Monday, July 6, 2009

Cleaning your Solar Panels to get the maximum production

How many times have I seen Ed Begley Jr. hop up on his roof and clean his solar panels as if he was standing on solid ground without a care in the world? Too many times- actually, this is more a comment on how often the show “Living with Ed” is re-run. I guess a new season is not in the works? Too bad: I guess we will have to live with the limited series it was. Now, getting back to cleaning the panels, what do you do if you are not Ed Begley Jr., or do not at least have his “non-fear” of roofs?

I have already mentioned that a dirty panel can cut as much as 7% annually from your production. It would seem that you should try to find a way to get at least some of the dirt and grime off. There may be a way at “Real Goods”. This is a solution that comes pre-mixed in an applicator bottle. You simply connect it to a hose, get as close to your panels as you can without taking the inevitable plunge off the roof- and spray it on your panels as if you are applying fertilizer to your lawn through a hose end sprayer. That is basically it. You spray the surfactants on, and let it soak into the crud for a few minutes. Then you switch the sprayer to fresh water and rinse the dirty suds away. I am sure it would be better to actually have a brush to physically wash the heavier stuff away, but this is a pretty easy alternative to that heavier job. I am not 100% sure how it has worked yet, but the panels did appear to be cleaner after the treatment. Time and the next PG and E statement will tell if it has helped. It could at least work as in interim solution until you can locate someone else to do it in return of a six-pack of their favorite beer.

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