Commercial solar panels are a significant investment for any business, providing clean and renewable energy while reducing utility bills. However, for these systems to operate at optimal efficiency, it is crucial to ensure regular maintenance, including cleaning. Failure to clean solar panels can result in decreased performance and even shorten their lifespan.
Many factors can cause debris, dirt, and grime to accumulate on your solar panels, such as pollen from nearby trees, dust from building sites or nearby roads, and bird droppings. These obstructions can block sunlight from reaching the solar cells, reducing the panels’ efficiency and, consequently, their energy output. Regular cleaning ensures that your commercial solar panels continue to generate the maximum amount of power for your business.
In this article, we will discuss some reasons why your commercial solar panels need cleaning. By understanding the importance of regular maintenance and how it contributes to the longevity and efficiency, you can take the appropriate steps to keep your investment in top shape, ensuring the best possible return on your business’ green energy goals.
Reasons for Cleaning Commercial Solar Panels
Maintaining the energy efficiency of commercial solar panels is crucial, and regular cleaning is one of the primary ways to achieve this. Dust, dirt, and debris can accumulate on the surface of solar panels, reducing their ability to collect sunlight and convert it into electricity. In fact, a dirty environment can cause a 30% reduction in solar energy output in just one month, depending on the location. Such a decline can significantly impact your energy bill and negate the benefits of having solar panels installed.
To optimise energy efficiency, it’s important to clean solar panels regularly. However, timing is also crucial to prevent potential damage to the panels. Cleaning is recommended during the early morning or late afternoon when the surface is cooler, to minimise the risk of thermal shock. When the surface is warmer, we use temperature-treated water to prevent thermal shock and ensure that the panels are cleaned effectively without damage.
Another essential reason for cleaning solar panels is to prolong their lifespan. Commercial solar panels represent a significant investment, so it’s vital to ensure that you get the maximum return. Keeping solar panels clean helps in achieving this by preventing any corrosive materials from causing long-term damage to the panel components.
Furthermore, it is a common misconception that solar panels are self-cleaning. In reality, all solar panels have an anti-reflective coating (ARC) applied to the glass during production, which means that they have a slightly rough surface. This can allow dirt and debris to accumulate over time, potentially reducing the panel’s performance and shortening its life. Regular cleaning can prevent this build-up and ensure that your panels work at their optimum capacity for a longer period.
Impacts of Dust and Debris
Dust and debris accumulation on commercial solar panels can significantly reduce their efficiency and overall power output. The presence of dust particles on the panel surface can lead to a decrease in solar irradiance reaching the photovoltaic cells, thus lowering the energy generated. A study performed between 2015 and 2020 found that dust is an important ecological factor that impacts the performance of solar panels, especially in hot and dusty areas.
Increased humidity can also exacerbate the effects of dust settlement on solar panels, as it binds dust particles to the surface, making them harder to be carried away by wind. To maintain optimal energy production levels, you need to regularly clean commercial solar panels to minimise the impact of dust and debris on their performance.
Apart from performance decline, accumulated dust and debris on solar panels can increase the risk of corrosion and damage to the panel components. Dust particles can sometimes contain abrasive materials, which can slowly wear away the protective coatings on the solar panel surface.
Furthermore, humidity, pollution, and airborne pollutants may combine with dust and debris to form corrosive agents that can accelerate the degradation of solar panel materials.
The combination of corrosion risks and performance decline makes it essential to regularly clean commercial solar panels to ensure their longevity and efficient operation. Proper cleaning procedures will not only maintain the energy output levels of solar panels but will also help preserve their structural integrity, ensuring a better return on investment for business owners.
Effects of Weather Conditions
Commercial solar panels need regular cleaning to maintain their efficiency. Weather conditions play a vital role in determining how frequently the panels should be cleaned. In this section, we will discuss the impact of rain and snow accumulation on solar panel performance.
Impact of Rain
Contrary to popular belief, rain can actually have a positive effect on solar panels by helping to keep them clean. As water droplets run over the surface, they wash away built-up dust and debris, ensuring that light can pass through the panel without obstruction. However, this cleaning effect may not be enough to counteract the inevitable build-up of grime, tree sap, and bird droppings. In areas with high levels of pollution or dirt, for example near busy roads, more frequent professional cleaning may be required.
Snow Accumulation Problems
Solar panels positioned at a steep angle are more likely to shed snow naturally, but those installed on flat roofs or at shallow angles may experience a build-up during the winter months. Snow accumulation on a solar panel not only blocks sunlight, reducing the system’s energy output but also adds extra weight to the structure, potentially causing damage over time.
Furthermore, the insulating effect of snow can result in lower surface temperatures, which can cause a phenomenon known as “cold lock,” where the panels lose efficiency due to the crystalline silicon cells being unable to produce the necessary electric current. To avoid these issues, it is important to have a snow removal plan in place and to clear snow from solar panels promptly after significant snowfall events.
Although the chances of snow build up is rare in places such as the United Kingdow, it’s still a good idea to have a plan in place.
One of the primary safety concerns when it comes to commercial solar panel cleaning is the potential fire risk. Over time, dirt, dust, and debris can accumulate on the surface of solar panels, hindering their performance and potentially creating a fire hazard.
To mitigate this risk, it’s essential to implement regular cleaning schedules for commercial solar panels. This will not only help prevent the buildup of combustible materials but also ensure that the panels are working efficiently and providing optimal energy output.
Apart from the fire risk, another safety concern when it comes to commercial solar panel cleaning is the potential for physical damage to the panels themselves. Improper cleaning techniques, such as using abrasive materials or pressure washers, can cause damage to the solar cells, leading to reduced efficiency and performance.
To avoid physical damage, it’s crucial to use gentle cleaning methods, such as soft sponges, water, and diluted white vinegar. Employing a professional solar panel cleaning service can also ensure that the panels are handled with care and cleaned correctly, preventing any unintentional damage.
Importance of Regular Maintenance
Maintaining commercial solar panels on a regular basis is essential to optimise their efficiency and prolong their lifespan. Dirty and unmaintained solar panels can result in a significant loss of efficiency, with reductions of up to 60%-70% in energy output for the system. This can lead to a significant reduction in the energy bill savings that solar panels are designed to provide.
In addition to dust and dirt, the build-up of lichen on the panels can also affect their performance and efficiency. Therefore, keeping solar panels clean and in good working condition is crucial to maximise their energy output and maintain their efficiency over time.
Secondly, regular solar panel maintenance helps identify and address potential issues early on, preventing complications and potentially costly repairs in the long run. Inspecting the panels, wiring, and mounting systems will ensure that they are all functioning correctly and are not at risk of malfunction.
Maintaining solar panels also contributes to their longevity. Research has shown that routine cleaning can improve their overall performance by up to 21% in residential arrays and up to 60% in commercial installations. This will help businesses to save money and avoid interruptions in their energy supply.
Professional vs DIY Cleaning
Quality of Work
When considering whether to go for a professional cleaning service or to clean your commercial solar panels by yourself, an important factor to keep in mind is the quality of work. Professional solar panel cleaners are well-versed in the proper techniques and have access to specialised equipment to ensure a thorough cleaning.
They understand how to clean the panels without causing damage or compromising the panels’ efficiency. Solar panel cleaning might seem like an easy task, but without the right knowledge, DIY cleaning could end up doing more harm than good.
On the other hand, if you opt to do the cleaning yourself, you might not have access to the right tools or know the best practices to achieve an optimal result. DIY cleaning methods may not be as effective as professional services in removing stubborn dirt and grime, which could potentially decrease your solar panels’ long-term performance and efficiency.
Cleaning commercial solar panels often requires working at heights, which makes safety a top priority. Professional solar panel cleaning companies are equipped with the necessary safety gear and follow strict safety protocols to ensure that the job is carried out without accidents or injuries. They may use harnesses, scaffolding, or elevated platforms to access the solar panels securely.
In addition to the risk of falls, there is also an electrical shock risk associated with solar panel cleaning. Dodgy connections and voltage passing through the panels can create an electric shock hazard. Professional solar panel cleaning companies reduce this risk by wearing non-conductive footwear and using insulating pole sleeves.
Attempting to clean your solar panels without the proper safety equipment and training can put yourself or your employees at risk. The risks involved in commercial solar panel cleaning should not be underestimated, and relying on professionals could ultimately save you time, money, and prevent accidents.
Maintaining the cleanliness of commercial solar panels is essential to ensure optimal performance and a longer lifespan of the system. Dirty environments can slow the output of solar energy by as much as 70% in a matter of a month. In turn, this affects the return on investment and overall energy efficiency.
Regular solar panel cleaning significantly increases the efficiency of the panels by up to 70%, reducing energy bills and benefiting the environment. Monitoring for any unexpected decrease in output can help identify the need for cleaning or addressing underlying issues.
In conclusion, prioritising commercial solar panel cleaning contributes to a more efficient, cost-effective, and environmentally friendly energy system. Taking note of these reasons and ensuring proper maintenance schedules are in place will yield substantial long-term benefits for businesses and the planet alike.