How Do I Clean My Solar Panels?
The great thing about a solar PV system – and why it’s such a popular renewable energy source – is that it requires very little maintenance.
With no moving parts and reliable technology, your solar PV system can produce energy for well over 20 years with little to no cleaning and/or maintenance.
Usually, natural rain is enough to clean your solar panels. However, every now and again there are special circumstances where you may be required to clean your panels.
Why Clean My Solar Panels?
If your roof is prone to dust, leaf or bird droppings, cleaning your panels regularly is a good idea. The more dirt there is covering your panels, the less energy output they’ll deliver.
In fact, a study conducted at Google’s 1.6MW solar farm in Mountain View California, found dirty panels could suffer from decreased energy output of up to 25%.
They also discovered that cleaning the panels was the “the number one way to maximize the energy they produce.”
It’s worth noting that Google’s solar farm is on-ground, making it more susceptible to dust, dirt and other debris.
How to Tell if My Solar Panels Need to be Cleaned
There are two ways to tell if your solar panels are in need of a clean: a physical inspection or external monitoring.
1) Physical Inspection
An easy way to see if your panels are dirty is to get up on your roof and simply take a look. Ensure you take the proper safety precautions, and if you’re not comfortable getting up there yourself, you can always hire a professional panel cleaner to take a look for you.
If you notice thick layer dust on your panels, bird poo, or debris, including bark, leaves or other litter, it may mean it’s time for a panel clean.
By closely monitoring your inverter, you can keep track of how much power your solar PV system is producing.
If the amount seems to have decreased due no other external reasons (for example changing of seasons) the cause might be panel related.
How to Clean Solar Panels
If you’ve decided your solar panels are in need of a clean, you can choose to either do it yourself, or hire a professional panel cleaner.
1) Before cleaning, check with your solar panel manufacturer to see if they have any specific recommendations for cleaning.
2) Panels get very warm when under the sun, so try and clean your panels when the sun is not at its strongest, for example in the morning or afternoon.
3) For safety reasons, ensure your solar system is switched off.
4) Fill a bucket with lukewarm water and grab a non-abrasive, soft cloth. Do not use harsh abrasive products of any kind, including detergents or steel wool clothes. While extremely resilient, you don’t want to scratch your solar panels.
5) For high quality solar panels, clean water and a firm but light hand is enough to remove even the most stubborn grime. Make sure you stick to the top, glass part of the panels, and don’t venture to the wire underneath.
6) If the main water you’re using to clean your panels is mineral rich (hard), make sure your squeegee them dry to avoid deposits on your panels.
Hire a Professional
If you’re not comfortable getting up on your roof to clean your panels yourself, or are unable to access your roof safely, there are a number of providers available who will clean your panels for a nominal fee.
To find a reputable panel cleaner, ask your solar provider for a recommendation.