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Cleaning Solar Panels Properly Makes them More Efficient

By Brad Staines

Harness as much of the sun as possible by keeping your solar panels clean Harness as much of the sun as possible by keeping your solar panels clean

According to the Energy Institute, solar panels are installed on thousands of British homes. The south of England is the best place in the UK for solar technology deployment.

Solar is not the investment it once was; feed-in tariffs have been reduced substantially to just 6 per cent, and that means less payback for homeowners. It’s critical that solar panels work efficiently to maximise the amount of energy that can be harvested.

How Dirt Hinders Solar Performance

Solar panels efficiently convert daylight to electricity. The photovoltaic cells inside the panel shear electrons away from atoms. The cell itself creates electric field that channels those electrons down wires, forming an electrical current we can use to power our homes.

Homeowners that generate electricity using low-carbon technology, such as solar panels, are paid for that power, even if they use it to power their home. This is called the Generation Tariff. On top of this, homeowners are paid for surplus electricity that they contribute back to the power grid. This is called the Export tariff. The home will also see a reduction in energy bills.

As tariff allowances fall, it makes sense for the solar panels to work as efficiently as possible so that homeowners benefit from maximum financial gains through energy efficiency. Solar panels don’t need full sun to function, but it makes sense to ensure they can capture as much natural light as possible. In 2009, Google carried out a study into solar panel performance, and it found that the energy output from its flat panels doubled after they had been cleaned.

Cleaning Delicate Panels

For window cleaning companies, cleaning solar panels can be tricky. For one thing, solar panels are delicate, so they shouldn’t be walked on, and detergent can’t be used. Another issue is height; solar panels are above the roofline, making them tricky to access and difficult to reach. Any damage to a solar panel will almost certainly make it less efficient and could render it permanently unusable.

At Aquamark, we’ve cleaned solar panels for homeowners and businesses across the south of England. We use a combination of methods, including cherry pickers, pure water fed poles, and even abseil cleaners.

When we clean the panels, we clean the surface and the frame around the edge. This is critical; dirt can gather in the corners, particularly along the bottom of the panel, and cause a significant decrease in power.

How Frequently Should Panels Be Cleaned?

In terms of frequency, we clean steep panels less than shallow angled ones, because dirt gathers less on steep surfaces. If you’ve had any kind of dust storm, or you live in a polluted urban area, we’ll recommend more frequent cleaning than we would for someone whose panels pick up less debris and pollen.

The best way to proceed is to get a quote for window cleaning and solar panel cleaning in one. We’ll assess the unique characteristics of your property so we can come up with a cleaning plan for everything. That way, you’ll know that your whole building will benefit from being clean and efficient all year round.

Tags: Solar Panel Cleaning

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