Solar Panels: Handle With Care
Getting solar panels installed is an excellent way for homes and businesses alike to generate electricity without negatively impacting the environment. Solar panels are an integral part of any solar system. Without the proper functioning of the panels, the whole system will go astray. Great care has to be taken while transporting the panels to the site, during installation and after installation, to reap the real benefits out of one’s solar system.
Modern Solar modules are known for their brittle wafer-thin cells. These cells can be as thin as 170 micrometers which is between 2 to 3 times the thickness of standard A4 paper. To maximize the power potential of the solar system, the utmost care has to be taken at all stages of solar installation. Improper handling of the panels before or after installation can have a negative impact on the system and can even shorten its service life considerably.
Research has been done in this regard by Winaico, one of the solar panel manufacturers in Australia, offering a premium range of very high-quality panels with a reasonable price range. To understand the effect of improper handling of solar panels on their power efficiency, they conducted a series of tests, and based on it they developed a guide that explains the correlation between proper handling of panels and their efficiency.
CARRYING THE PANELS
Carrying the panels in the wrong ways can cause power loss. Incorrect module carrying is expected to reduce the power output instantaneously by 1%. Though not a huge loss, it can worsen over time. Care should be taken not to carry it with:
• Shoulder against the back sheet, it leads to a power loss of 2.8 Watt or .86%
• Shoulder against the glass, which has a power loss of 3.2 Watt or .97%.
The right way to carry them is to possibly distribute the load rather than focusing on a point. It is ideal to rest the module against the arm, shoulder, back and head, with no pressure on the back sheet.
LIFTING THE PANELS
Getting solar modules onto the roof will be one of the most strenuous tasks of installation. Solar panels are not easy to handle as each panel weighs around 18 to 20kgs. Panels are heavy and awkward to lift and carry.
When the modules are moving to high power classes, weight increases and this makes it all the more difficult to carry. Carrying it to the rooftop is a bit challenging, especially on windy days. Once installed properly it can withstand most of the climate variations without affecting its power output.
Some installers carry solar panels to the roof using just a ladder. But it is very risky when the weather condition is not favorable. A purpose-built lift is recommended while lifting it to the roof. There are different types of solar panel lifters. Some installers go the whole hog and have a truck with a crane. PV panel lift is an economical solution for the speedy and safe transport of photovoltaic and solar panels
The GEDA Solar Lift is the smart solution for lifting solar panels, racking, and tools up, onto, and across the rooftop. The solar platform is designed to carry up to 9 x 35mm panels or 8 x 40mm thick panels at one time at a speed of 25m/min or 30m/min. The rubber padding and solar clamping arm ensure that the panels are delivered securely and safely.
It simplifies the transport of fragile solar cells and photovoltaic systems. It makes the assembly faster and easier. It has a space-saving design. It can be easily dismantled into separate components, so it can be transported efficiently. It gives comprehensive warranties and product support.
STANDING ON THE PANELS
It is very essential to avoid any unnecessary force to the surface of the modules. Winaico has used an electroluminescence image to demonstrate the impact of a person standing on the panel. Some cells of the image with a person standing on the panels show distinct darkening. This colour change is suggestive of the development of micro cracks. The power loss is around 7watts or 2.2% on a fully functional module. This cracks would propagate further under the influence of humidity, thermal expansion and contraction and usual wear and tear and affect the module performance.
TRANSPORTING THE PANELS
Most of the solar panels travel a long way from the factory to one’s rooftop. If not shifted properly it can affect its efficiency. Special care has to be taken when transporting materials on top of exposed modules. Many current installations require less than a full pallet of modules, so there are chances that other materials will be transported on top of the panels. A common example is an inverter strapped on to the top of multiple panels.
Winaico simulated such a situation where unboxed panels are being carried by a forklift with another hefty component such as an inverter sitting on top. It is found that it can cause a power loss of 7.9 Watts or 2.44%. It is better to avoid any force on an open-air module during transport. Strapping on the top of a pallet is suitable, but pressure on the glass front or back sheet will cause irreparable damage during the transportation period.
CLEANING THE PANELS
The best time to clean your panels is when they’re dirty. Moderate to heavy rain does an excellent job of cleaning solar panels. Panels angled at 10 degrees or more will let rain flow down and wash and clean them. Most Australian roofs slope at 15 degrees or more, so they will get clean themselves during rain.
Microinverters or DC optimizers will allow one to track the performance of individual solar panels, so it is very easy to identify when they need cleaning. Never spray water on hot solar panels. It would cause it to crack or shatter. Washing panels early in the morning, when it is overcast, or any time when there is not a huge difference between the temperature of the panel and the water you are using will avoid this possibility. Water alone gets most grime off panels, but to remove residues of snow or bird poo it would be better to use a mild detergent.
Certain cleaning products can damage the solar panels and should therefore be avoided:
• Hard water can leave a white residue that diminishes photovoltaic output.
• Abrasive sponges may scratch the panels.
• Using very cold water on a warm panel can result in thermal shock and permanently damage the solar panel.
• Very high-pressure water can damage the joints in the panel frame.
• Solvents and detergents may damage the surface of the solar collectors.