Installing solar PV system to meet your green energy goals is your first step towards a bright future, but if you don’t take care of your PV panels regularly, the energy output of your PV system will decrease and you will only be half benefited for all the investment you have done.
So regularly cleaning the PV panels to remove dust particles, bird droppings, leaves or other particles is required to keep your system up and running to its full potential.
I have listed some procedures and general guidelines to keep in mind while you clean your PV panels, whether it is a small scale roof top solar PV system or utility scale solar parks.
Guidelines & Precautions for cleaning of PV modules
- It is common for dust particles to accumulate on the surface of the odule. This can reduce the optimal output performance of the solar modules. normally, the accumulated dust can be washed with water, but in some instances, some maintenance is recommended to clean the surface of the glass with water and soft cloth or sponge to remove layers of dust and dirt. A mild nonabrasive detergent may be applied to remove persistent dirt.
- PV module cleaning should be done only by properly trained personnel who understand the risk of applying water to electrical equipment.
- It is advisable to perform periodic inspection of the modules for damage to glass, back sheet, frame, junctions box, or external electrical /loose connections and corrosion by authorized professional.
- No aggressive and abrasive cleansers or chemicals should ever be used on the coated front glass. No alkali based chemicals should be used, including ammonia based solutions.
- Always wear rubber gloves for electrical insulation while maintaining , washing or cleaning modules. appropriate electrically insulating personal protective equipment must be worn during any cleaning or any inspection operations.
- You should sparay the PV modules with low pressure water. The temperature of the water should not be very hot or cold than the PV module temperature. So if you are planning to clean the modules, try to do the cleaning process in the afternoon or evening or early morning when the modules are not too hot. Do not apply water that is more than 20 degree warmer or colder than module surface temperature as during generation time the temperature of the module is higher and washing may cause thermal stress in the modules.
- Always make sure the cleaning is not done during the generation time, the recommended time to clean modules is dusk to dawn when production is not affected and risk of electrical shock hazard is minimized.
- For cleaning always use fresh water with low TDS value. If need arises, use a mild non-abrasive detergent. The detergent should be caustic too. Check that the pH value of the detergent mixed fresh water is in between 6.5 to 8.5 at 25 degree Celsius.
- Clean the module with a soft sponge or soft rubber wiper. Do not use abrasive cleanerrs or de-greasers on the module. Do not scrub the modules with abrasive brushes. Such brush fibers may scratch the glass, reducing the poweer output of the panel.
- In case if soft water is not available , modules can be dry cleaned with the help of a soft cloth or with a soft sponge to remove dirt, dust. One can also use wet cloth, sponge to clean dirt which is not easily removed by dry cleaning.
- Never spray water at the junction boxes or any other area on the back side of the module.
- If excessive soiling is present, non-conductive soft brush, sponge or other mild agitating method may be sued before using water. Ensure that the brushes do not damage the glass of the panels.
- Do not clean the glass surface with any chemicals.
- Do not let water stay on the glass surfaces of the PV modules for a long time. This creates a risk of permanent damage to the glass, such as white effloroscence, otherwise known as “glass disease”, which may reduce the power output.
- Do not install the PV modules horizontally as this leads to accumulation of dirt and dust and also water after cleaning.
Proper maintenance of your solar PV system can certainly increase its life and it regularly prroduce peak power output, maximizing your return on investment.