Calima ‘red rain’ affecting solar panels and pools

A huge Saharan dust storm swept across parts of Spain last month. At the end of March 2022, residents in the south of Spain, woke up to eerie, stormy skies with an intense orange hue and ‘red rain’ – caused by tiny particles of dust in the air that had travelled thousands of miles across the Mediterranean Sea.

Now the rain has dried, we still see houses and apartment blocks everywhere covered in this orange dust and it is not easy to remove. However, if you own solar panels, it is very important to keep them free from this type of dirt – sand and dust build-up is an issue for solar panels. If this dust is not cleaned, dust particles can adhere to the panels.

Dust – a common solar blocker

A little bit of normal dust might not have too much of an effect on energy production, because light can still get through – it is recommended that you let nature take its course, as fresh rain should remove a good portion of this dirt. However, when a dust storm hits, like the one we just experienced, your solar panels may need a little extra help.

How to clean solar panels

First and foremost we would recommend to seek professional help to clean your solar panels if it becomes too much of an hazard. Especially if the solar panels are on the roof.

For the people who is up for the task themselves, you should be able to find the need products at home. Because you don’t want to scratch your system in any way, it’s best to use just water and a non-abrasive sponge to apply soapy water. Use a mild detergent, if you feel like you need some extra help.

It might be tempting to use a pressure washer to clean the solar panels, when you may already be using them to clean the rest of your house. However, it is not recommended since it may cause damage.

If possible, the job is best done from the ground to ensure your safety.

Cleaning pools and facades

It is not unusual for the desert dust to descend on Andalucia. What is exceptional is that it happened in such large quantities. As a result, many people concluded with regret that they had to whiten their facades again. A few already did that after the first Calima. And saw their investment in paint evaporate in a matter of hours. Experts advice people to wait two to three months before investing in major cleaning or paintwork, since more dust rain is coming this summer.

How to remove Saharan dust from your swimming pool

  1. Turn off the pump. The Saharan dust is so dense it’s almost like clay, and it will clog up your filter. Some of it will even pass straight through the filter and come straight back again without being cleaned.
  2. Add liquid flocculant. You’ll need about 1.2 litres for an 8 meter x 4 meter pool but it depends of the brand. Read the label, but the normal amount to put in is 10 ml for every cubic metre of water. However, you may need a little extra for this heavy-duty cleaning.
  3. Set a selector valve to ‘Recirculation’ and turn the pump back on for around two hours.
  4. Turn the pump off again after two hours.
  5. Wait for 8-36 hours for the flocculant to work until you see clumps of it on the bottom of the pool. Flocculant is like a glue that gathers all the small suspended particles together and sticks them into a ball, and as they get heavier, they sink to the bottom.
  6. When it’s clear enough to see the bottom, use a pool hoover to suck up all the balls, with the selector valve set to ‘Waste’, if you have a drain valve, now is the time to open it. This makes the sand bypass the filter and go into the drain outside.
  7. Do a backwash with the selector valve on ‘Backwash’ or ‘Lavado’ for about two minutes or until the water ruins clear in the small, clear plastic cylinder you can see on the selector valve.
  8. Stop the pump and turn the selector valve to ‘Rinse’. Run that for about 20 seconds.
  9. Stop the pump. Turn the selector valve to ‘Closed’ and open the top of the basket in the pump. Add a Jolly gel or similar jelly block of clarifier. This will help to mop up the last remaining pieces and have water looking really clean.
  10. Change the selector valve back to ‘Filter’ and the pump on manual for about 24-48 hours. Once it’s cleared up and looking back to normal, you can turn the pump back to automatic.

Are you interested in solar panels?

We at Energy Nordic can help you optimise your energy consumption and save even further with the benefits of solar power. So if you haven’t got any solar panels to clean as of yet, it might be interesting for you to click the button below, to get started.


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