T

here is no consensus on whether cleaning solar panels is necessary. Some people consider it pointless, as the dirt is rinsed away from a panel by occasional rain. Others are convinced that a scheduled solar panel clean is absolutely essential.  

Is cleaning solar panels necessary?

There are no rights and wrongs in this debate. In most cases, cleaning solar panels isn’t a must, as they can function without a manual clean. And yet sometimes a panel clean makes sense, as some dirt such as wet leaves or bird droppings may not be easily washed off by raindrops.

When is it time for a solar panel clean?

First of all, you should periodically check on them: if you observe bird droppings or a dense layer of dust on the surface, it is definitely a time for a good panel clean. A continuous decrease in production, although it may indicate other problems as well, can mean that your solar panels have to be cleaned. Use your monitoring systems to track how your output changes. If you notice your PS system starts underperforming, maybe it’s time to give it an intensive clean.

Why does my solar installation get dirty?

Bird droppings are usually the biggest concern. When accumulated, they can block a considerable amount of sunlight and cannot be easily removed by rain. Another problem is pollen: it turns into a sticky substance over time that can’t be dissolved in the water.

Deciduous trees can be an issue as well. Fallen wet leaves can firmly stick to a panel, making it difficult to collect sunlight. And finally, cleaning solar panels might be needed due to an excessive amount of dirt and dust. Although this can be normally handled by rain, in some dusty areas such as farmlands or high roads manual washing may be needed to ensure a thorough solar panel clean.

Does cleaning solar panels improve their energy production?

Debris, wet leaves, and pollen can cause solar panels to underperform. These obstructions can potentially reduce energy production by 15-25%. That’s why solar panel clean is a great way to make your solar installation perform at full capacity.

How often should I do a solar panel clean?

Cleaning solar panels once or twice a year is enough in most cases. But much depends on the weather conditions in your area. For example, desert areas of the Southwestern U.S. require a more frequent panel clean because of high levels of dust. The same applies to households located in polluted areas such as near highways or industrial facilities.

It's better to schedule your solar panel clean for spring or fall to avoid scorching summer heat or freezing winter temperatures. However, sometimes you may need to brush off snow in winter. Although it usually slides off the roof on its own, sometimes it’s better to remove it with a solar panel snow rake.

What products should I use for cleaning solar panels?

The most important rule you should follow when cleaning a solar panel is not to scratch its surface in any way and avoid using abrasive materials or sponges. This can damage the panel and negatively impact its energy production. You don't want to use any harsh detergents or chemicals as well.

Basically, the process of cleaning solar panels is similar to washing a car. You’ll need only a hose, a bucket filled with warm water, mild soap, a sponge, and a squeegee.

How to clean solar panels? 6 steps for an effective panel clean

Let’s see how to clean solar panels. Here are 6 steps of the basic panel clean:

1. Shut down your solar power system for safety

2. Rinse the panel with a hose

3. Mix the soap with water in the bucket

4. Dip the sponge in the bucket and clean the surface of your panel  

5. Use a hose to remove the remaining dirt and soapy water

6. After cleaning let the panels dry in the sun

You should also keep in mind that solar panels heat up in the middle of the day, so the best time for a panel clean is at dawn or dusk. Or you can wait for overcast days when the surface cools down.

As you can see, cleaning solar panels is rather simple. You just have to do everything carefully and remember about safety.

Cleaning solar panels with the help of professional services

If you aren’t exactly happy about the idea of cleaning solar panels, specialized cleaning services can carry out a panel clean for you. Some solar panel providers even offer service plans which include regular maintenance and cleaning. Solar panel costs for homes vary based on size and quality, ranging from $10,000 to $30,000 before incentives.

Professional panel clean won’t necessarily be more effective. However, if your roof is high or steep, or if you don’t have a suitable ladder or cleaning tools, it is better to use the services of cleaning companies. Their staff is provided with all necessary supplies and knows how to carry out a solar panel clean in the fastest and safest way possible.

For ground-mounted systems, cleaning services may not be worth the money, as in this case cleaning solar panels is much safer and simpler.

Wrap-up: Timely solar panel clean is an easy way to maximize efficiency

Although some panel owners don’t like the idea of cleaning solar panels, it can sometimes be essential to increase energy efficiency. Depending on your pollution levels and weather conditions you should decide how frequently your solar panels should be washed.

Clean the panels carefully, and avoid harsh sponges or detergents not to scratch their surface. Simple tools are normally enough for a good panel clean. If you don’t have the necessary cleaning tools or assume that the process may be too dangerous, let professionals do the job.

A proper panel clean will keep it performing at its best. Take care of your solar power system to make it last longer and provide you with a reliable source of energy for years.

Posted 
Jul 12, 2023
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