It goes without saying that solar panels require direct sun exposure in order to function properly. In fact, solar panels produce energy based on the amount of sunlight that reaches them. However, over time, your panels can accumulate debris such as dirt, dust, and pollen, which can reduce their efficiency.
If your own solar panels are covered by debris, you most likely want to get up there and clean them. But before you do that, ask yourself — what products should I use to clean my solar panels without damaging them? Read on to find out!
When Do I Need to Clean My Solar Panels?
As a rule of thumb, you should clean your solar panels whenever they start to accumulate considerable amounts of dust that reduce their effectiveness. To check that, you can do a monthly inspection and see if you notice any significant dust buildup. You should also watch your electric bill or solar system monitoring app for any drop in energy production. If you notice anything out of the ordinary, then it’s time for a cleanup.
What Products Should I Use?
When cleaning solar panels, you need to remember that scratching or damaging the glass can drastically reduce the panel’s efficiency. Therefore, you should approach panel cleaning the same way you clean a car.
You can use dish soap mixed with a bit of warm water on a soft cloth or sponge to safely remove most debris. It can also be helpful to use a squeegee to get rid of leftover dirty water.
Sometimes, you’ll notice that oily stains appear on your solar panels, especially if you live near a truck route or an airport. When that happens, you can use a little isopropyl alcohol and a rag to clean the panels. However, remember to avoid strong cleaning fluids, as they can streak and even seriously damage the glass.
How to Clean Solar Panels
Generally speaking, roof-mounted systems should be cleaned by professionals. They will know exactly how to protect themselves and will avoid damaging the panels or your roof. But if you have a ground solar panel system, you can safely clean it by following these general guidelines:
Before working on the panels, shut down the entire system. You can find instructions on how to do so on the schematics provided by the manufacturer and installation company. If you see any damaged cables or notice sparks while shutting the system down, stop and report the issues to your provider.
- Avoid cleaning your panels during the day, especially when they are hot. That’s because the water will quickly evaporate and leave marks on the panel. You should clean them early in the morning, late evening, or on an overcast day. As a matter of fact, the morning dew can soften the grime, meaning you will need less effort and water to clean the panels.
- If your panels are dry, use a soft brush to dislodge any loose dirt before using any water. When cleaning with hard water, be sure to squeegee to prevent streaks.
If you do plan to clean your roof-mounted system, do so from the ground using a hose. Do not attempt to access the rooftop without wearing protective equipment such as gloves and a helmet. Furthermore, don’t forget to disconnect your rainwater collection from the guttering system to ensure that no dirty water goes into your tank.
The Bottom Line
At the end of the day, it’s important to understand that solar panels require regular cleaning. Even though that might sound scary, as long as you use safe products such as soapy water and isopropyl alcohol, you won’t damage your panels. However, remember that it’s always best to contact a cleaning company to handle your roof-mounted system in order to avoid slipping and hurting yourself.