Solar Panel Cleaning

With the advancement in technology, researchers and designers are moving to green energy to avoid eco-system damage. In this topic we will discuss solar energy in the domain of green energy.  Each technology has its specific functioning requirements and if those aren’t taken care of, their life-cycle reduces and ultimately the output drops. Similar is the case for the functioning and life of the solar panel. The solar panel cleaning is requirement for efficient output delivery.

Why Solar Panel Cleaning is Needed?

A solar panel is made up of tightly packed cells which are technically a semi-conductor diode that play a role in converting the visible light into electricity i.e. direct current (DC). The diode is made up of silicon along with copper and many other metals that function by the movement of electrons and holes.

If the panel is not cleaned properly, then the different types of settlements on the top of cells which include dust, pollen, water droplets, reduces the cell efficiency and light conversion annually. In areas where pollution is at a high rate this issue is faced by the users adversely and thus their installation reason doesn’t fulfill completely with the passage of time. This is due to the fact that the settlements block the visible light completely to reach to the cells so ultimately if less light hits the cell then less direct current production results. To overcome this flaw, the users need to have regular cleaning of the panels.

Types of Solar Panel Cleaning: Specifications

Each panel works effectively according to the demand and area where they are installed. If one bad installation decision is made, the user can face several issues which will ultimately not fulfill their demand and result in a huge loss. Different kind of panels are available for different demands and locations which are as follows:

  1. Thin Filming Panels
  2. Hydrophobic Panels
  3. Hydrophilic Panels

Thin Filming Panels:

These panels contain huge number of tightly packed small cells up to 350 times smaller than the regular panels. They are lighter in weight, easy to transport and furthermore they don’t need extra protective installation care as they are thin sheets which can be easily adjusted and placed instead of hard back panels. Four most expensive element technologies are used in its manufacturing; which are Cadmium Telluride, Amorphous Silicon, Copper Indium Gallium Selenite and Gallium Arsenide. As it is said “Complexity of the structure is directly proportional to the maintenance of the structure”.

Thus, if slight negligence is practiced in the process of cleaning, the efficiency of the panel will be massively effected, due to the tight packaging of small Nano cells together which are effectively contributing to convert the UV-Light to Direct current. Hence the ultimate required output isn’t fulfilled for the user. Therefore, it is recommended not to used thin filming panels for domestic use to high cost at both ends i.e. buying and maintenance.  Below is an attached image of a basic thin film panel:

Thin film solar panel (cleaning)
Think Film Solar Panel

Hydrophobic Panels:

Nano Shell Solar PV or most commonly known hydrophobic panels are a type of solar panels that do not allow droplet settlement on their top glass due to built-in water repelling specifications. Water is one of the basic reasons for the reduction in the efficiency of the solar panel. Once the water is evaporated from the surface, it leaves behind the residues of the absorbed dust on its top. Thus creating a blockage between the sunlight to reach the cells. The hydrophobic coating layer repels water on the top of hydrophobic panels and then converts the water droplets in a spherical shape, which then slides down the surface to bottom wipes along all the dust and thus ultimately cleans the panel.

Below is an attached image that clearly depicts the above stated mechanism:

Hydrophobic phenomenon on solar panels
Hydrophobic Solar panel

Panel must be attached in an inclination so that the sliding down of the water droplet is easy and doesn’t gets settled at one spot. Bird faeces, dust particles and solid particles are also secondary efficiency disrupting causes. Everything in this world can produce good output only if used properly and ergonomically otherwise it is in vain. Similarly, the hydrophobic panels, need to be installed in areas where ample rain is present instead of rain scarce areas.

They need at least 30% annual rain for proper cleaning/maintenance. This Nano-shell solar PV Coat can not only be used on the panel, they can also be used on windows and everything in need of a clear coat for maintenance. For domestic use, these are the most efficient and reasonable panels either in the form of cost or cleaning but for industrial usage these types of panels are not recommended. In industrialization, there are several pollutants in the air which will continuously get in contact with the panel and thus if not required rain occurs or not properly cleaned the usage will lead to failure with heavy cost losses.

Hydrophilic Panels:

Such panels are made up silicon dioxide and magnesium di-fluoride which enable the clear cleaning of the panels with a purified water with zero salt particles and other minerals. If any such mineral is present in the water during cleaning, then the screen of the panel will corrode and will be damaged adversely and hence the target of good efficient output will be affected as the conversion rate will drop to bare minimum.

This type of panel requires an installation of a filtration plant along with the installation of the panels. For industrial usage, such installation are beneficiary as huge capital is available. The investors can easily install a filtration plant. That filtration plant can be used for multi-purpose i.e. for industrial work as well as panel maintenance. Whereas, in domestic use these are not recommended due to heavy installation and maintenance cost.

General Solar Panel Cleaning Pro-Tips for effective Functioning

  1. Bi-monthly clean the panel
  2. Use purified water for maintenance
  3. Install panels at a 45 degree angle
  4. Use appropriate panels at the appropriate location
  5. Technical staff must be used for maintenance

Conclusion

As long as we will keep our technologies green our eco-system will be protected from global warming, thus benefiting the mankind at its maximum. Thus, to obtain the maximum output from the solar panel, they must be maintained, located and cleaned at proper required intervals. A complete technical staff must be used for this special purpose to avoid any inconvenience and output issues. Lastly, use the proper panel technology for proper location, purpose and budget. Otherwise the user might regret the decision of installing such benefiting technology if not ergonomically used. For good output common sense is also a green key.

Here is link of arduino based solar charger with MPPT controller complete project with complete code.

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Alishey Farrukh

A versatile fresh graduate in electrical engineering and currently pursuing masters in electrical engineering. My name is Alishey Farrukh and have an experience of fresh student projects. For further information contact my facebook account facebook.com/alishey.farrukh.

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