Facts About Cleaning Solar Panels

Once you have solar panels installed, you may think your work is done. After all, you’re doing your part to lessen dependence on fossil fuels and increase usage of renewable energies. But, if you don’t properly maintain your solar panels, they won’t work nearly as efficiently as they should. Just as you regularly wash your windows or change the oil in your car, so should you employ professional solar panel cleaners to keep your solar panels working well. These facts about cleaning solar panels explain why keeping them clean is so important.

facts about cleaning solar panels

 

Dust and Leaves Block Sunlight

Over the years, it’s common for dust and leaves to accumulate on your solar panels. They’re just like any other surface in that grime builds up over time if you don’t remove it. While a small amount of dust or just a few leaves won’t affect the efficiency of your solar panels much, if you let dust and leaves fully cover the panels’ surfaces, less sunlight will get through to the solar panel receptors. Therefore, your solar panels won’t be absorbing as much light as possible, making them work harder than necessary.

Bird Droppings Block Sunlight

Even more harmful than dust to your solar panels’ ability to work efficiently are bird droppings. Sunlight simply can’t penetrate bird droppings, so if you let it build up on your solar panels, you’re not fully taking advantage of the sunlight to store energy. This is especially true if you have a lot of trees in your yard that are shedding leaves and providing a haven for birds, who then naturally do their business onto your solar panels. The combination of leaves and bird droppings can really make it difficult for your solar panels to do their job.

Energy Loss is Real

Studies show that by not cleaning your solar panels regularly, you’ll have a 5% energy loss after just three months. This increases by 5% every three months that you go without cleaning your solar panels until you’re experiencing a 35% energy loss 24 months after you’ve installed your solar panels. This means you’re spending more money for energy than you should be because your solar panels aren’t working efficiently.

Professional Solar Panel Cleaning is the Way to Go

You may think that cleaning your solar panels is simple and a task that you can do on your own without professional assistance. But, keep in mind that professional solar panel cleaners are experienced with working on roofs and have all the necessary safety equipment to ensure they don’t take a dangerous fall. It’s always advised that if you want to clean your own solar panels that you do it by implementing a long-handled cleaning tool that allows you to reach the panels from the ground.

solar panels pigeon issue

Additionally, you may not want to add another chore to your to-do list, especially one that comes with a risk of falling (if you decide to clean them from the roof). Purchasing safety equipment along with the right cleaning tools may be too much of a hassle when you can simply call up a solar panel cleaning expert and have the task taken care of for you in no time at all.

Conclusion

No one really thinks about cleaning their solar panels until they realize how much energy (and money) they’re losing by allowing dust and debris to build up on them. Add solar panel cleaning to your regular house maintenance schedule and you’ll keep reaping the maximum energy production from your solar panels.

The Concept of Passive House: An Interview with Toyin-Ann Yerifor

Green building concepts have come a long way. As architects, designers, and builders gain access to better tools that help push the limits of construction energy efficiency; we see longer strides made towards more mainstream adoption of green building standards. One such standard that is coming of age is passive houses. The concept of passive houses was first mooted in the early eighties when the idea of green homes was still in its infancy. Today, the concept is well entrenched with over 25,000 houses and buildings across the world qualifying as passive houses.

We recently caught up with Toyin-Ann Yerifor, an architectural consultant focused on exploring new and innovative ways to design with reduced impact on the environment to explain what passive houses are and their benefits. She holds an MSc in Architecture (AEES) from the University of East London, an MBA from the University of Northampton and an MSc in Computer Science and Engineering from the Université Grenoble Alpes.

What is a Passive House?

First, what is a passive house? Toyin-Ann explains: A passive house is any building that adheres to rigorous energy efficiency standards. The term passive comes from the fact that the building’s energy efficiency comes from its passive structures, which include the roof, walls, windows, doors, and floor. By radically improving the building’s insulation and energy conservation features, it is possible to reduce its heating requirements by up to ninety percent. As such, passive housing as a standard is focused on helping reduce the energy requirements of buildings through insulation, and by extension, their overall energy footprint.

When you reduce a building’s energy footprint, says Toyin-Ann, several benefits accrue, including environmental, health, and cost efficiency benefits.

Environmental Benefits of Passive Houses

According to the International Energy Agency (IEA), “energy efficiency is the first fuel of a sustainable global energy system. It can mitigate climate change, improve energy security, and grow economies while delivering environmental and social benefits.” Passive houses deliver on this mandate superbly, says Toyin-Ann Yerifor.

One of the biggest challenges traditional buildings face is energy loss. When a building easily loses energy in the form of heat, it takes burning more fuel to heat the building. When this happens, overall energy consumption goes up, which is bad for the environment because a major portion of heat generation comes from burning fossil fuels. When buildings are radically energy efficient, on the other hand, less energy is required, and so fewer fossil fuels need to be burned.

While this is the macro view of the environmental benefits of passive houses, are there any micro benefits of investing in this technology? Here are two, says Toyin-Ann Yerifor. First, think of the air quality that comes with less energy consumption. In homes that rely on furnaces, doing away with the furnace improves the air quality in and around the home significantly.

Second, sound pollution is eliminated if you no longer need to use a furnace, HVAC units around the home, or any other heat generation and management devices. Essentially, says Toyin-Ann Yerifor, passive houses reduce the need to burden the environment. Through radical energy efficiency and self-sufficiency, passive house buildings become a part of the environment and not just an addition to it.

Health and Comfort Benefits

When most people hear about passive houses, they imagine living in a sealed paper bag. That thought can be quite disheartening because issues of quality of air, air adequacy, and comfort come to mind. Although the idea behind passive houses is energy efficiency through a tightly sealed envelope (building), this does not mean health and comfort are compromised. Take air quality, for instance. Most people consider opening a window the best way to guarantee air quality in a room. Now, passive houses rely on closed windows to ensure no heat escapes, which presents a dilemma. Passive houses address this dilemma well, says Toyin-Ann Yerifor.

Although you can open a window in a passive house, even if you do not, the heat recovery ventilation system ensures there is enough quality air circulating the house. Regarding comfort, passive houses maintain a comfortable temperature regulated by the passive heat sources in the house like appliances, body heat, and lighting. Also, they tend not to have cold spots or hot spots, which is often the case with traditionally heated homes. Through rigorous design standards afforded by tools such as the Passive House Planning Package, homes built on the passive house standard adhere to comfort standards as rigorous as the energy efficiency standards stipulated.

Cost Efficiency Benefits

Cost efficiency is at the heart of the passive house concept. When a building is exceptionally well insulated, it can use as little as 10 percent of its regular heating energy requirements. This, of course, also significantly reduces the costs associated with heating the building. So, how does the passive house concept achieve such a radical reduction in energy needs? The answer is insulation, says Toyin-Ann Yerifor. Passive houses rely on extensive insulation to gain this level of energy efficiency. Why is insulation so effective?

Traditional buildings lose a lot of heat through the roof, walls, floor, doors, and, most of all, windows. With a passive house, each of these structures is carefully designed and built to ensure close to zero loss of heat. When you look at the thermal scan of a passive house next to a traditional house, you’ll notice the passive house is almost entirely blue, meaning there’s close to no energy loss. The other building is close to all red, meaning it is losing a lot of energy. This level of energy conservation and efficiency is what leads to the massive energy savings that make passive houses so cost-efficient.

Passive houses are a concept that is yet to hit mainstream construction. However, this does not mean it is impractical to build passive houses. What it does point to is the need for better awareness of the concept. Toyin-Ann Yerifor recommends anyone interested in the concept to visit a passive house showcase home to experience its benefits firsthand. She says this is the only way to understand and internalize this breakthrough energy efficiency concept.