Like cleaning the air conditioning units in the house, your solar panels should also receive regular washing for optimal performance. Conversely, there are things that you must know when washing the modules especially if it is located on top of a two-story roof. From cleaning the modules early in the morning or in the evening to using the appropriate materials and cleaning methods, here are some effective tips to properly clean your panels and solar system in the Philippines.
Take Down the Panels Before Cleaning
Never clean the solar panels above the roof for several safety reasons. Instead, clean the solar panels from the ground. If cleaning the solar panels from the ground is not possible, never attempt accessing your rooftop unless you have the appropriate safety equipment and accessories as well as proper training. Without those, you are putting yourself at risk of falling from the roof or injuring yourself.
Choose the Best Time of the Day
The suggested time of the day to clean solar panels is either early in the morning before the sun goes up or in the evening when the sun is down. It will be useless to clean the panels if the sun is beating down on it because the water will just evaporate and the dirt on the surface will smear. Between cleaning early in the morning and in the evening, the former presents a better option. The dew that has settled on the panels overnight will most likely have softened grime and it will be easier to wash it off and wipe with a soft sponge. With this, you use less resources for cleaning like water and energy.
Use Appropriate Materials and Cleaning Methods
If you decide to clean in the evening wherein the dirt has already dried up, make sure to brush off the loose debris before running water onto the surface and modules. Otherwise, cleaning in the morning should be easier as the grime is softer which makes it faster to remove by running water. Never use any metal objects or highly abrasive products for removing the sticky and cakey grime as this could cause scratches on the glass which greatly affect its performance. Abrasive products include detergents which could possibly damage the glass of the panel. For oily and stubborn stains, isopropyl alcohol that works as a spot-cleaning substance provides appropriate ingredients in tackling it.
Avoid Using High Pressured Water and High Mineral Content
While some manufacturers of solar panels assure you that the junction box and the plugs are 100% tightly sealed, it is better to be safe by using normal running water and not highly pressured water. Highly pressured water can force the water to penetrate the boxes and plugs which causes performance malfunction and could also be very dangerous.
When it comes to the water used, make sure you use distilled or de-ionized water without high mineral content. Water that is rich in minerals may leave deposits of small particles over the time of cleaning. If you do not have access to de-ionized water, you must at least use softening hose attachments so that minerals are filtered.
Read the Panel Manufacturer Instructions
Solar panel manufacturers should be able to instruct you on how to clean your panels properly through the manuals that come with the packaging. Installation manuals are generally available online yet they might not include the specifics written on the original manual from the manufacturer. With that, it is best to consult the manual or give the manufacturer a call to confirm the cleaning process or solar panels.
Never Walk Over the Modules
Solar panels are created to withstand the weight of a certain amount of distributed snow and loads of wind. If your concentrated weight is placed on the portion or area of a solar panel, micro-cracking may start to appear. These cracks may reduce the performance of the panels over the time of use. Apart from the damages that may occur like scratches and cracking, you might slip and fall due to the combination of water and runny soap. With that, we go back to the first tip for cleaning solar panels which is to bring the modules for safety and protection of the surface.
On a final note, given the good quality of materials that manufacturers of panels and solar systems in the Philippines use, clean water and mild scrubbing with coarse cloth-covered sponges, as well as a soft brush, should effectively remove the most stubborn grime and dried-up dirt. Another tip is to leave the module dry for at least 30 minutes and over an hour before turning back to the DC disconnect switch. Always put your safety first and the protection of the modules second. If you think you are not fully equipped and knowledgeable of cleaning the panels, it is best to hire a professional to do it.