How to Clean Solar Panels

Last Updated: May 1, 2020

Are your solar panels not performing well? or are they dirty? Worry no more. Here’s how to Clean Solar Panels for them to get exposed properly to the sun for better efficiency?

Is it Necessary to Clean Solar?

Although cleaning solar panels is a good practice, it’s not a requirement. You should certainly clean solar panels when they seem dirty, dusty, snowy, or are underperforming in general.

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.

Why Should We Clean Solar Panels?

In most cases, rain is sufficient for cleaning solar panels but if you are living in a dry area or such an area where the wind carries dust as the 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 thoroughly and this could lower production.

Wash me

So you mean debris/dirt has an impact on efficiency? if yes then how much? Well, not that much you are thinking but it mitigates the falling of sun’s rays on solar panels that affects the efficiency by up to 4% or less.

It can cost you $20 annually if you have a 5KW solar panel system.

Debris and Bird Dropping

How to Clean Solar Panels

There are two ways, in general, to get solar panels clean i.e Hiring professional and do it yourself. The second one is the following which is cost-effective so the first thing is choosing who will clean.

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 don’t have appropriate safety equipment. If you don’t have, hire a professional instead.

Cleaning your Solar Panels with Water and Soap

Best Time for Cleaning

The second thing you have to do is selecting a specific time or day. Solar Panels becomes hot to a great extent so it is recommended to do the cleaning on the following time;

  • In the early morning or afternoon
  • Relatively cool day

Do’s/What you must have for Cleaning

  • Warm water
  • A soft Sponge or Rag or Cloth
  • Any Dish Soap/Cleaner
  • Squeegee (optional but quite helpful to have this)

Don’ts/What not to use for Cleaning

It is difficult for your solar panels to bear the following things as they use to sensitive

  • Harsh Chemicals
  • Strong cleaning fluids
  • Walking on Solar Panels
  • Abrasive tools
  • High-Pressure Spray
  • Don’t clean the wires

Solar Panels are Critical

Method

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;

  1. Make sure to shut down the system the way your manufacturer suggests.
  2. Try to do cleaning first with a hose with 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 soft Sponge/Rag/Cloth carefully.

What if you want to try Something else?

If you want to get your solar panels cleaned with any method especially for removing pesky birds droppings, just make sure you use something soft and hard-bristle free.

How to Swipe Down for Cleaning

Keep in mind – scratching or damaging on the glass at all costs!. Clean your solar panels considering thems 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.

Should I remove accumulated snow from Solar Panels?

Removing Snow from Solar Panels

Removing snow from solar panels usually don’t 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 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, don’t 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 i.e 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 of sun’ rays. But there is one thing that proves as a hurdle that is dust.

And it means it needs cleaning/washing and we can’t be there every time to clean Solar Panels.

Ecopia

Ecopia is an Israeli company 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.

Some FAQs

  • Is it Worthy to Hire a Professional rather than Cleaning Yourself?
    • First, approach your Solar Installer, they might do it for you 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 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 because they charge high.

  • From what to prevent your Solar Panels while Washing/Cleaning?
    • Try to clean with carefulness as much as you can because damage or a scratch anywhere while cleaning your Solar Panels can mitigate its efficiency.

Solar Panel Damages

  • How many times should I clean Solar Panels Annually?
    • Once or twice in a year. Solar Panels once or twice can increase efficiency by up to 5% than unwashed Solar panels.
  • 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 hose for spraying down your panels can do your work.

Final Words

If you start observing determination in the performance of panels i.e changes in your electric bill, maybe it is time to get your solar panel cleaned or maintained. 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.

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