January, 2021 | BCS Cleaning Specialists

How Should I Care For My Solar Panels In Winter?

January 28, 2021

During the winter, the sun doesn’t make it as high in the sky during the day (it’s like even the sun is trying to conserve energy!); as a result, your solar panels will give less output in winter because there is less energy available for them to absorb. Snow accumulation can also reduce the surface area available to soak up the sun and thus hamper your solar panels’ ability to absorb the sun’s energy. While it might be tempting to just hide under the covers during the winter months, continuing to care for your solar panels is a necessity if you want them to keep working for you during even the frostiest  days. 

But have no fear – BCS Cleaning Utah are here! Our solar panel experts have created a few simple steps for you to follow in caring for your solar panels during the chillier months. While some of these might seem blindingly obvious, sometimes these are the ones that get most easily pushed to the side. So here are our top tips for keeping your solar panels shipshape during winter:

 

1 Conserve Energy

While conserving energy is definitely a hot topic (hot, ha!) at the moment, it’s not exciting to do (who wants to traipse around the house turning off light switches?). But with if you can bear the extra effort, there are a few, small things you can do to keep your solar panels producing energy at their very best:

  • Turn off lights when you don’t need them (we’ll just get that one out of the way at the beginning!).
  • Make sure your house is properly insulated. Poor insulation results in ineffective heat-retention, which in turn will make your solar panels have to work harder.
  • Heat has a habit of escaping wherever it can sneak out. For example, make sure to close the damper when your fireplace is not in use, thermal curtains can make a big difference to heat retention. And make sure to check your air ducts early in the season for any breaks or leaks.
  • Use energy efficient lightbulbs. A 15-watt energy efficient CFL can give you the same light output as a 60-watt standard bulb. Plus it will save you 75% in energy consumption. Woohoo!

 

2 Care For Solar-Panel Batteries

Since your solar panels’ deep cycle batteries are the source of all your power (storage and output), it makes sense to maintain them, especially during winter’s harsher months. Here are a few things you can do:

  • If batteries are not installed indoors, make sure that the battery compartment is properly insulated, as lead-acid batteries can freeze at subzero temperatures.
  • For off-grid solar systems, make sure you have enough anti-freeze distilled-water on-hand for the batteries, as well as keeping a close eye on the water levels.
  • Check your battery voltage regularly. If it falls below 12 Volts DC, you will need to charge your batteries.

 

3 Adjust the angle of your panels

This was one of those ‘duh!’ moments for us – it seems so logical when you think about it. One reason why your panels don’t receive enough sunlight during the winter can be simply that the sun is at a lower angle throughout most of the day. To easily adjust for this, use an adjustable rack to modify your panels at a 15-degree angle.

 

4 Scrape off excess snow

It stands to reason that if your solar panels are covered in snow, they’re not going to absorb much (if any) light. Snow often takes care of its own removal once the weather warms up a day or two after the storm, but that might not be soon enough for you, and if cold temperatures linger, the snow and ice encrusting your solar panels won’t be going anywhere fast. 

If your panels are high up on your rooftop, it’s not worth the risk of trying to clean them yourself. The easiest and safest solution is to call in the professionals at BCS to clean your panels for you. We have the specialist equipment and training to make sure your panels get cleaned right and restored to their peak operating capacity.

Give our specialists a call today at 801 561 1730. We’ll set your solar panels to rights in a jiffy!

How Do I Clean Remove Snow From Roof-Mounted Solar Panels?

January 21, 2021

Solar panels are a fantastic, planet-saving, feel-good creation. But if they can’t see the sun and the sun can’t see them, there’s not going to be a whole lot of solar panel action going on. One of the biggest challenges for keeping solar panels ready for sun-worship can be winter, with the never-ending onslaught of snow, rain and ice determined to shroud them in mystery.

Depending on the kind of house or roof you have and your ease of access, there are several things you can do to remove the precipitous precipitation:

 

  1. If you know you have the weather for it just around the corner, wait for the snow to melt off. Depending on your roof’s pitch and which direction it faces, this can happen surprisingly fast.
  2. Spray the panels with a hose. Be mindful of the ambient temperature if you’re going to try this – you want to melt the snow, not turn it into an encrusted sheet of ice. And if the temperature difference between the hose water and surface is too great, you can potentially crack the solar panels. So employ this method with caution and care.
  3. Sweep the panels clean with a broom if you have easy and safe access to the roof. Be careful not to inadvertently damage them by using bristles that are too stiff – you want to brush the snow, not scrape it.
  4. A leaf blower connected to a PVC pipe or a long plastic air hose is a creative way to melt or blow snow off your panels.

Solar panels can be a blessing from the gods of renewable energy, but they also present unique maintenance challenges. If you’d rather get professional help to deal with your snow situation, give the experts at BCS Utah a call today at 801 561 1730.

How Often Should I Clean Solar Panels?

January 14, 2021

If you’re anything like me, the cleanliness of my solar panels is generally the furthest thought from my mind. But in reality, it’s worth giving your solar panels a thought every few months or so because even a thin layer of residue can make a big difference to their performance. 

Solar panels can get quite dirty, which is logical when you think about it. They are exposed to many external influences that can make dirty the panel, including dust, grime and salt kicked up from nearby roads, bird or bat droppings, and minerals (the main culprits in watermarks) left behind by evaporated rain and snow.

It may seem obvious, but a photovoltaic (PV) system works best if it has completely unobstructed access to the sun’s rays for most or all of the day. Even something as seemingly inconsequential as waterspouts left from rain or snow can have a big impact on the performance of your panels, while bigger spots, obstructions or (heaven forbid) damage can have a much greater effect that may be entirely disproportionate to their size.

Another hazard to a solar panel’s performance may seem surprising. The structure of a house, with its felt or shale roof shingles and tough outer sidings, is built to withstand the most common natural forces, including hail, wind and the resultant flying detritus (tree branches, twigs, and other assorted assaults). But solar panels are fairly delicate creatures, their dark petals designed to spend their life passively sunbathing, soaking up the sun’s rays and internally converting them into energy for you to use. 

Enter the dark forces of nature, and a solar panel’s surface can without too much effort be cracked, chipped or otherwise broken. This situation can go entirely unknown by you for months, until you realize there is a problem with your energy production and usage. 

Of course, nobody really wants to spend their days fretting about solar panels. Part of the purpose of their existence is to eliminate stress from the planet-wide impact of burning fossil fuels – so who wants to replace that stress with worry about their solar panels getting an owie? The easiest way to avoid that stress is to schedule a solar panel checkup at least every six months. You can use your trusty phone’s calendar app to remind you and then clamber onto the roof to do a manual inspection. Or better yet, you can leave it to the professionals at BCS Cleaning Utah to keep track of when your solar panels need a checkup and then take care of any cleaning and repairs that need doing at the same time, all without falling off the roof (we all have Masters degrees in gymnastics and the high-wire).

Give BCS a call today at 801 561 1730 to schedule your solar panels’ regular maintenance checkup. We’ll have you saving the planet again at your full potential in no time!

Do Clean Solar Panels Make A Difference?

January 7, 2021

At BCS Cleaning Utah, we feel like cleaning anything is always a job worth doing, but cleaning your solar panels is particularly worth considering. After all, solar panels are specifically DESIGNED to spend their entire lives outside under the elements, contending constantly with beating sun, driving rain, aggressive hail, salt-laden snow and the rest. So does cleaning solar panels actually make any difference to their performance and durability?

The short answer is yes, it really does. And for some reasons that will make total sense as we explain.

Solar panels can get very dirty, which is no surprise when you think about their level of exposure and what they are exposed to  – dust, grime and salt kicked up from nearby roads, bird or bat droppings, minerals (the main culprits in watermarks) left behind by evaporated rain and snow, and ice, rain and snow themselves

It may seem obvious, but a photovoltaic (PV) solar panel system works best if it has completely unobstructed access to the sun’s rays for most or all of the day. Even something as seemingly inconsequential as waterspots left from rain or snow can have a big impact on the performance of your panels, while bigger spots, obstructions or (heaven forbid) damage can have a much greater effect that may be entirely disproportionate to their size.

Worse than simply being dirty and obscured, if a solar panel actually becomes damaged – either dinged, cracked or worse yet, shattered, by falling or blowing debris, it’s not just its immediate performance that can be impacted: it may need repair or even total panel replacement. 

All these issues are fairly easily avoidable with a regular inspection and maintenance schedule. At BCS Cleaning Utah, we have been clambering over roofs and inspecting solar panels with magnifying glasses and cleaning equipment for the better part of the last decade.

BCS will take care of, not just the inspections and maintenance themselves, but also the schedule for when these are needed – we will let you know with reminders before coming out to care for your solar panels. This takes all the stress, uncertainty and hassle out of their maintenance for you, and makes sure your solar panels constantly operate at tip-top capacity. 

If you want the hassle of solar panel maintenance and inspection taken care of for you, give the professionals at BCS a call today at 801 561 1730 to schedule your FREE solar panel inspection.

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