Last updated on November 1st, 2019
Solar panels need cleaning once in a while, as a lot of dirt and debris tend to accumulate over their surface. With a view to keep your solar panels performing well, it is essential to clean them thoroughly. But the question is, How to clean solar panels effectively and safely?
Here, we will not only discuss the best ways to clean solar panels but also guide you regarding some other important aspects.
Why Is It Important to Clean Your Solar Panels
Dust, bird droppings and other debris can lower the efficiency of a solar panel. In order to know what difference it makes by cleaning the solar panels, Google conducted an experiment at a 1.6 MW solar farm.
After cleaning the panels, analyst noticed a massive increase in the output of such a solar farm. The findings suggested that solar panel cleaning appears to be the best way to enhance the power generation of a solar system.
While conducting a similar test, researchers also found that rain doesn’t clean the panels thoroughly. On the contrary, professional cleaning of the panels can promise a 12% higher output.
Hence, one can clearly suggest that panels lose 15-25% of their efficiency when they are dirty. This means that you are generating 15-25% less electricity.
Thorough cleaning also pays you back in terms of increasing the life span of your solar panels.
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See Related: Best Solar Panels to Buy
When to Clean Your Solar Panels
Generally, there is no specific timeframe for cleaning the solar panel. In fact, some geographic locations and climates require frequent cleaning. The best advice in this regard is to monitor the power output changes in your solar system.
Analyze the efficiency of your system at different time intervals and take note of what really works. Keep an eye on the appearance of the solar panels. If they appear dull and less shiny, it’s time to clean them. The appearance of solar panels varies in color depending on if they are monocrystalline vs polycrystalline.
Choose early morning or evening time to clean the panels. If you clean them during the blazing sunlight, the panels will dry quickly and smudges will appear on the surface.
When it comes to cleaning solar panels, it depends largely on the place of installation. If you live in an area where heavy dust storms are common, you need to clean solar panels on your roof regularly.
Similarly, if the panels receive excessive bird droppings, there is no other choice but to clean them after short intervals. Solar panels do not require much maintenance; however, cleaning is an integral part of solar panel maintenance that you can’t take lightly.
In order to know whether your panels are dirty enough to be cleaned, try to monitor their surface once in a week. If you observe massive dirt, leaves or bird droppings, it’s time to clean your solar panel. This will help increase your capacity factor and production. Here is a guide to how solar power production works.
Apart from dust and debris, heavy snow also affects the performance of a solar panel. In most of the instance, snow starts to meltdown when the sun shines over the panels.
But when thick clouds continue to block the sunlight, you need to remove the ice on your own.
See Related: How Solar Panels Perform in Weather Conditions
How to Clean Solar Panels
Cleaning solar panels are similar to cleaning your windows. Besides, it doesn’t consume much of your time. If you neglect or fail to clean your solar panels, it may cost you a lot in terms of lowering the efficiency and minimizing the life span of a solar panel.
Prior to start cleaning your solar panels for the first time, make sure to read the manufacturer’s recommendation for cleaning a solar panel. During hot days of summer, panels become too hot to touch. Therefore, chose a relatively cool day for cleaning your solar panels.
To begin with, use your garden hose to wash some excessive dirt or bird droppings. The next step is to clean the panels thoroughly. For this purpose, mix warm water and soap/cleaning agent in a spray bottle or bucket.
Grab a piece of towel to apply the surface cleaner and remove smudges.
If you need to climb up to the roof, be careful and use necessary precautions. When it isn’t safe for you to clean the solar panels, consider getting professional help for this job.
This is so, as safety should be your first concern while cleaning solar panels.
Tips for Solar Panel Cleaning
After discussing how to clean solar panels, let us share some tips to complete this task effectively and safely.
- Make sure to shut down your solar system before starting the cleanup procedure.
- If the panels are installed on a tilted roof, don’t go on the roof without a safety harness. In fact, neglecting it may turn out to be a risky move for you and the panels. This can cause injury or loss of production. Cleaning can be more complex if you have solar racking on your roof.
- Try to brush off any loose dirt before washing the panels with water. It will simplify the whole process and make it easier to clean the tough stains.
- Selection of an appropriate nozzle attachment on the garden hose is also critical. The right amount of water pressure can remove most of the dirt and debris from the solar panels. So keep this in mind when you are planning to clean your solar panels next time.
- While cleaning the surface of a panel, don’t use abrasive or metal objects. Even minor scratches on the panel can affect its efficiency. The best equipment includes soft cloth, tender brush, gloves, small wiper and some soap (if necessary).
- We normally use tap water to clean the solar panels, which is high in mineral content. This is the reason, why you should completely dry the panels after cleaning them. This will help to avoid mineral deposits over the surface or at the borders of a solar panel.
See Related: How Community Solar Works (A Pros and Cons Analysis)
Things to Avoid When Cleaning Solar Panels
Given below are a few things that you should avoid when cleaning your solar panels. By considering these aspects, you can complete the cleaning process without causing any damage to your PV panels.
- First, don’t clean your solar panels without reading the instructions from the manufacturer
- Don’t use detergent or abrasive powder. It will protect the glass from any scratches or damage
- Avoid washing the solar panel if there is a minor crack
- Don’t use a high-pressure water pump to clean the solar panels
- Avoid using abrasive detergent, instead, use water and a small amount of mild surface cleaner to remove strong stains
- You can’t use a hard brush or abrasive sponge to clean the stubborn grime
- Avoid scratching the panel with a metal scraper
- Don’t put excessive pressure while cleaning the surface of a panel
- Avoid wearing metallic jewelry when cleaning your solar panels
Safety Rules to Follow While Cleaning your Solar Panels
Although solar system installation doesn’t have a lot of mechanical parts, safety should be your first priority when cleaning solar panels. Below are a few safety rules to follow when attempting solar panel cleanup.
- Don’t clean solar panels on your roof during bad weather i.e strong wind storm or heavy rain
- Avoid using solar panels as a way to secure your position on the roof
- Make sure the roof surface is dry and non-slippery
- The roof must be strong enough to bear your weight
- Always wear required safety gear including gloves, helmet, hard shoes, and face mask
- While cleaning the solar panels, don’t work alone. Ask one of your family member or friend to stay close to you while you are performing this task
Cleaning solar panels on your house should be done safely and carefully.
How to Find the Best Solar Panel Cleaning Company
When you need to clean solar panels on your roof, you shouldn’t risk yourself while walking on the inclined surface of your roof. Apart from this, you may not like the idea of voiding the warranty by accidentally damaging the panels while cleaning them.
In this situation, you must rely on the professionals offering solar maintenance services. This is the safest and most effective way to clean solar panels on your roof.
If there was a strong dust or winds storm in your area, or a few years have passed since the installation of your solar panels, it is the right time to contact a professional solar cleaning company.
Below are some of the things to consider when looking for the best solar maintenance and cleaning company.
First, you must consider contacting your solar panel manufacturer. You can also read the owner’s manual to know what materials should be used to clean your solar panels. In fact, your panels may need specific materials for cleaning.
The manufacturer can give you the best advice regarding how to clean the solar panels. Do some homework while visiting the professional cleaning services operating in your locality.
You can also visit some review sites like Thumbtack, Yelp or Angie’s List to gather some essential information and recommendations from previous customers.
After that, compare some of these companies to find out about their services and offerings. Although all cleaning services appear to be the same, some aspects do award a distinctive edge to a particular company.
Different cleaning companies follow a different method to clean solar panels. Moreover, some companies use special cleaning solutions and offer additional services such as general maintenance checks.
Consider requesting a consultation or custom quote. This means that the company’s representatives will come to your place and analyze the condition of your solar panels. As a result, they can suggest an accurate price depending on the location and size of your solar system.
You can also request a service provider for referrals. It will help you to learn about the experiences of past customers. In this way, you can find a reliable and experienced solar cleaning company.
See Related: Solar Farm Land Requirements
Solar Panel Cleaning Services to Consider
If you want to limit your search, here are a few companies that offer their services in various parts of the USA.
HelioPower offers the services of their highly skilled team. They have the required knowledge and provide regular maintenance services. In fact, it’s a plus to find a cleaning company that also offers general inspection and maintenance check.
HelioPower covers all the services that you may need for the maintenance of your solar system. Prior to an in-depth cleaning, their professional team performs a visual inspection. The company also handles all types of electrical components, which are essential for any solar power system.
The ability to automate the solar panel cleaning and maintenance is the aspect, which sets this company apart from its competitors. The idea of cleaning your solar panels with the help of an automated system sounds fascinating.
This is possible with Hliotex, which offers automated solar panel cleaning mechanism. The system is designed and programmed to clean your array regularly. The type and cost of such cleaning system depend on the size of your panels and environment.
The cleaning system offered by Heliotex also comes with anti-theft devices, which ensures the safety of your solar panels against theft.
Blue Oak Energy
This company usually works with large scale installations and commercial entities. If you own a large-scale solar power system, these are the experts to rely on. This company not only offers comprehensive maintenance services but also builds high power solar panel systems.
Besides cleaning solar panels, Blue Oak Energy also provides corrective and preventative maintenance services. When it comes to testing, managing, and improving the efficiency of a solar system, this company stands out among the rest.
Solar Maid covers the largest service area in the country. Unlike some local solar cleaning services, this company offers cleaning services in various states.
They offer a wide range of services apart from cleaning. Solar maintenance and operation management are some of the noticeable services offered by Solar Maid.
See Related: Best Batteries for Solar Panels
Conclusion on Solar Panel Cleaning
Solar panel installation is a significant investment, which demands regular maintenance and cleaning. Since you don’t need to dedicate a lot of time or money while maintaining your solar system, there is no reason to neglect it.
Hence, make sure to give your panels some attention by scrubbing down the dust, dirt or debris. It will help your system to last longer, look cleaner and perform better.
As a result, you can save a considerable amount in terms of paying minimum power bills.
Are you ready to clean your solar panels? Let us know in the comments below. We’d love to hear from you. Check out our renewable energy dictionary to become smarter on industry lingo and more.