The ecological crisis has reached a fever pitch in recent years. With rising global temperatures wreaking havoc on nature, there has been more demand for sustainable energy sources to reverse the damage. One of the most popular alternatives environmentalists propose is solar power.
Solar energy is the cleanest, most sustainable energy source currently available. It’s not only completely renewable, but everyone has access to it. What’s more, it’s just as efficient as any other traditional energy source without generating any harmful waste. All in all, environmentalists claim solar is practically a flawless energy source.
However, solar skeptics claim that solar isn’t all positive. For example, they believe that solar panels won’t work as efficiently if they get dirty. Is there truth to this claim? Do solar panels work if dirty? If you’re considering going solar, here is everything you need to know about solar panels, their capability, and their care.
What is Solar Energy?
Though everyone promotes solar energy, very few people can actually explain what it is and how it works. In simple terms, solar power is the radiation produced by the Sun. This radiation is converted into thermal or electrical energy through specialized structures called solar architecture.
The most common type of solar architecture is solar panels. These panels contain an outer layer comprised of photovoltaic cells, which absorb the Sun’s rays. The Sun’s UV radiation knocks electrons loose from their bonds, thus generating an electrical charge that moves in response to the internal electric field of the PV cells.
The end result is electricity you can use to power your home or generate heat during the wintertime. Currently, experts say solar energy is the cleanest and most renewable alternate energy source for several reasons.
For one, harvesting it won’t produce harmful waste. Fossil fuel mining is incredibly resource-intensive and produces a lot of toxic chemicals. Companies dump these chemicals into the air and important sources of water, which end up poisoning local wildlife and contributing to habitat destruction.
Secondly, it’s completely renewable. As many know, we have a limited reserve of fossil fuels. Therefore, at the rate we’re using them at the moment, experts predict we’ll run out of oil, gas, and coal in the next 50-100 years. In contrast, we can’t run out of sunlight. The Sun is the most abundant energy source; everyone has equal access to it. Therefore, it’s the ultimate energy source of the future, capable of sustaining a growing population.
Do Solar Panels Work If Dirty?
While it’s easy to concede that solar energy is greener than fossil fuels, solar detractors often point to another issue with this alternative energy source — its efficiency. Namely, they claim that solar panels stop working in bad weather or when they get dirty.
Both assumptions are a common misconception. The Sun never completely disappears, even when it’s overcast. Therefore, the panels can still generate electricity even when they’re not exposed to direct sunlight. The same applies to dirty panels. Though dirt, bird droppings, and tree sap will reduce the panels’ overall output, it won’t make them stop working altogether.
Nevertheless, you should do your best to keep the panels clean. Regularly removing a build-up of dirt from your panels will ensure they run at peak performance. However, when you’re caring for your panels, be sure to follow these cleaning tips:
- Avoid using abrasive materials — Harsh cleaning materials can easily damage the panel’s surface and thus affect its performance. Instead, opt for mild dish soap, soft brushes, and squeegees to dry the panels off.
- Don’t use pressurized hoses — Likewise, pressurized hoses can crack the panel’s silicone cover. If you’re using a hose, make sure to keep it in a low-pressure setting.
- Turn off the panels — Before you can clean them, it’s vital you shut down your panels to avoid getting electrocuted.
In light of the environmental crisis, solar energy is godsent. This alternative energy source is the perfect way to combat pollution and help reverse climate change. However, as green as solar panels are, people are still skeptical whether their panels will stop working if they get dirty.
While dirt, debris, and bird droppings won’t make the panels stop functioning altogether, they will reduce their overall performance. Thus, regularly cleaning your panels is a must if you want to keep generating electricity while saving the world!