( Solar Thermal Magazine)
The solar age is upon us and around the world companies, governments and homeowners are learning about the benefits of solar photo-voltaic panels for energy security, zero emissions and lowering energy bills. However with any technology you need to be aware of the basic maintenance that is required and the same is true for solar pv.
Lets talk a minute about keeping the solar panels clean. Dirt and grim can build up on the panels over time and actually reduce the output of them by as much as 35%! This is significant and really you probably did not size your projects to allow for such losses as this add capital cost and demands more area for more panels. Keeping the panels clean is very important so at least twice a year you need to scrub them down so they stay at peak power.
The same is true for snow on your solar panels. Once the skies have cleared you will need to brush off your panels but be careful not to slide off the roof if it is a roof mounted system.
Overheated solar panels.
Believe it or not your sun loving solar panels can get too hot! Anything over 60 degrees C, results in an efficiency loss of between 6 and 22%. As a homeowner there is not much you can do about this since you are unlikely to want to hose off your panels every hour in the summer midday heat but make sure you take this into account when you are calculating how much power to expect from the system.
Automated cleaner and coolers.
For larger commercial solar power installations there are several companies making automated devices that clean them for you and some actually can cool them as well. Here is a video of one such company that we found, Integra Global that makes a very interesting automated device.
There are several other companies making solar clean automation and we will feature them in later posts.
Gordon's expertise in the area of industrial energy efficiency and alternative energy. He is an experienced electrical engineer with a Masters degree in Alternative Energy technology. He is the co-founder of several renewable energy media sites including Solar Thermal Magazine.