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We wash our cars, the windows or the floor to keep them clean and preserve them over time. What about the solar modules? They also need to be cleaned regularly. But how do you clean a solar plant and what care should you take? Find out more in this blog article.
Solar modules need to be washed, especially in spring. Unfortunately, due to ignorance, many solar plant owners deal with the dirt on their solar modules in a rather random way: with water, a mop and a brush. But a solar module is not a window!
The modules are covered by a separate glass. It is often covered with an invisible and extremely thin anti-reflective coating. By cleaning or brushing the dust, you risk ruining the glass and the anti-reflective coating of the solar module and even voiding the manufacturer’s warranty.
Tap water is unsuitable for washing the modules because it leaves lime stains on the glass. This can cause solar production to fail. For this reason, a professional always uses demineralized water and a special brush.
Check the type and amount of dirt that accumulates on your solar modules
In places with a high concentration of dust, such as near industrial areas or roads with heavy traffic, the washing of solar modules should be done more frequently. Dust and dirt accumulate mainly along the frame of the modules – on roofs with a slope at the lower end.
Regular washing protects against hot spots
The dirt dries and heats up with solar radiation on the dark surface of the module. In this way, the dirt can even cause unwanted hot spots: the shadow of the stain on the solar module affects the covered solar cells that stop producing electricity, increasing their internal resistance. However, as the other cells are connected in series and these continue to produce solar energy, their current is forced through the shaded cell. Due to the high internal resistance and the current flowing through it, a loss of energy occurs which results in the photovoltaic module overheating. In the worst case scenario, the hot spot effect can ignite the solar module, a particularly dangerous situation if there is flammable material nearby, such as branching and trees.
Ammonia is a threat to the good conservation of your solar module
Many solar systems are installed in farm buildings. But especially farm animals release a lot of ammonia, this combines with the dust from the air fixing itself on the solar modules in the form of a thick, solid film. This attracts a lot of dust. Only washing with water will have a reduced effect on the removal of dirt.
Ammonia from animal stables in the gaseous state is very aggressive and can lead to corrosion of the solar modules.
Make a plan of washing the solar modules with a specialist
Depending on the nature and degree of dirt, you should draw up a regular cleaning plan. Leave the cleaning of your solar modules to a specialized technician. He ensures that your modules are washed regularly with the appropriate equipment – keeping the warranty valid. Professional washing is a basic and essential measure to ensure the best installation performance over the years.
SOLVasto offers solar module washing services. Contact us for more information and a quote.
Photovoltaic system maintenance: protect yourself from production outages and guarantee its durability
Regular maintenance of your photovoltaic system ensures full performance and durability of your installation in the long term.
In general, photovoltaic installations are systems with little need for maintenance, however, it is essential to carry out a regular inspection to ensure maximum production and performance of the installation over the years. This periodic inspection makes it easy to detect any failure, material fatigue, as well as other situations that may lower its performance and can be easily corrected. In a practical way, maintenance contracts are important to ensure that proper intervals are respected: maximising efficiency and consequently energy production; guaranteeing the expected economic benefit.
Benefits of regular maintenance:
- Continuous technical inspection
- Ensuring high incomes
- Guarantee of equipment durability for long periods
- Correct small defects before they get worse
- Compliance with the guarantee conditions
- Guaranteeing the security conditions of buildings and their users
- Compliance with the conditions required by a third party (investor)
- Compliance with the conditions required by an insurance entity
When should the maintenance of the photovoltaic system start?
Preferably, you establish a maintenance contract at the time of commissioning of the installation. The continuous monitoring, from the first day of production on, ensures that any failures are easily detected, and that you get the maximum yield from the installation.
An inspection should always be made when it is suspected that the photovoltaic system is not producing the energy estimated in the project, or that something is not working properly and may affect the electricity production.
The monitoring of the installation also allows technical inspections to be carried out before the end of the warranty periods, ensuring that they can be properly triggered before their expiration, avoiding repair costs.
A maintenance contract signed at an early stage allows you to minimize failures and yield losses of your solar photovoltaic installation.
If you do not have a maintenance contract yet, these are indicators for the need of maintenance of the photovoltaic system:
- The yield of the system is below the average values of the previous year, in addition to what is allowed by the normal degradation of the modules; or in the case of new installations, the production values are below the reference values / project.
- Part of the installation is covered by coarse dirt such as leaves, moss or bird droppings, which result in large losses of performance and/or the possibility of early deterioration of the modules (hot spots).
- Defects in components or solar panels, which may lead to system failures.
Maintenance procedures for photovoltaic systems
The maintenance procedures for photovoltaic systems are defined by a standard (IEC 62446-1) and should contain the following tasks:
- Visual inspection of the photovoltaic system
- Analysis of defects, deficiencies and failures in the system, including individual components, such as cracks in the cells, state of the insulation silicone of the module frames or interruptions in contacts
- Thermographic examination for verification of hot spots
- Power measurement of individual solar modules or their strings
- Comparison of performance with reference installations
- Maintenance documentation with report and suggestions for correction and/or improvement
- You should inform yourself in advance about all the services included in the maintenance contract
All services included and their costs should be agreed, from the beginning of the installation, through a contract: since they have a direct impact on the profitability of the investment.
In addition to the costs of preventive maintenance, you may contract the extension of the inverter warranty up to 15 years – for the equipment with the highest failure rate, typically between the 10th and 15th year of life of the system -, set prices for corrective maintenance and/or add the emergency service. Thus, if serious defects occur, the costs will remain under control.
The importance of cleaning the solar modules
Cleaning the photovoltaic panels is one of the most important maintenance tasks, since dirt leads to a drop in system performance. Therefore, regular cleaning is recommended to remove debris accumulated in solar modules. Special attention should be paid to the space between the glass and the frame, where the dirt accumulating can lead to moss that will cause infiltrations of moisture, which causes the early detimation of the photovoltaic module.
The regularity of cleaning depends on exposure to dirt. Therefore, in places with a high concentration of dust, such as near industrial areas, or roads with heavy traffic, this operation should be carried out more frequently.
It is not advisable for the owner to clean his own photovoltaic system. This requires special knowledge and equipment, ensuring safety – since the equipment is normally installed on the roof – in addition to not causing risks to the modules and/or damaging any system component.
The following points should be considered when cleaning:
- Avoid applying water with too high a pressure
- Use of mild detergents
- Use water with low lime content (demineralized)
- Cleaning with soft brush or sponge
Rain promotes some cleaning, especially of light dirt and dust, but persistent stains, such as those caused by bird droppings, are not properly removed.
SOLVasto offers maintenance services for your photovoltaic system. Contact us for more information.