Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Cleaning the PV panels

12 April '11: I am happy with the solar capture of our PV roof this month, the weather has been good. But one has this slight suspicion that it is not as good as when the panels were new.
   This last few weeks have been a very dry month - I put a wheelbarrow out about 10 days ago and it is still completely dry. If any night drizzle fell, it evaporated quickly. In these conditions, even self cleaning PV panels have a problem. There isn't enough rainfall to flush them clean (taking advantage of the self cleaning coating). Even a light drizzle will carry amounts of atmospheric dust (either falling from the sky or stirred up by daytime motor traffic) and this evaporates before it has time to run off, leaving behind a film of dust that cakes up in the sunshine.

So on returning from New York, one of my first jobs was to set up a ladder and the hose, climb up and give them all a good squirt of fresh water. I can't reach them all with a brush, but am hoping that a strong water flow from the garden hose will help them. They were very 'matt' in appearance before being cleaned.
  I will keep an eye on the figures for next few weeks and try to gauge if that improved things.

At this stage I need to add a 'Do not try this at home' rider. 
As I have built and adapted the Sunboxes, I have got very used to climbing up and down a ladder, and take precautions with a harness, helmet and steel capped boots. No fear of heights, and a very good ladder with a clip-on safety feature that makes it more stable. The job needs a hosepipe end that is controllable and can turn the flow on or off and project it a good distance. So if you really think this needs doing, get someone to do it for you at the start of the summer. See the article written by Karina Wells:
Brian cleaning Karina's panels, using the Velux rooflight
To contact Brian call him on 07974-550118 or email : coopez@hotmail.co.uk.
My regular window cleaner has a very long brush with water pumped down the handle like this, and he might be prepared to do it, although I think window cleaners hate going up ladders - steeplejacks seem to be more brave. Brian is part of the West Bridgford Skills Exchange, so if there is something useful you can do for him, he will do this for you!

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