Just as a grimey window does not transmit as much light as one that’s sparkling clean, dirty solar panels will not produce as much energy as panels that are clean. But cleaning solar panels isn’t as easy as washing windows. Nor is it easy to figure out when they need to be cleaned.
Both homeowners and commercial solar installations have to deal with issues related to keeping solar panels clean. For homeowners, the best advice in rainy areas is to have the panels professionally washed every three to five years; more often for larger systems, and in areas that are very dry and dusty. Commercial customers consider the cost-benefit tradeoffs more carefully. It may cost $5,000 per year to clean a large system, but that 5 percent increase in energy output may be worth $10,000 — hence regular cleaning pencils out.
With over 25 GW of installed solar capacity in the U.S., there is a need for professional solar panel cleaning services. But not a lot of Windex; for safety and environmental reasons, panels are usually cleaned with deionized water. And NEVER just hose off your panels; minerals in the water will create a white film on the glass. If you can work safety on a ladder and on your roof, you can wash the panels yourself with a gentle soap solution.
Please Listen Up to this week’s Energy Show on Renewable Energy World as we welcome Jay Welsh, CEO of Solar Maids, the leading professional panel cleaning service. Jay shares his tips on cleaning residential systems, as well as the wider range of operations and maintenance services that Solar Maids provides.
About The Energy Show
As energy costs consume more and more of our hard-earned dollars, we as consumers really start to pay attention. But we don’t have to resign ourselves to $5/gallon gas prices, $200/month electric bills and $500 heating bills. There are literally hundreds of products, tricks and techniques that we can use to dramatically reduce these costs — very affordably.
The Energy Show on Renewable Energy World is a weekly 20-minute podcast that provides tips and advice to reduce your home and business energy consumption. Every week we’ll cover topics that will help cut your energy bill, explain new products and technologies in plain English, and cut through the hype so that you can make smart and cost-effective energy choices.
About Your Host
Barry Cinnamon is a long-time advocate of renewable energy and is a widely recognized solar power expert. In 2001 he founded Akeena Solar — which grew to become the largest national residential solar installer by the middle of the last decade with over 10,000 rooftop customers coast to coast. He partnered with Westinghouse to create Westinghouse Solar in 2010, and sold the company in 2012.
His pioneering work on reducing costs of rooftop solar power systems include Andalay, the first solar panel with integrated racking, grounding and wiring; the first UL listed AC solar panel; and the first fully “plug and play” AC solar panel. His current efforts are focused on reducing the soft costs for solar power systems, which cause system prices in the U.S. to be double those of Germany.
Although Barry may be known for his outspoken work in the solar industry, he has hands-on experience with a wide range of energy saving technologies. He’s been doing residential energy audits since the punch card days, developed one of the first ground-source heat pumps in the early ‘80s, and always abides by the Laws of Thermodynamics.
Lead image credit: Patrick Breitenbach | Flickr