Although solar panels are known to sustain themselves for a long time without requiring much maintenance, the statement is only limited to areas receiving adequate rainfall throughout the year. Due to their inclined installation, rainfall washes off most of the dirt and dust settlement and keeps the surface clean. However, if the region is dry or the panels have stood for a long time, cleaning by mother nature is no longer enough. PV panel cleaning services then become a necessity to maintain the desired performance and continued support to energy requirements.
Before going into the discussion of how these cleaning services work and whether the solar panel cleaning service cost is worth paying or not, it is important to first understand how exactly do dust and other accumulations affect a solar panel’s performance.
Why clean solar panels?
In an experiment which was conducted over 8 weeks where the researchers allowed dust and debris to accumulate on a few solar panels and recorded the difference in the power output when the panel was totally clean versus the time when dust was settled on them. The power output in week 1 was 1.98 kWh which fell to 1.49 kWh after 8 weeks. Assuming the rate of fall to be steady, the study concluded that dust on those particular solar panels will lead to an annual power loss of 4,292 kW.
Thus, it is evident that an unclean PV panel leads to loss of efficiency. Technically speaking, dust, debris, bird droppings or dead insects, all of these ultimately act as obstructions to sunlight falling on the photovoltaic cells. The unchecked continued loss of power may affect the entire grid-connected system leading to voltage or harmonic distortions which in the worst-case scenario will lead to non-compliance of the MNRE regulations pertaining to solar panels.
With this as the backdrop, let’s now focus on how solar panel cleaning services work in India and what exactly is their function.
How do solar panel cleaning services work?
Cleaning a panel requires expertise. Depending on the output power that you are drawing, a professional service generally brings the following to the table:
Especially in industrial applications where a number of solar panels are connected in series, the output voltage may very well go up to 800 volts. Here, any exposed cable or a loose connection can lead to severe shock hazards. Thus, waterless solar panel cleaningis often employed where using water for such purposes can lead to fatalities. Professional cleaning keeps accidents at bay.
Proper dirt removal
PV panel surfaces require the use of non-abrasive cleaning materials that will not leave a scratch after removing a sticky stain. Hence, a solar panel cleaning system kit used by professional services always comes with cleaning apparatus made of materials like micro-fibre, soft sponge and even the right brushes which are usually not available at hand.
Optimal water quality
The GSES guidelines of water quality to be used for the cleaning of solar panels restricts particulate matter content to 200 ppm or less. This is in accordance with the regulations laid out by the National Institute of Solar Energy (NISE) which functions as an autonomous body under the Ministry of New and Renewable Energy (MNRE). Professional solar cleaning equipment will include de-ionized water where particulate matter is less than 75 ppm that prevent scale buildup of any form.
Water jet pressure
Cleaning solar panels with vinegar is also a recommended norm that is widely in use. But this is usually followed by a water jet spray to clean the entire panel surface. Here again, the nozzle pressure cannot go above 35 bars as it may lead to surface or structural damage of the panel.
There are also cleaning services in India who employ robots equipped with solar panel cleaning rotating brush that are perfect for industrial installations where manual cleaning becomes too tedious. As evident, the solar panel cleaning service price is actually for the expertise professional service providers offer. Decreasing efficiency and power output kills the very purpose of the solar panels. Keeping it clean will allow the installation to deliver its expected performance along with improving its total lifespan and longevity.