Struggling with dirty solar panels? Not anymore, we will introduce you to all the techniques on how to clean solar panels and use them to their optimum potential.
Let’s get started!
Saving on energy bills, minimum carbon footprint, and up to 30% federal tax credits—all these major benefits come with solar installation.
- Clean your solar panels regularly with mild soap and water.
- Start by rinsing the panels with water.
- Use a soft cloth or sponge to wipe the panels.
- If there is stubborn dirt or debris, you can use a soft-bristled brush to scrub it away.
- Rinse the panels again with water to remove any soap residue.
- Use a squeegee to remove any excess water.
- Do not clean your solar panels in direct sunlight.
- Hire a professional to clean your solar panels if you have a large system.
- Clean your solar panels more often if you live in an area with a lot of dust or pollen.
- Be careful not to over-clean your solar panels.
However, you have to keep up with their maintenance to get the anticipated productivity and most value out of solar panels. This is because dirty solar panels block the sunrays by 30% and impede it from working efficiently.
If the panels are clean, sunrays activate the electrons of solar panels adequately and generate more electricity. This guide will navigate you through the best ways to clean solar panels and maintain their top efficiency.
First, let’s learn all the nitty-gritty details of solar panel cleaning.
- Introduction to Solar Panel Cleaning
- Importance of regular solar panel maintenance
- Factors affecting solar panel efficiency
- Benefits of cleaning solar panels
- Preparing for Solar Panel Cleaning
- Assessing Solar Panel Condition
- Planning the Cleaning Process
- Dry Cleaning Techniques
- Wet Cleaning Techniques
- Dealing with Stubborn Stains and Residue
- Maintaining the Surrounding Area
- Regular Maintenance and Inspections
- Hiring Professional Solar Panel Cleaning Services
- Frequently Asked Questions
Introduction to Solar Panel Cleaning
Solar panel cleaning is a process of removing dirt, leaves, debris, bird droppings, dust, etc. from the panels to help them absorb sunrays properly. A study conducted in Spain has shown that a year of build-up dust can lower the average efficiency of the solar system by up to 4.4%.
Plus, the daily energy loss can cross more than 20% if the region doesn’t receive rain. Therefore, in Arizona, Nevada, and Utah where the climate is dry and dust is the main issue, cleaning panels even become more significant.
This doesn’t mean that regions receiving regular rainfall can escape from solar panel maintenance. Bird droppings, ash, pollen, leaves, and a hazy film are other problems that get collected on the panels and hinder their performance.
To understand deeper, let’s understand the importance of regular solar panel maintenance.
Importance of regular solar panel maintenance
The build-up of dust and debris obstructs 50% of sunrays to reach the solar panels. As a result, energy productivity drops to half. This decreased output impact the savings on electricity bills. For instance, if you were saving $100 every month, this figure will drop to $50 if panels don’t work efficiently.
When you clean solar panels regularly, it
- Works to its fullest capacity.
- Generates expected energy output.
- Lowers electricity bills.
- Increases savings.
Factors affecting solar panel efficiency
Other than dust, many factors affect the solar panel’s efficiency and its ability to generate electricity as follows:
The efficiency of solar panels fluctuates with the temperature. High temperatures negatively impact the performance of the solar panels.
Soiling such as dust or snow highly impact the efficiency of solar panels and reduce their power generation capability. This also increases the frequency of cleaning the panels.
The more aged solar panels get, the lesser efficient it becomes. The yearly depreciation of solar panels is around 0.5%.
Shading is the barrier between a solar system and sunlight due to large trees, terrain, buildings, and other environmental objects. If any of the solar cells doesn’t receive enough sunlight then other cells dump the energy into the shaded which can damage it.
Benefits of cleaning solar panels
You can experience many benefits from your solar system if you regularly clean the panels. With regular cleaning of solar panels, you can avoid the degradation of solar cells and minimize maintenance costs. Not only this, there are many benefits of clean solar panels.
If dust and dirt stick onto solar panels, it absorbs less sunlight. As a result, it becomes less efficient in generating electricity. Regular cleaning of panels eliminates the build-up of dust and dirt on the solar panel’s surface. This augments the effectiveness and productivity of solar panels.
When you purchase a new solar system, it offers 15-25 years of warranty coverage. However, this coverage doesn’t apply if any solar cells go wrong due to issues like a power outage. If you keep up with the regular maintenance, you can extend the warranty even more.
Keeping solar panels clean increases their lifespan and makes them last longer. You can use different cleaning products to keep them protected against dirt, debris, and dust.
Another benefit of cleaning solar panels is the increased return on investment (ROI). Clean solar cells generate power efficiently and decrease your energy bills substantially. Also, regular cleaning helps you escape from the hefty maintenance that results from extended negligence.
Preparing for Solar Panel Cleaning
You have understood the importance of keeping solar panels clean and maintaining them in good shape. Now the question is ‘how to clean solar panels on the roof? Let’s understand this in a step-by-step process.
Understanding your solar system
You need to understand your solar panel system first to prepare yourself for cleaning. As solar is installed in an open environment, it gets dirty depending on time and location. The solar system generates energy from sunlight in two forms i.e. heat and electricity. To maximize energy production, solar panel maintenance is necessary.
Safety precautions and equipment needed
What do you use to clean solar panels? To start with the cleaning process, you will need the following equipment:
- Soft-bristled brush: You need a soft-bristled brush to clean solar panels without scratching them. Therefore, a soft-bristled brush is the best brush to clean solar panels.
- Soap solution: It is advised to use a mild soap solution (mix of dish soap with water) to clean solar panels. Using a hard or aggressive soap solution damages the surface of the panels.
- Bucket: To easily make and use the soap solution, you will require a bucket.
- Non-abrasive sponge: Put the prepared soap solution on the panel’s surface using a non-abrasive sponge and start gently scrapping it.
- Ladder: If your solar panels are installed high on the roof, you will require a ladder to clean them properly.
- Pressure water or hose: Once you have cleaned the surface with the soap solution, you will need a hose or pressure washer to rinse it.
- Microfiber cloth: Once you rinse the panels, use a microfiber cloth to get rid of water traces and dry the surface.
Identifying the best time and weather conditions for cleaning
The best time to clean the solar panels is early in the morning or after sunrise. Washing the solar panels in daylight evaporates the water and cleaning products quickly. Plus, it leaves residue on the surface which impacts the overall efficiency of the solar system.
Assessing Solar Panel Condition
Inspecting for dirt, debris, and obstructions
You can easily assess the condition of the solar panels with the amount of dirt, dust, debris, and obstructions with a quick glance. You can keep a periodic check on your solar panels and start the cleansing process based on the amount of needed cleaning.
Identifying signs of damage or defects
As already discussed, the most common method of identifying defects and damages in solar system surfaces is a quick visual inspection. Through physical inspection, you can find out the signs of wear or damage on the PV panels easily.
Assessing the need for professional assistance
Should you clean solar panels? The answer is yes, the dirt, debris, and other type of build-up dust can be cleaned easily with DIY techniques. However, when you observe that your solar system is not working efficiently or producing less power, then you should seek professional assistance soon.
Planning the Cleaning Process
How do I clean my solar panels? You need to thoroughly plan the cleaning process to make your system work efficiently all the time.
Gathering the necessary cleaning supplies
What do you clean solar panels with? To start with the clean solar panel mission, you need to gather the major cleaning supplies as follows:
- Soft sponge
- A hose or pressure washer
- Soap solution
Determining the appropriate cleaning method
Once you assess your solar system, you need to decide on the right technique to go ahead with the cleansing. For instance, if the surface is covered with light dust, debris, leaves, or dirt, you can clean it with any DIY techniques.
However, if you observe that the amount of build-up dirt needs hard-core cleaning then you will have to gather all the necessary cleaning supplies to clean the solar panels thoroughly.
Creating a step-by-step cleaning plan
The best way to clean solar panels on the roof is by creating a step-by-step cleaning plan.
- Remove the dust: The first step is to remove the dust from the solar panel surface using a soft brush.
- Water hose: Once you have removed the dust from the surface, clean the solar panels using a water hose. Avoid putting pressure as it damages or cracks the panels.
- Scrubbing the dirt: Now you will start scrubbing the dirty areas gently with a soft brush and water. If there is a bird dropping, consider using mild soap as it will not get cleaned with mere water spray.
- Evaluate the cleaning effect: After using the right equipment and taking all the necessary precautions in the panel cleaning process. You should evaluate the effect of your hard work by monitoring the output of panels.
- Seek professional help for complexities: If you see that the panels are very dirty and losing their efficiency then seeking professional help is recommended.
Dry Cleaning Techniques
Yes, you can clean solar panels without using water as there are various dry cleaning techniques that exist. Dry cleaning is another best method to clean solar panels if you want to avoid using water in cleaning solar panels. You can consider the following techniques.
Using a soft-bristle brush or broom for light debris
If the surface of your solar panels is covered with light dust, dirt, or debris, you can use a soft-bristle brush or broom to get rid of it. You need to follow this procedure very gently as putting much pressure on the panel can damage it.
Utilizing compressed air or leaf blowers for loose particles
You can also use leaf blowers or compressed air to remove loose particles from the solar panels. Using waterless sprinklers is another best way to clean solar panels. However, this technology is quite an expensive deal.
Applying a dry microfiber cloth for gentle cleaning
Using a dry microfiber cloth for cleaning solar panels is one of the common methods that homeowners opt for. But, you need to be very gentle with the cleaning process as many people end up cracking or damaging the solar panels.
Wet Cleaning Techniques
Light dust and dirt can be easily cleaned with dry techniques. However, some specks of dirt are complex and require deep cleaning with water. If the surface of the solar panel is covered with such dirt, you can follow the below-mentioned wet cleaning techniques.
Preparing a mild cleaning solution
To start with wet cleaning, you need to first prepare a mild soap solution as the aggressive mix can damage the solar panels further.
Rinsing the panels with water before cleaning
Before applying the solution to the surface of the solar panel, you need to rinse the panels using water spray. This helps in getting rid of excess dust build-up on the surface and absorbing the solution properly.
Using a sponge or non-abrasive brush for wet cleaning
Once you apply the solution, use a non-abrasive brush or soft sponge to clean the panels. You need to be very gentle in this step. As excessive pressure can put crack or damage the panels.
Properly rinse and dry the panels
Now gently spray the water to rinse the solution from the panel’s surface. Once you have rinsed the soap, you can use a microfiber cloth to clean the panels.
Dealing with Stubborn Stains and Residue
How to clean a solar panel when stubborn stains and residue build-up? Here is the answer:
Removing bird droppings, tree sap, and hard water stains
A mild solution of dish soap and water can help you get rid of bird droppings, hard water stains, and tree sap.
Treating persistent grime and oily residues
To get rid of oily residues and stains from solar panels, you can use chemicals. You can buy chemicals that are non-solvent compounds and highly concentrated which are scientifically proven to better clean the solar panels than just water.
Maintaining the Surrounding Area
To minimize the frequency of cleaning the solar panels, you need to consider maintaining your surrounding area.
Trimming trees and shrubs to minimize shading
Shading is one of the biggest aspects that makes a solar system less efficient. If you reside in an area surrounded by trees and shrubs, you can trim them to aid solar panels absorb the sunlight properly.
Managing dust and debris accumulation near the panels
Mild dust if go unnoticed can become rigid and build up dirt. Therefore, keep a regular visual check on your solar panels to avoid debris accumulation near it.
Installing bird deterrents and pest control measures
If bird dropping is the major problem in your area, you can install deterrent devices near the panels. Devices like bird spikes and sonic units deter prevent birds and pests from roosting or landing in that particular area.
Regular Maintenance and Inspections
Precaution is better than cure—this adage is well-applicable in our lives, and solar panel maintenance is no exception. With regular inspection and maintenance of a solar system, you can avoid paying hefty repair bills in the end.
Establishing a cleaning schedule and frequency
Maintain a schedule for cleaning the solar panels periodically. You need to be consistent when it comes to visual inspection and cleaning the solar system to keep its efficiency intact.
Monitoring solar panel performance and output
Build-up dust and debris affect the performance of the solar system. If you regularly monitor and clean them, it will give out the expected results. On the contrary, if you overlook the debris and dirt around the panels, it can become complex and you will require professional help.
Recognizing signs of potential issues or malfunctions
If you see that your solar system is not generating enough power and have become less efficient. You need to take action fast because unattended issues can become a giant problem in the future.
Hiring Professional Solar Panel Cleaning Services
As already discussed, some malfunctions and issues have to be taken care of by professionals only. However, you need to carefully partner with someone who offers expertise and experience in the related field.
Assessing the need for professional assistance
First, you need to assess the severity of the issues. If you are not confident about a DIY cleaning technique, you should never try it in the first place because it can damage the solar system. If your solar panels have become less efficient, without getting your hands dirty, you should take professional assistance.
Choosing reputable and experienced service providers
Whenever you seek professional help online, the options can overwhelm you to the core. To partner with the right service provider, you need to do detailed research. Gauge the experience, reputation, and reviews from their former customers and make the decision.
Understanding the costs of professional cleaning
The cost of professional cleaning depends on the number and type of panels that need to be cleaned. If you own rigid solar panels then the cost of cleaning will range between $150 to $300 per visit. Whereas, if you own flexible solar panels, the price of cleaning would fall between $500-$700 for the maintenance.
Frequently Asked Questions
Do I need to turn off solar panels to clean?
Yes, you should shut down the solar system completely before beginning the cleaning process. Because it leads to electric shock when you clean the panels without turning them off.
How often should I clean my solar panels?
To make your solar panels work to their full efficiency, you need to keep them clean every month.
How to clean solar panels on roof?
All the mentioned techniques help you keep the solar panels clean, maintained, and efficient.
How much does it cost to clean solar panels?
If you take professional help, the cost to clean solar panels would be between $150 to $300 for each visit. However, the exact cost depends on the severity, type of panels, and the number of panels that need to be cleaned.
What is the best method of cleaning solar panels?
Dry cleaning, wet cleaning, and other DIY are the best methods of solar cleaning solar panels. However, the choice depends on the amount of needed cleaning.
Solar panel maintenance is essential for residents who have installed them on their rooftops. Build-up dust and other types of dirt hinder panels to perform optimally. Cleaning solar panels regularly aids solar cells to absorb sunlight properly and generate power efficiently. Plus, this practice can save you from paying hefty charges for professional cleaning.
Maintaining solar panels offers long-term benefits. It increases your ROI, minimizes electricity bills, and works more than the warranty period.
All the above-mentioned techniques will greatly help you in upkeeping your solar panels. You just need to choose one which is comfortable for you.
Now pick anyone and maximize the amount of electricity from each solar panel!