February 17, 2009 When we think of solar panels we think of saving energy, burning less fossil fuel and reducing greenhouse gases that contribute to global warming. Few of us however realize that by not cleaning the panels regularly they could lose up to 30% of their power, off setting these benefits and costing us money. To address this problem, Heliotex a Southern Californian based supplier of solar panel cleaning systems and solar panel anti-theft devices has announced the release of the first patent pending automatic cleaning systems for business and home solar panels.
How the system works
Once the Heliotex system is installed and programmed, it requires no further attention except the occasional refilling of the soap concentrate and replacement of the deionized water filters. The system can be programmed to wash and rinse as often as you feel is necessary. The company places spray nozzles at each panel, connecting to the existing water supply. A 110V power supply is required to run the controller. The specially formulated soap concentrate is mixed into the line for the wash cycle to clean the panels. There is also a second rinse cycle. Heliotex recommend that the panels are washed approximately every one to two weeks and rinsed every two to three days to keep accumulations of dirt and debris from building up on the panels. It says that for a regular 50 solar panel residential system you would replace soap and filters approximately once every six months, assuming the system is washed every two weeks. The system can be adapted to any panel array configuration, whether 20 or 20,000 panels.
Apart from the environmental benefits and cost savings from reduced power consumption, the automated washing system eliminates the risks associated with having to manually clean the panels. These include potential damage to the roof or panels and the risk of injury or liability to the person conducting the manual operation. In addition to these, Heliotex says that their specially formulated biodegradable soap concentrate eliminates damage to the solar panels, frames or roofing materials associated with other cleaning products. Timing the wash cycle to occur when the sun is not shining on the panels reduces the risk of damage from residual build up of detergent concentrates.
Heliotex offer a 10 year warranty on all parts in the system and can also provide a security fastener for securing the solar panel system.
Something worth considering if you intend to purchase a system would be the impact of the detergent, if you happen to collect rainwater from your roof for drinking. If water availability is limited, consideration needs to be given to the amount used for washing and rinsing the panels.
For further information visit Heliotex on line.