Many years the prior, I was running a mobile car wash nationwide franchising operation. One of our franchisees found something else to wash besides cars. He was washing solar panels. Why you ask? It’s simple, because clean solar panels are more efficient, and you get more energy from them than when they aren’t dirty. In fact, you can improve 5 to 10% very quickly simply by cleaning them, sometimes much more. It may not make a big difference right away, but over many months it certainly is.
Solar panels accumulate bird droppings, dust particles, spider webs, leaves which are stuck on, petroleum distillates from pollution, and even water spots when the water mixes with whatever is already there. All of this prevents getting the best efficiency from the panels. Therefore, it pays to clean them to increase the efficiency, and since that efficiency can easily be increased with simple washing, there is money in that type of service.
There was an interesting piece in GizMag titled; “Israeli solar plant is now 100 percent self-cleaning,” by Stu Robarts posted on March 31, 2014 with an accompanying YouTube Video titled; “Ecoppia E4 Robot in action,” which talked about a system to clean solar panels. The YouTube video posted on February 18, 2014 stated;
“Cost effective and efficient, energy-independent E4 cleaning robots use a soft microfiber and air flow cleaning system to remove 99% of dust daily, applying zero load on the panel surface, keeping panels at optimal production 24/7/365.”
Pretty cool beans, only one problem, it isn’t cheap to buy. If someone installs a cleaning robot on top of the solar panels they obviously don’t need to have a mobile car wash operator come by and clean the solar cells for them.
However, the cost to put in such a system is not free either, and the return on investment takes a while, not to mention that occasionally those systems need to be re-lubed, recalibrated, and the brushes need to be cleaned as well. There is also cost in doing that. I bet if you looked at it really hard with a sharp pencil you might be able to figure out at a certain price a mobile washer could do those services cheaper.
If you own such a service business this might be another way to make money, perhaps on a rainy day. The solar panels are not collecting any energy on a rainy day, and you can’t wash cars anyway. This might be a good ancillary service and clean opportunity to make extra cash. Please consider all this and think on it.