Solar Power

The Importance Of Maintaining Solar Panels In The Winter

There is a general misconception that solar panels require heat in order to create energy and are thus ineffective in winter months, but in fact, it is light they require instead. Indeed, since snow reflects light, if this light is reflected on the cells, it can be used. Even light from the moon, the stars and street lights can be of use.

Should the amount of light that penetrates the photovoltaic cells be somehow diminished, this will decrease the amount of energy that can be collected. Besides the panels needing to be oriented correctly towards the sun each season, it is also vital that they be regularly cleaned of dust, water spots, bird droppings and other debris.

Some units have self-cleaning systems that work a bit like windshield wipers. These are effective in the non-winter months, but may even work in the winter depending on the volume of snow and ice that builds up thereon. Devices that do not have such systems will require monthly manual cleaning to ensure that they work at an optimum level. During the non-winter seasons, the panels should be washed gently with warm, soapy water and a dry, non-abrasive cloth. A squeegee can then be used to remove any excess water. In the winter, however, snow and ice can make climbing onto roofs very dangerous. A safer alternative would be to use a snow rake which is a long-handled, modified rake with a squeegee-type blade affixed to the sweeping edge. Then when the weather is persistently cold and snow falls are several inches thick, at least enough of the snow and ice can be removed that the equipment can warm up sufficiently to melt the rest of the snow.

Some units have frost protection circuits whereby the sensors thereof will detect decreasing temperatures and indicate a frost risk. When these circuits are enabled, the freezing point of the devices is lowered and the solar collectors are warm enough to prevent ice particles from forming.

Whenever they are cleaned, solar heating devices should be checked for scratches, cracks and loose parts. If any damage is suspected, a technician should be called into to do the necessary repairs. Furthermore, the sealing should be inspected and silicon sealant used to reseal any damage. Additionally, in the case of solar water heating panels, antifreeze could be put in the tubes along with water during the winter.

Since solar panels do not contain any moving parts, they are reasonably easy and cheap to maintain. By regularly carrying out the necessary checks and cleaning, such devices can have long-term benefits such as keeping heating and lighting costs down and not damaging the environment.

Get inside info on the importance of solar panels maintenance now in our complete online guide to solar power on

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