Installing solar panels is one of the greatest investments a homeowner can make. These devices are not only efficient at generating renewable and clean electricity from sunlight but also highly durable and built to withstand the elements. Rain, storm, snow — these panels will hold out and do their job. However, depending on your exact location and surroundings, things like dirt, grime, and foliage build-up has the potential to affect the efficiency of solar panels. That is why regular solar panel maintenance is pertinent. In light of that, we have compiled a comprehensive guide on how to clean solar panels.
A single Google search on how to clean solar panels will leave your mind more scrambled than eggs at breakfast. Is soap a safe substance to use or not? How often do solar panels need to be cleaned? Can I do it myself or should a professional be consulted? The list of questions goes on and on. The truth is, it all depends. Many factors influence the necessity and frequency of solar panel cleaning and care, such as:
- Environment/type of climate
- Type of debris buildup
- Positioning/installation of solar panels
Understanding these factors will help you to assess the state of your solar panels and decide on the best way to clean them.
How Often Do Solar Panels Need to Be Cleaned?
Naturally, if you’re located in an area that receives moderate to high amounts of rainfall, the rain will rinse away most dust build-up and maintain high-capacity solar energy production. Subsequently, the benefit of having tilted panels is that they will be cleaned more thoroughly by just rainfall, when compared to ground-mounted panels. Ground-mounted panels may need a clean every now and then, yet being on the ground, they’re easier to reach.
Meanwhile, high levels of dust, pollen, ash, smoke, bird droppings, and foliage may not be washed away by rainfall. In this case, and in the case you reside in an area with little to no rainfall, consider cleaning your solar panels more frequently. Most manufacturers will recommend that your solar panels be cleaned every six months to a year.
Is Soap a Safe Substance to Use or Not?
Harsh cleaning chemicals should be avoided at all costs, because they have the potential to damage the glass lining of solar panels. A safe alternative is to use mild dish soap combined with clean water, a hose, and a soft brush or squeegee with a long handle or attachment. The key to thoroughly cleaning solar panels is to rinsing off all soapy residue — otherwise, a residue shade will form. Additionally, avoid using a high pressure water system and abrasive sponges so you don’t scratch the panels.
Cleaning the Solar Panels Myself or Leaving It to the Professionals?
Safety should always be your first priority. Your roof needs to be low enough to the ground that you are able to hose off your panels from the ground. Anything too steep, high, or slippery is not safe and warrants a call to qualified professionals. They will be able to offer a full suite of cleaning services which will leave your panels spot free and gleaming.
Some Important Recommendations to Consider
- Always follow details of maintenance checks left by your installer. If in doubt, consult with your installation company for exact maintenance requirements and to avoid any mishaps.
- Avoid cleaning solar panels at the hottest part of the day. Not only is this a hazard to your health, but the extreme temperature variance may cause the glass on the solar panels to crack.
- Many cleaning chemicals are too harsh to use on solar panels. Avoid these!
- If you cannot clean panels from the safety of the ground, it’s best to hire a professional.
- Shut down the system before cleaning.
When considering how to clean your solar panels, sometimes acquiring the help of professional cleaners may be the safest and best option out there. Other times, especially for those living in the right place, a rinse off with the hose is all that’s needed for general upkeep. At the end of the day, the decision is entirely up to you.