You have a small PV array on your roof? Or a large commercial solar farm? Either way, your PV system needs to be cleaned once in a while. Solar panels need to be cleaned to preserve their value and ensure high energy yields and inverters need to be cleaned from the outside as well as the inside to preserve optimal function.
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Why Solar Modules Get Dirty
How solar modules get dirty highly depends on the environment they are in, and the way they are installed. For example, the self-cleansing effect no longer works if the modules are installed with a slight tilt, leading to a large accumulation of dirt over time. But also strong pollution, severe weather changes and other factors contribute to your modules getting dirty. If you don’t clean this up regularly, over time this will lead to a loss in performance.
The Most Common Causes of Dirtiness:
- Moss and pollen deposits
- Bird droppings
Such sediments are often underestimated, but can lead to a 10 to 20% performance loss. Although many solar panels have a protective layer, there is no way around regular cleanings if you wish to maintain full performance in your solar cells.
Not just wind and weather conditions leave their marks on your solar cells. There are many other elements that can dirty your panels. These range from bird droppings, via pollen, to rust particles and fine dust, depending on the location of your PV system. Especially in older panels, even moss can start to grow, leaving lasting damage. The biggest problem though, are the dirt, dust and rust particles in the air. Even though rain removes a lot of these particles, it usually brings new dirt with it.
Industrial areas have an ever higher need for regular cleanings, as a combination of CO², SO² and nitrogen oxides together with water results in acid rain. This acid rain contaminates and in the long run damages the PV system.
To conclude: if you don’t clean your solar panels regularly it will come to shading, decreasing the amount of absorbed sunlight and thus overall performance. It is important to note you shouldn't clean your solar panels with tap water, as this contains a lot of calcium and other minerals, leaving sediments on your panels all over again.
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