Why Do You Need to Clean Your Solar Panels & How to Clean It

Maintaining solar panels is essential for optimal performance. Over time, dirt, dust, and bird droppings can accumulate on solar panels, potentially reducing their efficiency. In fact, dirty solar panels can lose up to 20% of their energy output. Regular cleaning, ideally twice a year, ensures they operate at peak efficiency.

The best time to clean solar panels is when the weather is cool and the sun isn’t too harsh. This prevents quick drying, which can leave streaks. Cleaning is relatively straightforward and doesn’t require specialized equipment.

A hose can be used to rinse off loose dirt. For more thorough cleaning, a soft, non-abrasive sponge or cloth with water is sufficient. Avoid using harsh chemicals or abrasive tools, as these can damage the panels.

For stubborn stains, like oily marks, a bit of isopropyl alcohol on a clean cloth can be effective. Alternatively, a mild cleaning solution can be made with dish soap and water or a mixture of one part vinegar to eight parts water. It’s important to be gentle during cleaning to avoid scratching the panels.

While rain can help keep solar panels clean, it’s not always enough, especially in areas with less frequent rainfall or where bird droppings and tree sap are common. In such cases, manual cleaning is more effective.

If you’re unable to clean the panels yourself, or if they’re difficult to reach, consider hiring a professional solar panel cleaning service. This ensures safe and effective cleaning, especially for panels installed in hard-to-reach places.

5 Simple Methods of Solar Panel Cleaning

Cleaning solar panels is a straightforward process, but it requires careful handling to avoid damage. The methods vary from simple rinsing to more thorough cleaning, depending on the level of dirt and debris accumulation.

1. Rinsing with Water

  • This is the simplest method, involving spraying the panels with a hose. It’s effective for removing loose surface dust and is best done in the early morning or late evening to avoid water spots.

2. Soapy Water Cleaning

  • For more stubborn grime, a bucket of soapy water and a soft sponge or cloth can be used. It’s crucial to use mild, non-abrasive soap to prevent scratching the panels.

3. Using a Soft Brush

  • For areas with heavier dirt accumulation, a soft brush with an extendable handle can be used. This method allows for gentle scrubbing without the need to climb onto the roof.

4. Automated Cleaning Systems

  • For large installations or difficult-to-reach panels, automated cleaning systems can be installed. These systems use robotic cleaners or sprinkler-like mechanisms to regularly clean the panels.

5. Professional Cleaning Services

  • In cases where DIY cleaning is not feasible or safe, professional cleaning services offer a solution. These services have the necessary equipment and expertise to clean panels effectively without causing damage.

Is Cleaning Solar Panels Worth It?

Determining the value of cleaning solar panels involves considering their efficiency and longevity. Panels covered in dirt, dust, or bird droppings can experience a significant drop in energy production, sometimes up to 20-25%.

This reduction directly impacts the return on investment of the solar system. Regular cleaning ensures that panels operate at their optimal capacity, thereby maximizing energy output and efficiency.

Moreover, the accumulation of dirt and debris can lead to hot spots, which can damage the solar cells over time. By keeping the panels clean, you not only enhance their performance but also extend their lifespan.

While the frequency and method of cleaning may vary based on location and environmental factors, the overall benefit of maintaining clean solar panels is clear. It ensures that the solar system provides a consistent and reliable source of energy, thereby safeguarding your investment.

How Often Should You Wash Your Solar Panels?

The frequency of washing solar panels is influenced by several factors, including location, climate, and the immediate environment. In general, it’s recommended to clean solar panels at least twice a year.

However, in areas with high dust, pollen, or bird activity, more frequent cleaning may be necessary.

Regular cleaning prevents the buildup of materials that can block sunlight and reduce efficiency. In regions with regular rainfall, natural cleaning might suffice for part of the year. However, during dry seasons or in arid climates, manual cleaning becomes more crucial.

Monitoring the power output of your panels can also guide cleaning schedules. A noticeable drop in efficiency often signals the need for a wash.

Read Also: Can Solar Panels Be Put On A Metal Roof? How?

Best Way to Clean Solar Panels on the Roof

Cleaning rooftop solar panels effectively requires a balance between thoroughness and safety. The most recommended method involves using a soft brush or non-abrasive sponge with soapy water. It’s essential to choose a mild, biodegradable soap to avoid leaving residues or harming the panels.

For safety and to prevent damage, avoid using high-pressure water jets or harsh cleaning chemicals. Also, cleaning should be done either in the early morning or late afternoon to avoid extreme temperature differences that could crack the panels.

For those unable to safely access their roof, or for large installations, hiring professional solar panel cleaners is a wise choice. They have the necessary equipment and expertise to clean the panels without causing damage.

Best Way to Clean Solar Panels on the Roof

The Role of Weather and Environment in Solar Panel Cleaning

The role of weather and the surrounding environment is crucial in determining the cleaning needs of solar panels. In areas with frequent rain, solar panels may require less frequent cleaning as rainwater can help wash away some of the surface dirt.

However, rain alone might not be sufficient in areas with heavy pollen, bird droppings, or industrial pollution.

Environmental factors like nearby trees, birds, and construction sites can increase the need for cleaning due to the higher likelihood of debris accumulation. In coastal areas, salt mist can also necessitate more frequent cleaning.

Understanding these environmental influences helps in creating an effective cleaning schedule, ensuring that the solar panels maintain their efficiency regardless of the local weather and environmental conditions.

Read Also: Can You Put Solar Panels on a Townhouse?- The Details