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Wednesday, November 9, 2016

Get More From Your Solar Panels - Keep Them Clean!

Right After Install
   Today, I went down to my RV to check out how everything was doing after winterizing it a few weeks ago and was VERY surprised that I was only producing a few watts of power from my solar charging system. Oh great, now what?! Well, thankfully, after taking a look on the roof it became obvious that all the panels were covered in pine needles, dirt and debris! A while back, I experienced a total failure of my original panels. It was quite a shock to see the newest ones producing so little power! Believe me, it was a relief to find out the problem was so simple. Clean your panels! Why is it so important??


Yuck!
Solar panels rely on the sun (Duh.) to make electricity to charge your batteries. If the sunlight can't get to the panel surface they don't produce squat. That's obvious. What isn't so obvious is that a small amount of dirt will make a BIG difference in your electrical production. Shade is the enemy, whether it comes from trees, poles, helicopters or dirt on your panels it's bad. Also, abrasion from dirt and debris can permanently scratch the surface finish of your panels and degrade their performance forever. Depending upon what the surface of your panels is made from (or covered with) use an appropriate cleaner. Mine are a plastic, semi-flexible material, so once washed with plain water to get rid of the "bigger stuff," I use a non-abrasive cleaner (usually a little soap in water) and a microfiber cloth to finish the cleaning. So far, works great with no scratches, abrasions or discoloration.

Cleaned Again!
Solar power can be a wonderful thing! It's quiet, unlike generators. It's free to use (though not to purchase nor install) and can really extend your time without needing to connect to shore power. As a "boondocker" I truly love my solar charging system! With just a tiny bit of maintenance, most solar panels and their associate charging systems should give you years of trouble-free service. When they work they are, essentially, invisible to the user. When they don't.....stress and angst begin. Well, at least they do when I'm involved!

Be nice to your solar panels and they will be nice to you.

Be Seeing You...Down The Road,

Rich "The Wanderman"
www.thewanderman.com

10 comments:

  1. I just installed 5 diaphanous panels on my motorhome. I did much negotiating with myself first because of people saying that solar panels get hot and don't work as well if they don't have air circulation. The fact that I really didn't want to put dozens of screws in my roof finally won out. I see that you chose the same thing. Were you at all concerned with the potential heat problem?

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    Replies
    1. Roy,
      Since I use a paralastic adhesive under my panels, it acts a a sort of heat sink for the panels. They do get hot. Around 154 DEG. F., but heat has not caused any issues with failure rates. However, the hotter the panel the less power it will provide. Check the ratings on your panels and see what the max is.

      Rich "The Wanderman"

      Delete
  2. That much heat isn't a problem for the roof either?

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    Replies
    1. Roy,
      My roof is fiberglass with a steel frame. No worries there.

      Rich "The Wanderman"

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  3. How long have you had those panels?

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    Replies
    1. Roy,
      This set, just over a year. No degradation at all so far.

      Rich "The Wanderman"

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    2. I am new to this and wanted the flexable panel blogs part 1 and 2. Had a dealer here in Lake Worth Fl tell me to use the framed no flex style. Where do I find updates on what you are now using? I too don't want to put screw holes in my fiberglas RV roof!! Don Weaver donrweaver@gmail.com

      Delete
    3. Don,
      Since I have the panels made for me as I change the design, they aren't really available. However, there are some 100 watt versions on that huge auction site that will work fine. They have the grommets in them as well. The most critical part is using the correct adhesive and prepping your roof properly. That's covered in the articles.

      Thanks!

      Rich "The Wanderman"

      Delete
  4. do you have any new info on going into production on the prototypes?and if not do you have a suggestion for which panels are good that are available?

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    Replies
    1. companyofquail,
      We have abandoned the production of protoypes in the US. Too expensive and difficult to get a delivery schedule firmed up. There are maxeon style panels available online at various auction sites. Usually around 100 watts each.

      Thanks,

      Rich "The Wanderman"

      Delete

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