Solar panels are at their most efficient when there are no obstructions between photovoltaic cells and the sunlight. In such perfect conditions, a solar system can be enough to power homes and even buildings. But what happens if there is debris or dirt in the air? How effective are dirty solar panels?
Here is everything you need to know about the effectiveness of your solar panels, including cleaning tips and other maintenance facts.
Does Dirt Influence the Effectiveness of Solar Panels?
The short answer to this question is: yes, it indeed does. Since solar panels can only create energy when sunlight reaches them, it comes as no surprise that dirt, debris, and air pollution can be detrimental to their efficiency. When you also consider the fact that panels can only absorb a fraction of the sun’s energy in perfect conditions, the situation becomes even more worrisome.
A recent study shows that dirt from the elements can reduce the effectiveness of solar panels by up to 35%. This dirt includes dust carried by winds, sand, and debris present in the rain, as well as all airborne pollutants we cannot see.
The study was conducted in India, and the researchers started it with a completely new solar system installed atop an average-sized house. In the beginning, the system worked flawlessly, making enough energy to power the home and all its appliances.
However, as time passed, the panels started getting dirty. Heavy rains and winds brought about all types of debris, and air pollution was at its usual high percentage. In just two months, the panels were producing 10% less power. After six, their efficiency was down by a whopping 35%.
When the researchers had the panels cleaned, the system was back to its original state. In other words, it was producing enough energy to supply the home. Thus, the study proved that dirt does influence the effectiveness of solar panels to a significant extent.
How Often Should You Clean Solar Panels?
The general consensus is that cleaning your panels at least twice a year is the best option. It is preferable to do it in spring and autumn, but you can choose any other time that suits you as well.
However, panels situated in certain areas might require more regular cleanups. If you live in an extremely dry area or near the woods, you will most likely have to clean your panels at least four times a year. Doing so will ensure no dust or bird droppings can decrease the solar system’s efficiency.
If you’re unsure about how many times you need to clean your panels, it is best to consult your solar provider. They will make the necessary calculations and come up with a cleaning plan suitable for your panels and budget.
How Do You Clean Solar Panels?
Although it’s possible for you to clean solar panels on your own, it is safer to let professionals handle it. That way, you won’t risk damaging the panels or, even worse, injuring yourself in the process.
Hiring a reputable solar company will ensure your panels are only treated with equipment and materials of the highest quality. That will, in turn, guarantee your system will work for years and produce more than enough energy for your needs. Also, having professionals clean your panels will also protect the warranty, which is not the case if you damage the panels due to cleaning them yourself.
To Sum Up
Research shows that air pollutants and debris from the elements can decrease the effectiveness of solar panels by up to 35%. To avoid such significant energy losses, you should make sure to have your panels cleaned at least twice a year.
Though cleaning solar panels might seem easy, it is best to let a professional solar provider handle it. Doing so will be enough to keep the panels spotless without causing them any damage.