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.