and receive the highest ROI. To learn more about our OM or installation services, take a look at our demonstration video and reach out to us today.
Sunrun vs SunPower: Which One Is Better?
Sunrun vs SunPower, which solar panel system is better?
As the world moves towards clean energy, more and more people in the US are installing solar panels on their homes.
With the wide range of solar panel sellers available in the market, it can be challenging to determine which provider is the best fit for your needs.
Two popular companies that homeowners often consider are SunPower and Sunrun. Both are leading providers of residential solar panels and energy storage systems.
In this article, we compare SunPower and Sunrun to help homeowners make an informed decision when choosing a solar panel provider. Whether you’re looking for personalized service, a custom solar panel design, or a reliable energy storage system, we hope this piece helps you.
Before we take a deep dive into the nuances of either company’s offerings, let’s look at what they do.
At a Glance: SunPower
Specializing in solar solutions for residential and commercial properties, SunPower’s Equinox® system offers some of the most efficient classes of solar panels available today.
The company’s unique selling proposition is simplifying solar panel (and system) selection and management for all customers. Its SunPower® Design Studio is another innovative tool that enables users to see what their home would look like with solar panels installed.
Further, SunPower’s mySunPower mobile app allows users to monitor their home’s solar energy production, storage, and electricity use from the convenience of their mobile device.
SunPower’s industry-leading 25-year complete system warranty provides peace of mind for customers, covering not only the panels but also labor and parts.
At a Glance: Sunrun
Specializing in residential solar and energy storage solutions, Sunrun’s primary goal is to make the transition to solar as easy and stress-free as possible for homeowners.
Sunrun’s Solar Advisors are experts in the field and provide one-on-one consultations to guide you through your solar adoption journey. They provide daily system monitoring, free maintenance, repairs, and comprehensive insurance throughout the life of your solar system.
Sunrun’s proprietary software significantly influences its custom solar design services. It generates a detailed analysis of your home’s energy usage and production potential, so the company can design a system that maximizes your energy savings.
Homeowners get bumper-to-bumper warranty that covers their solar systems from top to bottom, including all parts and labor, and free equipment replacement and system repairs. It also includes a guarantee that roof penetrations are watertight for ten years.
This guarantee provides much-needed peace of mind and assurance that the solar system will operate at peak performance.
Sunrun vs SunPower: Solar Power
Let’s look at a few solar panel elements where Sunrun vs Sunpower can be compared.
Solar Panel Manufacturer and Brand
Sunrun sources their solar panels from third-party suppliers. In contrast, SunPower has partnered with Maxeon Solar Technologies—a reputable manufacturer that produces high-quality solar panels with a proven track record of durability and efficiency.
SunPower offers its own Maxeon Solar line, with A Series, X Series, E Series, and P Series.
Installation Costs and Financing
While Sunrun’s average installation cost is around 3.93 per watt, the figure stands at 4.60 for SunPower. It’s worth noting that the exact installation costs vary depending on various factors, such as roof size, location, and additional services required. For some more perspective, NRG Clean Power typically completes similar projects for right around 3.00/watt. Get a price here.
When it comes to financing options, Sunrun offers lease, loan, and PACE programs, while SunPower offers only loan or mortgage options.
PACE (Property Assessed Clean Energy) is a financing program that helps homeowners and commercial property owners pay for energy-efficient upgrades, such as solar panels, through a property tax assessment. Offered by many local and state governments, the PACE program lends funds for these upgrades, which are then repaid over time through an assessment of their property tax bill.
Power and Output
SunPower’s solar panels have a higher efficiency rate that ranges from 19.8% to 22.8%, while Sunrun’s panels have a rating of 15% to 22%.
SunPower’s panels also have a higher output rating, ranging from 330W to 545W, while Sunrun’s panels have an output rating of 250W to 400W.
This means SunPower’s panels are more efficient at converting sunlight into electricity and producing more energy.
Installation and Warranty
SunPower has a 25-year warranty compared to Sunrun’s ten years. While both companies leverage contracted installations, SunPower also has in-house installation capabilities.
In summary, while Sunrun offers lower installation costs and more financing options, SunPower provides higher-quality panels with better efficiency and output ratings, as well as a more extended warranty.
Sunrun vs SunPower: Energy Storage
To truly maximize the benefits of solar power, you can install an energy or battery storage system. Energy generated during the day can be stored in a battery for a reliable and continuous power source.
Both Sunrun and SunPower offer complete solar energy storage and battery systems. Let’s take a look into each in detail.
Effortless Energy Independence with Sunrun
Backed by the prowess of the Tesla Powerwall and LG Chem, Sunrun offers its Brightbox™ solar storage service. The difference between Tesla Powerwall and LG Chem is that the former is for whole-home backup, while the latter is designed for partial coverage.
The Powerwall is a sleek and compact battery that can store up to 13.5 kWh of energy, which is enough to power a standard home for several hours during an outage. Sunrun offers financing options for their Brightbox™ service, so homeowners can get whole home backup with Tesla Powerwall for as little as 0 down.
The company’s monthly and full amount lease of Tesla Powerwall comes with 24/7 systems performance monitoring and maintenance. Brightbox™ also enables homeowners to use stored energy during peak demand times instead of relying on more expensive grid electricity.
For instance, on hot summer afternoons, when air conditioning use is at its peak, utility companies may charge higher rates for electricity. With Tesla Powerwall, Brightbox™ can instead revert to energy generated by solar panels during high-demand periods to power your home. By avoiding the jacked-up electricity prices, homeowners can save on their utility bills.
Without having to pay high upfront costs, homeowners can take control of their home energy, reduce reliance on traditional power sources, and ensure access to electricity even during power outages.