The interest in green energy has been on the rise in recent years, and solar panels are on the top of that list because they are the most accessible to the public. They are easily mounted to the roof of your home and are relatively low maintenance. However, they do need to be cleaned every so often to ensure that they keep working efficiently.
To clean your solar panels, disconnect them first from the power grid to ensure your own and your panels’ safety. Then brush them off, spray them with some water, and use a cloth to wipe away any dirt on their surface. Lastly, rinse them again, let them dry and reconnect them to your power grid.
In this article, we’ll go over a few topics related to this subject, such as discussing why solar panels need to be cleaned, when and how often they should be cleaned, and how you’ll be able to clean them most effectively. Let’s get right into it!
Summary of the Article
Why Do You Need to Clean Your Solar Panels?
Though solar panels are generally seen as self-cleaning, as they get a good rinse any time it rains, there are still times when rainfall just doesn’t do a good enough job of keeping them properly cleaned. Let’s go over a quick list of reasons you may need to clean your solar panels in addition to their rainfall rinses.
Let’s start with the most obvious reason; dirty solar panels don’t work as effectively as clean solar panels do. Over time, the dust and dirt accumulate on your solar panels and will decrease the amount of sunlight they receive, and thus they will not generate as much energy. Dust, pollen, bird droppings, leaves, sea salt sediment, and other forms of dirt can cover your solar panels and impact their performance.
Dirty solar panels could generate up to 20% less power a year than they would if they were clean.
Environmental residues that come from living in an area where there is often construction work happening, a lot of traffic passing by, farming practices nearby, in a climate that is often dusty and dry, or living close to the sea can all impact the efficiency of your solar panels, and cleaning them will help reduce this impact.
Another factor that can determine whether or not you’ll need to clean your solar panels is how much they are tilted. Solar panels that are mounted to the side of your roof are tilted to the same angle that your roof is, but if they are on top of a flat roof, they may not be tilted enough for rainwater to run off and clean them completely, meaning that you’ll need to clean them yourself to keep them working well.
Cleaning your solar panels regularly will not only keep them performing at their absolute best, but it will also lengthen their lifespan, meaning you won’t have to replace them as quickly, which will ultimately also save you money.
How Often Should You Clean Your Solar Panels?
How often you’ll need to clean your solar panels will depend on where you live, but a rough guideline is to clean your entire solar system once every six months.
Naturally, if you live somewhere where the climate is harsher (dry and dusty regions, polluted areas, or near the sea), you’ll need to clean them more often. Then, of course, if you live in an area where there is frequent rainfall, you won’t need to clean your solar panels as often, as the rain will do most of the heavy lifting for you.
You should try not to clean your solar panels more often than every 3 or 4 months unless it is absolutely necessary.
When Should You Clean Your Solar Panels?
In addition to knowing how often you should clean your solar panels, it is also good to know when is the best time to clean them.
If you are working on the six-month cleaning schedule, it is best to do your cleaning in the early spring (since there is often more air pollution in winter, that can leave a residue on your solar panels) and late autumn/fall (when most of the leaves have fallen off of trees in your surrounding area).
It is also recommended to clean your solar panels at the beginning or the end of the day when it isn’t as hot so that the water on your panels don’t dry too quickly and leave dirt behind or damage the glass layer protecting the inner workings of your panels.
How to Clean Your Solar Panels: A Step-by-Step
Now that you understand the reason when and why you should clean your solar panels, and also how often you should, let’s go over how to clean them step by step.
Experts recommend that you should always try to clean your panels from the ground instead of going up onto your roof unless you have the proper safety equipment (harness, ladder, etc.) to do so.
- First, you should switch your solar system off completely. Make sure to follow the instructions in the manual of the inverter you have installed.
- Then brush off as much dust and/or loose debris from the panels as is possible before wetting them. This will make the cleaning process much easier and much quicker.
- Wet the solar panels by spraying them with your garden hose. This should be enough to clean them if they aren’t very dirty.
- Use a soft cloth (like these Buff Pro Multi-Surface Microfiber Cleaning Cloths) or a windshield cleaner (like this MULING Window Squeegee Cleaning Tool) and some warm water to get rid of any remaining or stubborn dirt that may still be stuck to your solar panels.
- Then spray the panels again with some water to give them a final rinse and let them air-dry.
- Turn your solar system back on at the inverter once the panels have completely dried.
Things You Should Not Do
- Don’t use soaps, detergents, or powders when cleaning your panels as it may leave a film layer on their surface and will have an impact on how well they work.
- Don’t get onto your roof to clean your solar panels unless it is necessary and unavoidable as this could be potentially dangerous for you.
- Don’t try to clean your solar panels yourself unless you’re comfortable with the process. It is better to call a solar panel cleaning company to do the job for you, although they will often charge you an exorbitant fee for this service.
- Don’t wash the panels when they are hot as a sudden temperature change can crack the glass that protects them.
- Try not to get any water on the backs of the panels or in the gaps between adjacent panels or the panels and the roof as this is where their wiring is and may cause it damage.
- Don’t use a pressure cleaner to clean your solar panels as the extreme pressure of the water could do more harm to your solar panels than good.
If you want to watch a video on how to clean your solar panels, you can watch this one:
Now that you know when, why, how often, and how to clean your solar panels, all that’s left is for you to go out and do it. Always make sure to check your local regulations surrounding solar system maintenance, and also always take the necessary safety precautions to keep yourself safe and your solar panels working properly.