Solar panel maintenance advice
When you purchase your solar panels you may have been told they are self-cleaning in rain. Well to a certain extent, that's true but rain in some areas may be 3-4 months away.
Having lived with solar for many years and having both a thermal solar and PV solar system in place here are some handy hints that may help you get more solar gain.
- If you cool your panels down during a hot spell, you will generate more power on PV systems. Silicone works better when cold than hot.
- Using tap water from a hose will leave a residue on the panels, almost limescale like in appearance and it will take some cleaning to clear it.
- Only ever use fresh rain water that has been harvested during downpours. Soft, clean water leaves no residue even when poured over panels on the hottest of days.
- Fitting an automatic cooling device such as in the video to the right will dramatically increase your output by as much as 5% during peak periods on hot days.
- Be careful using a pressure washer as forcing water under the panel casing may have an adverse effect long term.
- Never use a detergent unless you are 100% certain your warranty will not be affected.
Advice for rural and coastal solar panel users
If you live in a rural or coastal area, your solar panels may suffer from excess dust or salt in the air. A monthly hose down, by fitting a hose to a water butt pump will reap benefits. A large water butt such as the one in the video above will give you ample fresh water to keep your panels clean all year.
If your solar panels are hard to reach, contact a window cleaner who uses a pole system. They are experienced and can get to solar panels placed high up on houses. Bungalow systems can be cleaned from ground level with the right tools.
Now that you have cleaned your panels, you might want to save more on your bills. Most modern systems allow you to monitor in real time exactly how much energy you are generating, exporting and using in the home. It makes sense to use as much as you can of your own energy.
How to make the most of your solar panels
If you have a west facing system, then obviously the heavy energy use appliances should be used in the afternoons. And for East facing systems, mid morning will be the best time for washing machines etc. South facing solar panel systems, whilst generating a few percent more energy over a year means that you will need to make good any energy use during the peak times.
By staging your use, ie, washing machine first, then the dishwasher, then the vacuum cleaner, you will get more out of your system than if you were to put all appliances on at the same time as may be using more energy than you are generating.
Simple monitoring and sensible usage will decrease the 'pull' from the National Grid and reduce your bills more than you ever expected!
After all, through the Clean Energy Cashback Scheme (FiTs) you are being rewarded for generating energy, it makes sense to reward yourself by reducing your outgoings by using your solar when the sun is at it's brightest and highest.
At The Solar Shed, we offer a full panel cleaning service. We will check your system efficiencies, monitor shade and provide advice on how to make more from your system. Please contact us for costs and appointments.