Spring Time and Spring Cleaning

For about a month, now, yellow pine pollen has been raining down on us in NW Florida.  Between the pollen and dirt road clay, my green Chevy pickemup was getting a little crusty.  I had to take a pressure washer to it.  Now I just need to wash it.  My Turbobeast is pretty crusty, too, but I am counting on the rattly diesel engine to shake off the crust.  It isn’t working.  Canon cameras have a function to shake the dust off the image sensor and one of the electric pickups has a function to shake off snow.  So, why can’t we come up with a way to shake off the pollen from our cars?  Better yet, how about shaking off the pollen on my solar panels?

Yep, it is time for spring cleaning on the solar panels.  Right now we are not running the HVAC very much, so we still have plenty of power.  As soon as my nose tells me the pollen count is down, I guess I will have to scrub my ground mount panels.  On the roof of the Solar Shed, maybe not.  I am doubling the size of the Solar Shed, so I MIGHT do something when I am up there anyway, but don’t hold your breath.

I don’t know if the pressure washer is good or bad.  It DOES knock off that hardened paste that forms when pollen and dew combine, but some panels have coatings that might be damaged.  Solvents are definitely out.  Good old car wash soap and a long handled scrubber-squeegee are probably the best bet.

This is not just an issue at home.  The solar trade journals feature robotic contraptions to keep their acres of panels clean.  For our five or ten KW, the scrubber is probably the best deal… better than a big power bill.

Another chore, I think it is about time to water my lead-acid batteries.  I am working on a bridging scheme, as my batteries grow tired.  Lithium Iron Phosphate batteries appear to be the future for home or marine solar.  Prices are dropping, but to just decide one day you are going to swap out the whole pile at once could be a financial shock.  I already have two banks of lead batteries down.  If I can come up with a way to make the lead and the lithium get along during the transition that will really help ease the financial burden.  I think I have it figured out.  I may replace one of my lithium banks aboard Sun King with lead acid for a test, but I would love to do it for the house with the a/c season approaching.  Once a full changeover is accomplished, by all accounts, the new batteries should outlast me.

Roberto is up to something with battery suppliers, so maybe we will have some good news from him.  In the meantime, beware of cheap, counterfeit batteries on ebay and Amazon.  Next time, I will talk about some of the things you need to consider with lithium.  They can be tricky little rascals.–Neal

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