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Swift and Easy Cleaning of Solar Panels with Color Sensors Locating Dirt Precisely

published: 2022-12-28 9:30

There are hundreds of solar panel decontamination technology, and now South African scientists have released a pristine and efficient solution, which utilizes color sensors that notify when to clean solar panels, and would do so in a swift and precise manner.

Solar panels, upon installation, require maintenance and cleaning, since dust, fallen leaves, and bird droppings would cover up solar panels and drastically lower the efficiency of power generation. However, a solar power plant must be of a certain scale, and it takes a lot of time and money for manual cleaning.

University of Johannesburg has thus developed a solar panel cleaning system that is relatively fast and simple in locating dirt and disposal, and the particular system detects dirt through color sensors that can remove 95% of dust on solar panels within a minute at a much lower cost than other cleaning systems.


The new solar module cleaning system is based on the TCS3200 color sensor and the Arduino Uno open source microcontroller, where the white LED inside TCS3200 can detect the color of incoming light and generate output of square wave with a 50% illuminate module surface and conduct color detection, and is exceedingly low in cost in comparison with other scientific instruments. Microcontroller is the key of the entire system, which consists of a 46V motor driver, two 12V DC motors, one charging controller, one battery, one stabilizer, one roller brush that cleans panels.

The system is able to detect dirt on solar panels by comparing the detection result and reference results of color detection and calibration. As pointed out by the team, the system would begin cleaning solar panels when the controller detects that there is a humidity level of 80%, where one DC motor is used to maneuver the color sensor and inspect the location of dirt, while another motor is used to actuate the cleaning machine.

The research team estimates the annual decontamination cost of each solar panels to be US$2.37, where capital and maintenance occupy the most part of the cost, though the team claims that the equipment can remove 95% of dust from the surface of solar panel within a minute, as well as avoid many shortcomings from solar panel decontamination in the past, such as excessive amount of water and manual cleaning.

 (Cover photo source: shutterstock)


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