How to clean your solar panels

Going solar is a big, important step for homeowners. Now that you have installed solar panels in your home, you are reaping the benefits of solar. However, you may be wondering, “How do I clean  my solar panels?” Cleaning your solar panels isn’t difficult, but it should be done on a regular basis. Your solar dealer can discuss surrounding hazards that may affect how often your panels must be cleaned.  Solar panels don’t need much maintenance, but it is important to keep them clean to maximize power production. Here is everything you need to know about keeping your panels clean and efficient while keeping yourself safe. It may be easier than you think!

Clean panels vs dirty panels

Why is it important?

Keeping your panels clean is simply part of their maintenance. Not only do clean solar panels look sleeker, but they last longer and are more efficient. A likely comparison is your car. Your car works better when you keep up with its maintenance including oil changes, tire rotations, etc. Luckily, solar panels require much less maintenance than a car. However, it is just as important. A study by the US National Renewable Energy Laboratory found that dust and soiling on the glass surface of your panels can result in a 30% energy yield loss power year. Even worse, if you don’t catch the grime early on, soil cementation can potentially cut your production entirely. Just like shade can reduce your energy production, debris, snow, and grime can also prevent light from reaching solar panel cells, making panels less efficient. Many homeowners that have gone solar report that their main reason is potential energy savings. By keeping your solar panels clean you can ensure dust and grime aren’t cutting into those savings.  

Leaves, debris, and bird droppings

Light dust and pollen will often get washed off with the rain, but bigger debris and bird droppings pose a bigger problem. Although you cannot rely solely on the weather to help wash down your panels; if you live in a state with little rain or are in a drought, you won’t get this extra help from mother nature. High winds can carry debris, fires may leave an ash coating, and you cannot prevent birds from leaving bird droppings behind. These larger hazards should be addressed immediately because they may obstruct a large number of solar cells. If your system includes micro-inverters, bird droppings may cover them, stopping energy flow. If you have trees near your system, be mindful that some of their leaves may be blown onto your panels. Remember if you live near agricultural land or the main road with pollution, you will need to be more mindful about the grime buildup on your panels. 

Weather is your friend 

In some cases, you may be able to let nature take its course. Dust buildup can be detrimental to your energy production, but solar rays can still penetrate through an average amount of dust. If you live in a state that sees a lot of rain or snow, you may be in luck. Not only do solar systems still produce in wet weather, but they may get cleaned in the process. Rain can help wash light dust and debris away. Snow may cover your panels temporarily, but as soon as the sun shines, it will melt away, taking debris along with it. We help design your panels at an angle to simplify the process. Depending on the weather, the frequency at which you clean your panels may vary.  We recommend you closely monitor your panels to remove any larger debris.

How can I clean my panels?

If you decide to clean your panels yourself, you have to be very careful. The last thing you want to do is scratch the glass surface of your panels. To avoid this, you can gently wipe the grime and debris away with a non-abrasive sponge and soapy water. If you are dealing with build-up or bird droppings, use diluted dish detergent. Do not use any strong chemicals, they may leave a marking on the panels. To wash away the soap, use a regular hose. We do not recommend the use of a power washer. The trick is to be as gentle as possible if you are doing it yourself. 

Precautions

As mentioned before, you must be very gentle when cleaning your panels to prevent any damage to the glass coating. It is also important that you take safety precautions for yourself. If your system is ground-mounted, it should be relatively easy to clean your panels yourself. We recommend long-handled equipment and general precautions. Roof-mounted panels require more precautions. The safest way to clean your roof-mounted panels is to do so from the ground with long-handled equipment. If your panels are installed at an angle, it may be difficult to clean them from the roof. If it’s not possible to clean them from the ground, you should be cautious and use a safety harness, rope, and hardhat. Take all the safety precautions a professional would. 

The best thing to do is to get some help!

Ultimately, we recommend you seek professional help when cleaning your solar panels, especially if you have a roof-mounted system. Although it is possible to clean your panels yourself, for your safety we recommend a cleaning service. Professionals are trained to clean your panels safely and efficiently. You won’t have to worry about finding your ladder and spending the day trying to clean each panel yourself. 

We thought of everything!

Keeping your panels clean can help you get the most energy out of your solar system. During your in-home consultation, we can discuss potential hazards such as nearby trees and how the weather may come into play. Average debris may cut into your efficiency, but you won’t be left in the dark. Talk to your solar dealer about more precautions and recommendations for keeping your system clean. We are here to help answer any questions to keep your system as clean and efficient as possible. 

Need more information on solar panel maintenance? Call us at 888-557-6431