Do solar panels require regular cleaning or maintenance? This is a commonly asked question. And luckily, the answer is no. Nature does most of the work for you by keeping your solar panels clean and free of debris with just a little rain. However, a little maintenance and cleaning once or twice a year can help improve the production capacity of your solar systems. This article will discuss all solar panels cleaning in detail.
How to clean solar panels
- The first and most important thing to do is check with your solar cell manufacturing company. They will provide you with detailed information on how to clean solar panels.
- Solar panels can become extremely hot in the sunshine. Choose a relatively cold day to clean your solar panels, or clean them in the morning or afternoon.
- Initially, try using a hosepipe to see if it works nicely. But if there is a lot of dirt and dust on your solar panel system, you must thoroughly clean it.
- Fill a spray bottle or bucket with detergent and warm water– no other special tools are needed.
- Use a brush or soft cloth to clean the surface of the solar panel. Also, you don’t need to clean power cables and wiring underneath.
- Proceed with caution if solar panel cleaning requires you to climb onto the house’s roof. Hire a professional panel cleaner if you’re unsure how to clean solar panels safely.
Basic steps to cleaning solar panels
1) Turn off your solar system entirely
You must disconnect all the plug connections of your system before cleaning as per the instructions outlined in your operating manual or user manual provided by your solar company. Also, don’t forget to turn off your AC and DC power systems from the utility grid switchboards.
2) Choose a cold, mild time of day
It’s always best to clean your solar panels in the cold, mild time of the day. That’s because the combination of cold water and hot glass on your solar panel can increase the chances of cracks that may result from sudden temperature changes. Furthermore, cleaning panels in direct sunlight causes water to evaporate quickly, leaving dirty marks and undoing all of your hard work.
3) Clean your panel from the ground
Try cleaning your panels from the ground for safety purposes. Spray water onto the panel’s surface with the help of a hose. Also, use a hose fitted with a suitable nozzle to allow the water to reach the top of the panel.
4) Make sure to spray water onto the surface of your solar panels
It’s ok if some water sweeps into the back of your solar panel system. Nevertheless, it would be best if you did not intentionally direct the water hose at the back of your system or the space between your panel and roof.
5) Use a soft cloth and mild soap to remove stubborn grime
You don’t need to buy expensive cleaning products; just water and a mild detergent will do the job. A good quality scrubbing brush with a cloth-covered sponge on one side and a plastic blade on the other, along with a long extension, can be the ideal tool – and keep you safely on the ground.
6) Don’t climb onto the roof unless you have the necessary safety equipment
Working on your roof becomes more dangerous when you use water. Take appropriate safety equipment and training before cleaning solar panels. It would be best if you washed the solar panels from the ground, and if it’s not possible, you should consider hiring a professional solar cleaner for safety purposes.
Why do I need to clean my solar panels?
We know that dirt, dust, bird droppings, pollen, and other debris can reduce the efficiency of the photovoltaic system.
Google carried out a remarkable experiment at its 1.6 Mega-Watt solar projects in Mountain View, California. According to their research, cleaning the solar cells is the number one strategy to maximize the production capacity of your solar panels. They also discovered that regularly washed solar panels generate 5% more electricity than those left uncleaned.
Google concluded that relying solely on rain to clean solar cells is ineffective for increasing the energy output of your system.
Will failing to clean my solar panels cost me money?
It is important to note that solar cells can lose 15 to 25 percent of their efficiency if not maintained regularly.
This means they will generate 15 to 25 percent less electricity, which you will need to source from the power company at their specified rates. This quickly adds a few extra years to the payback period.
How often should solar panels be cleaned?
The extent to which you clean your solar panels will depend on several factors, such as the type of dirt, debris, and substance build-up on your panel and the location of your solar system.
For example, if you live in a semi-arid environment where a lot of dust accumulates on the panels, in which case, giving a thorough 2-3 cleanings per year will be beneficial. Consider another example, suppose you live near wooded areas, and your panel sees bird droppings. In this case, you need to wash your solar panel regularly.
It’s an excellent idea to arrange for cleaning at least every six months and possibly more frequently if you believe solar cells are constantly getting dirty.
When do I need to hire a professional?
You can hire a professional to clean your solar panels like you would hire someone to wash your car or clean your house.
If you have a roof-mounted system, you should consider hiring a solar cleaning professional. Apart from the convenience of not having to climb up onto the top of the roof yourself, professionals are well-equipped for rooftop safety. When hiring a licensed cleaner, make sure that they are certified and bonded. The service fee for ground units may not be worth it because you can safely clean your panels with hose water and liquid soap.
Cleaning solar cells yourself vs. leasing a professional
While cleaning panels yourself may appear to be a big plus, in most situations, it’s a risk not only to your solar system and the panels’ warranties but also to your safety. Remember that no amount of power savings is worth that. You are also unintentionally causing damage to your system that far outweighs any benefits you might gain from cleaning the dirt off.
Cleaning solar panels is worthwhile.
Cleaning solar cells are similar to cleaning a window and takes very little time. So if you prefer you do it yourself, you will notice a significant improvement in the efficiency of your system and big cash savings on your utility bills.
On the other hand, hiring a professional solar cleaner may be the best option if you don’t want to clean the panels yourself and are willing to pay extra for cleaning services.
What’s the best method to clean my solar cells?
- Window cleaner or a 3 percent soap and water solution
- Squeegee or soft-bristle brush (like those used on RVs and tuck RVs)
- 30 minutes to 2.5 hours (dependent on the system size and accessibility)
- Mostly 1–2 times per year (dependent on weather conditions)
Cost of hiring professionals:
- The national average for hiring professionals is around $133.
See the “basic step to cleaning a panel,” as mentioned at the start of the article, to complete your solar panel cleaning process.
Thank you for taking the time to read our guide to cleaning your solar panels. We wanted to assist you in cleaning your solar panels and help you decide when your system needs maintenance. Solar panels are durable and may not require as much servicing as you think. And be sure to visit FreeSolarPowerQuotes regularly for the latest solar energy system updates.
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