As a solar panel owner, you know it’s important to keep your panels in top condition for maximum efficiency and energy production – and panel cleaning is an important part of that.
Dust, debris, and other elements can accumulate on the surface of the panels over time, reducing their ability to generate power. In this article, we’ll discuss everything you need to know about solar panel cleaning, including why it’s important, how often to do it, and best practices to keep your system running smoothly and efficiently.
Why Should I Clean my Solar Panels?
Maintaining the cleanliness of your solar panels may seem like an unnecessary task, but it’s actually essential for maximizing the energy production of your solar power system. The accumulation of dust, dirt, pollen, bird droppings, and other debris can significantly reduce your panels’ efficiency.
In fact, Google conducted a groundbreaking experiment at their 1.6 MW solar farm in Mountain View, California. The study found that cleaning the solar panels was “the number one way to maximize the energy they produced.” It also showed that cleaning panels that had been in operation for 15 months actually doubled their output of electricity.
Google also found that rain alone isn’t enough to clean flat solar panels, so it’s important to proactively clean them to ensure peak performance.
Will Neglecting Solar Panel Cleaning Cost Me Money?
Studies have shown that solar power panels can lose up to 15-25% of their efficiency if not cleaned regularly. This results in your solar system generating less electricity, which means you’ll have to purchase more energy from the utility company at their peak rates. As a result, your payback time may increase by a few years.
Can I Clean My Solar Panels Myself?
Maintaining your solar panels is an important part of ensuring optimal performance and extending the life of your system. But can you clean them yourself? The short answer is yes.
Like washing your car, you can DIY solar panel upkeep and it doesn’t take much effort. But if you have a rooftop system, it’s a good idea to consider professional solar panel cleaning services for safety reasons. These companies are equipped to safely maintain rooftop units. While a cleaning company may not do a significantly better job than you, it might be worth the service fee for peace of mind.
How to Clean Your Own Solar Panels
- Before you start cleaning your solar panels, make sure to check with your panel manufacturer for any specific cleaning recommendations.
- Turn off your solar energy system to ensure your safety and prevent any damage to your equipment.
- The longer solar panels are in the sun, the hotter they get. Clean your panels in the morning, early afternoon, or choose a cool day to avoid any excessive heat.
- Start by using a garden hose to clean your solar panels. If there is a significant amount of dirt or dust, use a soft cloth or sponge to clean the surface. Do not clean the wiring underneath.
- Fill a bucket or spray bottle with warm water and regular dish soap to clean your solar panels. There’s no need to purchase a special cleaning solution.
- Avoid using a high-pressure hose that might create cracks or other damage to your solar panels.
Important note: Be careful if you need to climb up on the roof to clean your panels. Consider hiring a professional solar panel cleaner if you’re not confident in your ability to perform the task safely. With multi-story homes, steep roofs or slick surfaces, it may be in your best interest to hire a professional in your area.
Types of Professional Cleaning
If you’re not comfortable with cleaning your solar panels, there are many professional cleaning companies available. From robotics companies that use semi-autonomous machines to high-tech cleaning options that utilize waterless vibration and nanoparticle coatings, there are various ways to clean your solar panels. Some maintenance companies even use soapless brushes and sponges to avoid harmful residues. Local solar panel cleaning companies are an online search away, with affordable options.
What Should You Use to Clean Your Solar Panels?
When it comes to cleaning your solar panels, it’s important to use the right materials to avoid scratching or damaging the glass. A simple, effective cleaning method is to use a soft sponge or cloth, warm water, and dish soap, which can easily remove dirt and debris.
If there are oily stains from living near a common truck route or airport, isopropyl alcohol and a rag can remove them. Avoid using strong cleaning detergents, as these can streak and damage the glass, leading to reduced panel efficiency. Using a squeegee to remove dirty water can also help maintain the cleanliness of your panels.
How Often Should You Clean Your Solar Panels?
While once or twice a year is usually sufficient for most locations, there are special cases that require extra attention. For example, if your panels are installed in a place with limited rainfall or near sources of pollution, they’ll need to be cleaned more often. Removing leaves and snow in autumn and winter is also important.
Additionally, the angle of your panels can impact how often they need to be cleaned. To determine the optimal cleaning frequency, monitor changes in power output before and after cleaning and experiment with different time intervals. By keeping your panels clean, you can ensure that they’re operating at maximum efficiency and producing the most electricity possible.
Solar Panel Cleaning Frequently Asked Questions
What should I clean my solar panels with?
Regular dish soap and clean water, applied with a soft sponge or cloth, is the safest and easiest cleaning method. Using a squeegee to remove dirty water can also be helpful. Avoid strong cleaning detergents, which can streak and damage the glass and impact panel efficiency.
Can I clean solar panels myself?
Yes, you can clean your solar panels yourself. With a bucket of water, dish soap, and a low-pressure hose, you can effectively clean your solar panels.
Does cleaning my solar panels void my warranty?
Cleaning your solar panels will not necessarily void your warranty, but it’s important to be cautious and use proper cleaning methods. Avoid using harsh chemicals or pressure washers that could damage your panels and potentially void your warranty. Always read the details of your warranty before attempting to clean your solar panels, and make sure to follow any guidelines or recommendations provided by the manufacturer.
Can you use Windex on solar panels?
While dish soap and water with a soft sponge or rag is a safe and effective method for cleaning solar panels, Windex is another cheap and widely available option for cleaning glass surfaces like those on your panels.
Is it okay to pressure wash solar panels?
Using a pressure washer on solar panels is not recommended as it can damage and create cracks on the panels. Stick to more gentle cleaning methods like soap and water, as well as soft brushes or sponges to prevent any damage and ensure optimal efficiency.
What is the cost to clean solar panels?
The cost of cleaning your solar panels can vary depending on a number of factors, including the size of the system, the degree of dirt buildup, and the specific type of panels. Generally, professional cleaning services cost between $150 and $300 and costs range between $15 and $30 per panel.
Does cleaning your solar panels make a difference?
While rain will naturally rinse your panels, making an effort to clean them can make a significant difference in their performance. Dust, dirt, and other debris can accumulate on the surface of solar panels and reduce their energy output by 15-25%. Regular cleaning ensures your panels continue to run at peak efficiency and studies show solar panels that are cleaned once or twice a year can produce 3.5% to 5.1% more electricity than those that aren’t.
How often should solar panels be cleaned?
While the frequency of cleaning your solar panels may depend on the location and conditions, it’s recommended to clean them every six months to a year. The amount of dust, dirt, and debris in the air, the tilt and orientation of your panels, and the level of rainfall in your area may also influence how often you need to clean them.
Cleaning Your Solar Panels is Worth the Effort
At the end of the day, cleaning your solar panels is worth the effort. Not only is it a simple process that won’t take up much of your time, it can boost your system’s efficiency and electric bills savings. And if you don’t have the time to clean your panels yourself, professional cleaning services are always available.
Don’t forget to share the benefits of solar with your friends, family and neighbors! When you refer them and they go solar with us, we’ll send you a $500 check!