Maintaining Your Solar Gate Operator During Rainy Season
A common concern among consumers during Florida’s rainy months is whether or not their solar operated gates will perform properly during cloudy, rainy weather. This is a legitimate concern among those who have such devices. Not surprisingly, solar panels generate the most electricity when abundant sunshine is available, and although they can still perform during cloudy, rainy months, they do not work as well .
Maintaining Solar Electric Gate Systems
On rainy days, most solar panels only produce up to 25% of their capacity as they do on days where the sun is brightly shining. Depending on the type of solar cells the unit features, some panels are better than others at capturing a broader range of the solar spectrum and are better at receiving diffuse light. Similarly, some are better than others at capturing more blue and red wavelengths, which allows their panels to generate more electricity, despite the fact that it may be cloudy and rainy outside.
Nevertheless, regardless of the type of pane
l one owns, rainy, damp weather constricts the output of batteries, which directly affects the performance of solar powered gates. For this reason, gathering every tip possible concerning solar gate operator maintenance is a wise course of action for anyone who has such a gate.
Simple Maintenance Tips
Although it may seem obvious, cleaning is an essential factor in the proper maintenance of solar panels. It is possible for dirt and dust to form a film on the panels that even rain will not entirely wash away. The dirtier the area in which the solar panels are placed, the more frequently they need to be cleaned in order to avoid such buildup. It is not difficult to understand that efficient absorption by the panels when the sun is out, leads to more stored energy for rainy days. Therefore, if dirt and debris remain in place, the battery will not charge as well as it could, thus further lowering its efficiency when sunless days occur.
Inspecting the panels frequently is recommended by virtually all experts. This is the best way to ensure that leaves, debris, dirt and bird droppings are not blocking the sun when the weather is clear.
There are several ways one can clean such panels. One of the easiest is to simply rinse the dust away with a standard garden hose, provided the pressure is heavy enough to remove any film that may have covered the surface. If deeper cleaning is needed, a spongy, soft squeegee on a long handle–similar to those used for tall windows–can be used to clean the surface of the panels with soapy water. A hose can then be used once again to rinse off soap residue.
If the panels are placed in an area that is difficult to reach without climbing a ladder, homeowners should consider having the panels cleaned by a professional company that has the appropriate tools and equipment to clean hard-to-reach areas.
Preventing Battery Discharge
The majority of gate openers run off 12VDC gate batteries, but as previously mentioned, rainy, damp weather constricts their output, which can affect the way the gate operates.
Battery warmers are often used on gate operators, but those who are running a solar operated gate do not have the luxury of this option, as keeping the heater active is a major drain on the battery’s power, and therefore defeats the purpose. This leaves the best option is to insulate the battery. This will help prevent heat from escaping, and subsequently slow the rate at which the battery loses power. In addition, insulation helps capture heat thrown off when the battery is charging.
The majority of residential gate opener systems use panels that have anywhere from five to 30 watts. Some models have a built-in charging diode that prevents battery discharge at night or during cloudy weather. If the system has this type of built-in charging diode, the battery will last longer, even during inclement weather when no sunshine is present.
However, if the panels are greater than 10 watts, a charging panel is required, and a built-in charging diode is not an option. Fortunately, a blocking diode wired-in series can be obtained for the charging panel to stop battery discharge at times when no sunlight is available, such as during Florida’s rainy season. It is important to have a thorough understanding of how this type of system works, making it a good topic for discussion with a professional solar gate installer.
Further tips on maintaining solar electric gate systems can be obtained from reputable companies such as Witt Fence Company. Witt Fence is Tampa’s top-rated fencing company and has a staff of professionals who can not only install solar operated gates, but can also offer important solar gate operator maintenance tips to consumers. The company prides itself on offering exemplary customer service and state-of-the-art products to add beauty and value to essentially any home.
Anyone who has concerns about their solar operated gate or needs repairs for such a system should contact Witt Fence Company at www.wittfence.com for further information.