Are your solar panels not performing well, or do they look dirty? Or are you just worried about debris’s impact on them? Then worry no more. Here is the ultimate guide on how to clean solar panels to get them exposed properly to the sun for better efficiency.
Well, before diving into the cleaning method, there is a question;
Is it even necessary to clean solar panels? If yes, then how much necessary?
Cleaning solar panels is not a requirement, though.
Cleaning on noticing/seeing dirt, dust, snow, or underperformance can increase overall performance.
In most cases, rain is sufficient for cleaning solar panels.
But, if you are living in a dusty or dry or such area where the wind carries dust (fact: wind can suspend loosely held particles of dust), then it is recommended to clean your panels occasionally, because sometimes a lot of debris/bird dropping on your panels do not get washed completely from rain, and this could decrease efficiency/production.
There are two ways, in general, of cleaning solar panels: Hiring a professional and do it yourself.
The second one is cost-effective.
Note: Even if it is a bit difficult to access to clean your solar panels, then it is better not to attempt cleaning unless you do not have appropriate safety equipment.
If you do not have, hire a professional instead.
The second thing you have to do is choose a specific time or day.
Best Time for Cleaning Solar Panels
Solar Panels becomes hot to a great extent, so it is recommended to do the cleaning at the following time;
In the early morning or afternoon
Relatively cool day
Before applying any method from your own, do check out what your Solar Panel manufacturer suggests, or recommends as sometimes they recommend some specific way to clean and follow that. But if there is not, then follow;
Cleaning Solar panels is like cleaning your car’s windscreen. Both are sensitive.
Make sure to shut down the system the way your company suggests.
Try to do cleaning first with a hose with a good nozzle, and if something is too sticky or not getting removed, then take the help of Squeegee and Sponge. You can take a filled bucket with warm water and soap (Soapy water) and clean the surface with a soft Sponge/Rag/Cloth carefully.
Do’s/What you must-have for cleaning;
Moderately warm water
A soft Sponge or Rag or Cloth
Any Dish Soap
Squeegee (optional but quite helpful to have it)
Don’ts/What not to use for cleaning;
It is difficult for your solar panels to bear the following things because they are sensitive/crucial;
Strong cleaning fluids
Walking on Solar Panels
Don’t clean the wires.
What if you want to try something else other than mentioned material?
You can use anything soft.
It removes pesky birds droppings, just make sure you use something soft and hard-bristle free.
Scratching or damaging the glass at all costs!. Clean your solar panels considering them a luxurious car.
Not frequently, but you might find oily stains on your panel if you are living near an airport or a common vehicle route so you can remove that with a little amount of Isopropyl Alcohol and a rag.
Removing snow from solar panels usually do not need to be done as it will remove on its own. Yes if your solar panels are installed at zero degrees, you might need to put in some effort.
But most solar panels are installed tilted at an angle that makes it easy for snow to slide off.
While cleaning solar panels, do not use a standard shovel, broom, or any other non-specialized tool for sliding off snow from panels, they can leave scratches on panels that will lower your production.
Researches regarding Cleaning
Google did a Study on whether you should clean your solar panels or not. It concluded that titled Solar Panels do not require cleaning as much, but flat one does. This study was confirmed by the University of California, San Diego.
They recommended a minimum 5-degree tilt for sliding off the debris like dirt, dust, smog, etc.
Solar panels are self-sufficient and low maintenance, self cleaning solar panels are available as well.
Self Cleaning Solar Panels
Technology came into being due to Mars Missions, which could help there on Mars. But it can be helpful if we use it in the desserts on Earth.
Dessert is one of the best places for solar panels due to the direct exposure to the sun’s rays. But there is one thing that proves as a hurdle that is dust.
And it means it needs cleaning/washing and we can not be there every time to clean Solar Panels.
Ecopia is an Israeli company that has introduced a new technology that eliminated the requirement of water in washing solar panels through robots. Solar panels power up robots, and they use microfiber buffers that produce generate airflow to remove dust from the panels.
Is it Worthy to Hire a Professional rather than Cleaning Yourself?
First, approach your Solar Installer, they might do it for you for free. The first thing to see is where your panels are located, if they are mounted on the ground, you can clean effectively your them with some cleaner or soap, a hose, and a soft rag. But if they are on the rooftop, it is better to call someone because they are well equipped to safely clean and maintain rooftop units.
The fact is hiring a professional for cleaning costs more than you get in return on investment because they charge high.
From what to prevent your Solar Panels while Washing/Cleaning?
Try to clean carefully as much as you can because damage or a scratch anywhere while cleaning your Solar Panels can lessen its efficiency.
How many times should I clean Solar Panels Annually?
Once or twice a year. Cleaning Solar Panels once or twice can increase efficiency by up to 5% than unwashed Solar panels.
How often do they need to be cleaned?
Probably not so often in most areas. You will probably know when to clean depending on the situation. You clean mostly when output has been relatively lower.
Which time is the best to do Annual Cleaning?
Spring season is the best time to do Annual Cleaning.
FAQs Regarding Leasing and Monitoring System
Should I have a Monitoring System for my Solar Panels?
If you are concerned about Detailed statistics of how much energy your Solar Panel system is producing, then having Solar monitoring suits. You can ask your installer for monitoring system options. In many cases, when you lease Solar Panels, you get free monitoring program. When you own the whole panel system, you need to pay for the monitoring system separately.
Will Leasing Solar panels include maintenance?
Usually, solar lease agreements include maintenance to an extent. Some organizations provide regular maintenance on their panels, and some even offer repair damages on the customer reports. Always keep in mind your panels required a little maintenance. Using a hose for spraying down your panels can do your work.
If you start observing deterioration in the performance of panels; like changes in your electric bill, maybe it is time to get your solar panel clean or maintain. And see if fluctuations in your energy bill disappear after a good rain, something else could be the reason behind the bad performance.
A visual inspection, rainwater bath along with you staying on the ground rather than climbing up to roof maybe all the solar doctor needs to order it is the matter of solar panel cleaning.