Spring Clean

I was recently reading the current edition of ReNew magazine, which is all about sustainable living and renewable energy.  Within there was an article about Solar PV system maintenance, which I learnt a lot of information about the benefits of cleaning your panels regularly.

Over the period of a year, dirt and bird droppings can build up which cannot be squirted off with just water from the hose.  This layer of dirt can degrade performance of each panel by at least 5%.  So today, I did something about it.  I found an old car windscreen squeegee and connected it to a long pole, climbed up on the garage roof, and cleaned each of the 16 panels.  The cleaning agent was simple and green, just 8 litres of water to 1 litre of white vinegar.

Here is a picture of me.  I had completed 9 panels by this time.  Before I went up on the roof I took all electrical safety precautions.  I isolated the inverter at the dual pole switch, and once up on the roof, I isolated the DC current at the junction box.  With all the panels isolated from each other, it was a slim chance that I would get a shock.  The water after I finished was filthy and so was the water that was streaming off of each panel as I cleaned them.  It just goes to show how much dirt was stuck to them.

So after I finished I turned it all back on again, and guess what (no pun intended)?  The output had increased by just over 150 watts (a 6% improvement for a 2.8 kW system), and this was even after the solar noon where the output of the panels should have been going down.  The proof will be that we should generate an extra kilowatt hour tomorrow if it is a similar sunny day. 

Then it was on to the chookhouse, and I gave the girls home a muck out.  I separated their droppings and kept them in a bucket to make a liquid fertiliser, and kept the straw for another layer of cob for the oven we are applying next weekend.

After a quick sweep of the veranda around the oven, it was the pools turn for a clean.  As I mentioned the other day, I clean it manually to save on electricity for the pump, and I do a far better job than the Creepy Crawly does anyway. 

Kim was trying to take artistic shot of the pool whilst I was cleaning it.  Anyway, it took me an hour to vacuum it and afterwards I checked the chlorine levels, which were fine.  The pool was only 16C, so I was not going in for a swim just yet.  I think I need to leave the solar blanket on for a week so that it heats up a little!

It looked very clean afterwards.  Just like a resort.  Then it was time to relax with a glass of wine in our new gazebo.  What a great way to spend a Sunday.  I thoroughly enjoyed it.


  1. says

    Huh?! If you didn’t have a bio-directional meter, how did you connect to the grid? 😉

    And why did it take a year to get it up and running? Maybe you have already blogged about this and could point me to your post?

  2. says

    @ Froogs. I know what you mean, although our winters a not half as bad as they are in the UK. I lived in Portsmouth for 6 months when I was on exchange with the RN.

    @ Linda. I connected to the grid on the same day as the installation, however the independent inspector didn’t turn up for another week, so I may have had it on illegally. As for getting a bi-directional meter, that took another year plus another electrical inspection!

    Gav x

  3. says

    Hi Gavin, I’m really enjoying following your blog. There is always something of interest! I wondered if you could tell me how long it took between installation of your system and being connected to the grid. We had panels installed last week and are currently going through the process of organising connection and desperately trying to get the current feed-in tarriff on time!

  4. says

    lovely! i want your sunny weather, can you post some to me>? It’s now going to rain, be foggy and damp, cold and frosty, with intermittent snow, gales, down pours, sleet and hail until March – love shivery froogs xxxx

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