Clean those solar panels

Clean those solar panels and vacuum tubes; crud affects their performance significantly.

During the rainy season solar panels and the vacuum tubes used for heating water are cleaned regularly by Mother Nature. But during our dry winter they become very grubby, hindering the sun’s light and infrared-radiation just when we need them to work optimally.

No one ever said being a greenie was easy; it’s not. Whether you are sorting the trash, building a compost heap or clambering on the roof to wash those solar panels it is hard physical work.

Clean those solar vacuum tubes.

In Australia I believe one is not allowed to climb on your own roof without a certificate of competency. That’s absurd in my book, but there is some reason behind it. I know of several people who have been seriously injured and two who were killed; it is dangerous. The ladder must either be held by someone, or firmly secured to a rafter.

If you are using an extension ladder, make it protrude a metre beyond the level of the roof so you have something to hold onto. Mindfulness is everything.

Safe extension ladder extended at least one metre above the gutters.

For the solar panels a mop of sorts is most useful, firstly with a bucket of soapy water and then sponge down with clean. Use the residue from the washing machine; waste not, want not. Some scrubbing will be necessary where the hadedas have left their contemptuous download on our feeble attempts to save money and the environment.

For the solar tubes it’s best on hands and knees with an old cloth; again soapy and clean water. It is not difficult but tiresome.

And then if you are harvesting rainwater the gutters need to be cleaned to remove all the autumn leaves and general crud. A two-litre milk jug cut in half helps, and then rinse them out with a hose; it’s not wasted, ending up in the sump from which it can used in the garden. Then you have a quality that makes it potable.

A few hours spent three times a year in order have free electricity and ample clean water is surely not too much to ask. Stage 6 load-shedding and Day Zeroes pass right by, hardly being noticed by those with a solar farm on their roofs and an underground reservoir to harvest and store the rain. But they do need to be cleaned and serviced just like everything else.  

At least every second year, just before the spring rains begin, the reservoir must be drained and thoroughly cleaned. That is a big job but as we anxiously watch Day Zero now approaching in Gqe-be-rha we know that our turn may be just around the corner. The once City of Choice does not rank well in the Blue Drop report.

We go to all this trouble, making ourselves resilient in the face of these impending crises, not only for own sanity but also, more importantly, to preserve Mother Earth for our children and their offspring. You must clean those solar panels and vacuum tubes though.

Clean those solar panels

Clean those solar panels during the dry and dusty seasons; the vacuum tubes used for heating water too.

Where is our water is an oft heard cry in South Africa. Those who harvest the rain and capture the sunshine need not suffer these indignities. Isn't it time for you too to be sitting pretty?

Build an underground reservoir for water storage; it's a lot simpler and cheaper than you think.

  1. Go off the grid witih solar


Our newsletter is entitled "create a cyan zone" at your home, preserving both yourself, the family and friends, and Mother Earth for future generations. We promise not to spam you with daily emails promoting various products. You may get an occasional nudge to buy one of my books!

Here are the back issues.

  • Refined maize meal and stunting
  • Should agriculture and industry get priority for water and electricity?
  • Nature is calling
  • Mill your own flour
  • Bake your own sourdough bread
  • Microplastics from our water
  • Alternative types of water storage
  • Wear your clothes out
  • Comfort foods
  • Create a bee-friendly environment
  • Go to bed slightly hungry
  • Keep bees
  • Blue zone folk are religious
  • Reduce plastic waste
  • Family is important
  • What can go in compost?
  • Grow broad beans for longevity
  • Harvest and store sunshine
  • Blue zone exercise
  • Harvest and store your rainwater
  • Create a cyan zone at your home

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56 Groenekloof Rd,

Hilton, KZN

South Africa