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doce

Solar panel cleaning - risk of shock?



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doce

A lot of solar panels installed a few years ago are looking pretty dirty - a lot of lichen too.  Must be an opportunity there as it's going to be affecting output.

 

Is there a risk of electric shock? There's no way of stopping the things producing current, whatever you do to the controls.

 

And what's a reasonable charge per panel outside London if they're reasonably accessible?

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spruce
7 hours ago, doce said:

A lot of solar panels installed a few years ago are looking pretty dirty - a lot of lichen too.  Must be an opportunity there as it's going to be affecting output.

 

Is there a risk of electric shock? There's no way of stopping the things producing current, whatever you do to the controls.

 

And what's a reasonable charge per panel outside London if they're reasonably accessible?

 

This topic has been discussed often before.

 

I have cleaned several solar panels and have never had a shock. Each cell on a solar panel (each little block) produces about 0.5v so a solar panel with 72 cells will produce about 36v. 36v isn't going to kill you unless you have a pace maker. They 'join' a string of panels together in series to raise the voltage and add an invertor inside the loft to raise the voltage to 220v.

If you are using a Gardiner carbon fiber pole then the base pole is covered in a layer of fiberglass. Fiberglass is a non electrical conducting material. Pure water doesn't conduct electricity.

 

I would never clean a solar panel in the heat of the day in summer but would rather wait for a cloudy day after there has been a little rain as the damp will make cleaning panels a little easier.  

 

I don't promote solar panel cleaning as by far the majority of the solar panels in our area are difficult to reach. They can't be done safely standing off a ladder unless you have one of those front hook harnesses, (used by BT and Sky engineers) with the ladder securely tied off. (BT and Sky engineers drill a hole in the wall and fit an anchor bolt to tie the ladder to.

 

The other option is a scaffold tower but you need 2 people to assemble it.

 

Its difficult to discuss price as a customer must see the cost as an advantage. In the north east there is one cleaner who has an advertised price of solar panel cleaning of "from £40" on his van. In the last year he has had 1 job from it and I passed one enquiry to him. He does them off ladders as it needs to be a day when he has a helper with him to foot the ladder.

In my mate's case, if he charged £40 the customer must see that as an advantage to having his panels cleaned - he has to see a big average increase in solar output. 

In my case, none of the customer's I have cleaned panels for have seen a big increase in output after they have been cleaned.

 

 

 

 

 

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scottish cleaning service
Posted (edited)

I cleaned my 16 panels last year on a cloudy day wearing rubber gloves. Used degreaser and then rinsed off with tap water and it made a big difference to my output as they hadn't been done for 6yrs. I will soon be doing mine again but I believe there is only beer money in it unless you are cleaning a panel farm. Cant really charge less than £60 a time or its just a waste of time because of where they are installed, mainly top of roofs.

Edited by scottish cleaning service

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doce

Thanks guys. What’s lichen like to shift? Looks pretty engrained but I’ve never had to tackle it on windows!

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Teaboy

Solar Steve will be all over this in a minute

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spruce
5 hours ago, Teaboy said:

Solar Steve will be all over this in a minute

Is he still on the forums?

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spruce
7 hours ago, scottish cleaning service said:

I cleaned my 16 panels last year on a cloudy day wearing rubber gloves. Used degreaser and then rinsed off with tap water and it made a big difference to my output as they hadn't been done for 6yrs. I will soon be doing mine again but I believe there is only beer money in it unless you are cleaning a panel farm. Cant really charge less than £60 a time or its just a waste of time because of where they are installed, mainly top of roofs.

 

Please may I ask what you mean when you say it made a big difference to my output.

 

Cleaning a solar array has to bring a return on investment in business terms. If you are going to charge £60 then the customer has to see that as a return on his money very quickly and then still reaping the benefits well into the future.

I don't know much about how much solar brings in over a year, but I can't see how a clean of £60 would be recovered in a few months and still see a benefit in 18 months. The trouble is that I can't find anyone who can give me figures in % dirty verses clean because no one has 2 panels running at the same time for comparison.

 

I'm inclined to think that in true valve its probably as you say, beer money. For me its just not worth the risk.

 

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doce
11 minutes ago, spruce said:

 

Please may I ask what you mean when you say it made a big difference to my output.

 

Cleaning a solar array has to bring a return on investment in business terms. If you are going to charge £60 then the customer has to see that as a return on his money very quickly and then still reaping the benefits well into the future.

I don't know much about how much solar brings in over a year, but I can't see how a clean of £60 would be recovered in a few months and still see a benefit in 18 months. The trouble is that I can't find anyone who can give me figures in % dirty verses clean because no one has 2 panels running at the same time for comparison.

 

I'm inclined to think that in true valve its probably as you say, beer money. For me its just not worth the risk.

 

Total payments, including subsidies, may well be approaching £2000 pa.  An efficiency drop-off of just 10% would 'cost' around £200 in a single year. It's not so much the dirt, I reckon - that will just wash off with rain. It's the lichen I mentioned, which won't wash off.

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Pjj
57 minutes ago, spruce said:

Is he still on the forums?

 

No he was banned from ciu 😂😂

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scottish cleaning service

Panels are meant to deteriorate with time but mine seem to get better. Got them installed at the end of 2011 and my feed in tariff goes up each year. Either we are getting more sun up here or because I cleaned my panels they produced more electricity. Last year was the highest amount of energy I have had but we did have a long sunny spell. Cleaning panels cant have a negative effect but there doesn't seem to be much demand for it that's why I just clean my own.

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Pjj

We did solar Steve’s course years ago , I did learn a bit but I feel his attitude of if you don’t attend my course you will all die was ott , we have cleaned many many thousands of panels and non of us have ever received so much as a tingle, however Ime not saying you cannot get a shock solar Steve kept saying that one cleaner nearly died by being g electrocuted but when I pushed him he would never give a name , at the time if you googled it nothing came up world wide , I think he was scaremongering and trying to dissuade ones from cleaning them to gain more work for himself  , he has single-handedly ruined the market he offered us 16 pence a panel , I told him exactly what he could do with his panels , I have taken the decision not to do any more large solar farms as it’s not cost effective we earn far more doing domestic/commercial window cleaning , the most we do now is ones on houses I have a minimum charge of £60 for the first 16 panels then £3 per panel after that , removing licken from panels can be hard work evan with hot water , you must not use chemicals on the panels according to the manufacturers we dealt with , if you want tk clean them then just have a good look before you start for any damage , my guys hate doing them and so do I , there are some people on the other forum recone they earn good money doing them but you need to be able to clean at least 800 panels per day per man best I ever did was 1200 and it was still no where near what I could earn on Windows and was boring repetative work and used tones of water ,  my advice for what it’s worth would be focus on building a decent window round 

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spruce
6 minutes ago, scottish cleaning service said:

Panels are meant to deteriorate with time but mine seem to get better. Got them installed at the end of 2011 and my feed in tariff goes up each year. Either we are getting more sun up here or because I cleaned my panels they produced more electricity. Last year was the highest amount of energy I have had but we did have a long sunny spell. Cleaning panels cant have a negative effect but there doesn't seem to be much demand for it that's why I just clean my own.

 

Probably because installers tell the customers that the rain will keep them clean. According to Solar Steve, they had to sell and convince customers operating solar farms that regular cleaning maintenance was cost effective. 

 

 

 

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scottish cleaning service

They say they are made of self cleaning glass. There is only one thing that will give the maximum energy and that's automatic sun tracking. The panels can produce 120% more than they should in really hot days but it can burnout the inverter. That's what happened to my mate last year when we had the sunny spell. Cost him a grand and a few hundred in feed in tariff. I was lucky because they didn't have any 250w panels when I got mine and ended up with 245w and a couple of 2kw inverters. You would think the Middle East would be full of panels but I heard it was too hot for them. 

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Pjj
4 hours ago, spruce said:

 

Please may I ask what you mean when you say it made a big difference to my output.

 

Cleaning a solar array has to bring a return on investment in business terms. If you are going to charge £60 then the customer has to see that as a return on his money very quickly and then still reaping the benefits well into the future.

I don't know much about how much solar brings in over a year, but I can't see how a clean of £60 would be recovered in a few months and still see a benefit in 18 months. The trouble is that I can't find anyone who can give me figures in % dirty verses clean because no one has 2 panels running at the same time for comparison.

 

I'm inclined to think that in true valve its probably as you say, beer money. For me its just not worth the risk.

 

  We have several customers who have free electric during the day and get paid around £1200 per year from the feed in tariff we clean there panels every year for around £60-80 and they say that they notice up to 25% more output from the panels so they are more than happy to pay our charges , the interesting thing hear isa friend of mine runs a b&b and has 36 panels on his roof they were 6 years old and never been cleaned , I cleaned them for him and the output didn’t alter at all , so I think it depends what’s on the panel and if it’s the older type of panel where one cell covered in bird poo wipes out the charge from the whole panel , the latest panels only the covered or dirty part of the panel is removed from the production rate not the whole panel , hope this makes sense .

We used to do a lot of arrays on farms and quite often the panels were covered in nearly a quarter of an inch of mud that had gone on the panels s as dust then got wet and turned to mud and practically wiped out production all together , we were cleaning them every 3 months ,at times there was 15 operatives cleaning and organising enough pure water and transporting it all over the county was a nightmare , sometimes we were working 100 miles away from home , I hated doing them and financially it was not worth doing , where we are there are tens of thousands of panels we were doing over 20 farms it started taking over my window cleaning business so I had to make a decision where I wanted the business to go in , so opted to give up the farm work as most of it was using cherry pickers , mewps, or fall arrest equipment for weeks on end and it was far harder work than cleaning windows , giving it up was the best decision I have ever made , we were recommended by the installers to clean there arrays as we started doing the ones on there offices and they liked what we did , if anyone down my way wants to do some I might still be able to put some work your way as they still email me wanting us to do stuff , but I won’t do it any more , far to much hassle and very little financial reward and then you get behind with your regular window work . 

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spruce
Posted (edited)
10 hours ago, Pjj said:

  We have several customers who have free electric during the day and get paid around £1200 per year from the feed in tariff we clean there panels every year for around £60-80 and they say that they notice up to 25% more output from the panels so they are more than happy to pay our charges , the interesting thing hear isa friend of mine runs a b&b and has 36 panels on his roof they were 6 years old and never been cleaned , I cleaned them for him and the output didn’t alter at all , so I think it depends what’s on the panel and if it’s the older type of panel where one cell covered in bird poo wipes out the charge from the whole panel , the latest panels only the covered or dirty part of the panel is removed from the production rate not the whole panel , hope this makes sense .

We used to do a lot of arrays on farms and quite often the panels were covered in nearly a quarter of an inch of mud that had gone on the panels s as dust then got wet and turned to mud and practically wiped out production all together , we were cleaning them every 3 months ,at times there was 15 operatives cleaning and organising enough pure water and transporting it all over the county was a nightmare , sometimes we were working 100 miles away from home , I hated doing them and financially it was not worth doing , where we are there are tens of thousands of panels we were doing over 20 farms it started taking over my window cleaning business so I had to make a decision where I wanted the business to go in , so opted to give up the farm work as most of it was using cherry pickers , mewps, or fall arrest equipment for weeks on end and it was far harder work than cleaning windows , giving it up was the best decision I have ever made , we were recommended by the installers to clean there arrays as we started doing the ones on there offices and they liked what we did , if anyone down my way wants to do some I might still be able to put some work your way as they still email me wanting us to do stuff , but I won’t do it any more , far to much hassle and very little financial reward and then you get behind with your regular window work . 

 

I know this was a big issue with early panels but I never thought about the how this relates to cleaning them. Solar has never been a consideration for us (son and myself) as access to most roofs is too dangerous.

We only have one solar panel farm near us (that I'm aware of). I just can't imagine how monotonous it must been cleaning 800 to 1000 panels every day. I find window cleaning isn't the most mentally stimulating job but cleaning solar panels has to be 100 time worst. YouTube has a few videos out where some farms are using rotary brushes driven by especially designed 'tractors'. So maybe the days of manual cleaning are numbered.

 

If memory serves me didn't Solar Steve also need to add some 4 x 4's into his 'fleet' to cope with the sites the panels are built on.

Our local solar farm is built on poor terrain on a steep slope. I would hesitate to take my van onto that site.

 

 

Edited by spruce

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Green Pro Clean Ltd

Solar Steve is also banned from here.  Face it if you got banned from CIU you got to be something special. 

 

There is no money in cleaning solar farms.  I have heard as low as 8p per panel quoted.  

 

Residential we charge £3 per panel with a minimum charge of £45. 

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RWCleaning

A customer of mine owns a solar panel farm on his land, 13 acres of panels I think. His full time maintenance man was telling how the company cleans them.

 

He said they use this machine that looks like a tractor with something that looks like a rotating car wash brush thing you get a petrol stations which you drive through.

 

 Interesting though, he said that when they first starting coming, they used to leave this strip off substance, a bit like silicone he said, and when the algae & moss grew etc, the next time they’d come back they take the strip sample which would have the dirt, algae etc take it back to their labs then find/make a special preservative to combat that specific type of algae.

 

He said that they don’t get no where near as dirty these days and they come every 6 months I think. 

 

I said I didn’t think you could use chemicals on solar panels, he just rolled his bottom lip, shrugged his shoulders then we changed conversation.

 

Have you guys heard of that? 

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doce

Chemicals are a big no no, I hear. But £3 a panel seems about right - so long as that lichen doesn't take too long to shift.

 

Any other tips for a quick but efficient job, with co customer complaints? Do they damage easily?

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Pjj
2 hours ago, RWCleaning said:

A customer of mine owns a solar panel farm on his land, 13 acres of panels I think. His full time maintenance man was telling how the company cleans them.

 

He said they use this machine that looks like a tractor with something that looks like a rotating car wash brush thing you get a petrol stations which you drive through.

 

 Interesting though, he said that when they first starting coming, they used to leave this strip off substance, a bit like silicone he said, and when the algae & moss grew etc, the next time they’d come back they take the strip sample which would have the dirt, algae etc take it back to their labs then find/make a special preservative to combat that specific type of algae.

 

He said that they don’t get no where near as dirty these days and they come every 6 months I think. 

 

I said I didn’t think you could use chemicals on solar panels, he just rolled his bottom lip, shrugged his shoulders then we changed conversation.

 

Have you guys heard of that? 

 

 

We we used to do a lot of work for one of the largest solar manufacturer s  in the country , there md told me that no chemicals are to be used on the panels , if you do and a panel then goes wrong they test it and if they detected any chemicals you could be held responsible for the panel replacement cost I have all this in writing from them somewhere. 

2 hours ago, doce said:

Chemicals are a big no no, I hear. But £3 a panel seems about right - so long as that lichen doesn't take too long to shift.

 

Any other tips for a quick but efficient job, with co customer complaints? Do they damage easily?

 

Mid panels have licken on them give them a good wet down first with tap water this makes the licken go soft as they want to absorb the water , they will then come off a lot easier 

3 hours ago, spruce said:

 

I know this was a big issue with early panels but I never thought about the how this relates to cleaning them. Solar has never been a consideration for us (son and myself) as access to most roofs is too dangerous.

We only have one solar panel farm near us (that I'm aware of). I just can't imagine how monotonous it must been cleaning 800 to 1000 panels every day. I find window cleaning isn't the most mentally stimulating job but cleaning solar panels has to be 100 time worst. YouTube has a few videos out where some farms are using rotary brushes driven by especially designed 'tractors'. So maybe the days of manual cleaning are numbered.

 

If memory serves me didn't Solar Steve also need to add some 4 x 4's into his 'fleet' to cope with the sites the panels are built on.

Our local solar farm is built on poor terrain on a steep slope. I would hesitate to take my van onto that site.

 

 

 

 

The tractors are a good idear problem is where I am some of the terrain and space between the rows of panels isn’t enough to get it through 

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Teaboy
5 hours ago, spruce said:

 

I know this was a big issue with early panels but I never thought about the how this relates to cleaning them. Solar has never been a consideration for us (son and myself) as access to most roofs is too dangerous.

We only have one solar panel farm near us (that I'm aware of). I just can't imagine how monotonous it must been cleaning 800 to 1000 panels every day. I find window cleaning isn't the most mentally stimulating job but cleaning solar panels has to be 100 time worst. YouTube has a few videos out where some farms are using rotary brushes driven by especially designed 'tractors'. So maybe the days of manual cleaning are numbered.

 

If memory serves me didn't Solar Steve also need to add some 4 x 4's into his 'fleet' to cope with the sites the panels are built on.

Our local solar farm is built on poor terrain on a steep slope. I would hesitate to take my van onto that site.

 

 

haha you mean he bought a l200 as his personal vehicle, I just dont get how there is never a positive story from somebody about him.......

 

everyone is negative either from an attitude point or about an event that happened.....

 

 

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dazmond

ive had little electric shocks down my right arm when cleaning some solar panels a few years ago.....a very uncomfortable feeling......ive never had it since when cleaning them though....im still here to tell the tale so it couldnt of been that bad......

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Trent Valley Cleaning

Hi Guys

I’ve found this thread an interesting one.

I’ve installed solar panels (Domestic/Commercial) I have them on my property and I’m now a window cleaner.

A couple of points 

Solar panels are connected in such a way that the voltages that you are dealing with will kill! 400V DC - 1000V DC

However they should NEVER be installed in such a way that you would get a shock cleaning them.

Solar panels, connectors and inverters are designed to be installed to withstand weather, human contact etc and to be safe.

 

I personally wouldn’t pay to have my panels cleaned! I earn £300ish a year (Late to the FiT) + the savings. £60 for a clean eats in to benefits.

Dust and normal dirt has little impact on the output of the panels and a heavy shower will sort this. However I’ve seen panels installed under TV aerials for example and one of the panels is covered in bird ****. This will have huge impact on output and would be worth cleaning.

(Solar panel strings are only as good as their weakest panel)

 

 

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dazmond
20 hours ago, Trent Valley Cleaning said:

Hi Guys

I’ve found this thread an interesting one.

I’ve installed solar panels (Domestic/Commercial) I have them on my property and I’m now a window cleaner.

A couple of points 

Solar panels are connected in such a way that the voltages that you are dealing with will kill! 400V DC - 1000V DC

However they should NEVER be installed in such a way that you would get a shock cleaning them.

Solar panels, connectors and inverters are designed to be installed to withstand weather, human contact etc and to be safe.

 

I personally wouldn’t pay to have my panels cleaned! I earn £300ish a year (Late to the FiT) + the savings. £60 for a clean eats in to benefits.

Dust and normal dirt has little impact on the output of the panels and a heavy shower will sort this. However I’ve seen panels installed under TV aerials for example and one of the panels is covered in bird ****. This will have huge impact on output and would be worth cleaning.

(Solar panel strings are only as good as their weakest panel)

 

 

i have the odd window cleaning customer that have their solar panels cleaned periodically(usually once a year).if their near farmers fields they get really dirty over the course of a year or two and of course near aerials due to bird muck....

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wezza13
On 24/04/2019 at 23:51, Trent Valley Cleaning said:

However I’ve seen panels installed under TV aerials for example and one of the panels is covered in bird ****. This will have huge impact on output and would be worth cleaning.

 

 

 

 

Cleaned some last week, that were installed under a TV aerial, was a right pig to clean off all of the bird s**t! He said they hadn't been cleaned since they'd been installed 6 years ago.

 

Lots of soaking was involved but they came up really well. He wants a repeat clean every 6 months, so will ask if it made a difference to the output.

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