Solar panels can be a big investment for your home or business. What many people overlook is the fact they should be cleaned at regular intervals in order to maintain peak performance. This article offers some useful information on when and how to clean solar panels.
Whilst a small amount of dust or dirt won’t impact on performance all that much, the regular cleaning of solar panels still helps to accelerate return on investment (ROI).
When To Clean Your Solar Panels
Many people wonder when the right time is to clean their solar cells. Depending on where you look, you will see lots of different views on this topic. Some recommend cleaning every couple of months, others every year, whilst some recommend never cleaning at all.
The truth is that different systems have different requirements. Both your solar panel manufacturer and your geographic location come into play here. If your solar panels have a self-cleaning coating, you will likely never have to clean them. If you live in an area with high pollution, you might need to clean your system at regular intervals.
Here are some useful tips in determining how often you should be cleaning your solar panels:
- Check the guidelines of your panel manufacturer. These should state how often your panels require cleaning (if at all), along with the recommended interval. Never exceed the manufacturer guidelines as this may void your warranty.
- If you live in an area with low rainfall and high pollution, consider cleaning them as frequently as the manufacturer guidelines recommend.
- Consider setting a benchmark to determine if dirt is affecting the performance of your system. To do this, check the power output of your newly installed (or freshly cleaned) system and keep a record of it. Be sure to include the date, temperature, weather conditions, and time of day so you can accurately check against it in the future. If your solar power output drops, your panels might be due a clean.
- If they are dirty enough to affect the aesthetics of your house then you might want to clean them. This can help give you more pride in your home.
How To Clean Them
Whilst removing dust, dirt, bird droppings, and other substances from your solar panels won’t be the highlight of your week, it can give you the satisfaction that your system is working at peak efficiency.
There are several ways you can clean solar panels, some of which include the following:
- By hiring a professional. Yes, this does cost money but it is often the safest approach.
- Use your garden hose. This is a simple solution, but if you live in a hard-water area, be sure to dry your panels afterward to remove any impurities.
- Use a squeegee or other non-abrasive implement. This is often one of the best approaches and can help to remove stubborn dirt that won’t come off with water alone.
Some Things To Consider
Although the cleaning of solar panels doesn’t sound like the most dangerous job in the world, there are a few things you should consider before you begin:
- It can be dangerous. If you aren’t sure what you are doing and/or don’t have the right equipment, you might be better off enlisting the help of a professional.
- Cleaning may void your solar panel warranty. You should always check the manufacturer guidelines and warranty information before you begin. When in doubt, contact the manufacturer directly.
- Always use non-abrasive cleaning implements. This will reduce the possibility of you damaging the surface of your solar cells. Using a squeegee or implement with soft brushes often does the trick.
- Never use chemicals or other cleaning fluids. These can leave residue and/or cause damage to your panels. Instead, opt for distilled water if possible.
- Avoid cleaning in freezing conditions as this can cause unintended icy stretches on paths and driveways. If mother nature has covered your solar panels in snow, we have an article dedicated to snow removal from solar panels.
- Try not to clean in direct sunlight or on hot days. This can lead to streaky panels and has the potential to cause damage when applying cold water to a hot solar panel. To mitigate this, check the weather conditions early in the morning. If suitable, clean your solar panels there and then. Overcast days or late in the evening can also be wise choices.
- Avoid high-pressure hoses such as a jet washer. These can cause significant damage to solar panels and possibly your roof.
Cleaning solar panels so they are free of dust and dirt can help to increase power production. This helps to keep your electric bills low and allows you to make the most of your renewable energy investment.
Always consult the manufacturer guidelines before cleaning your solar cells. If they should be cleaned but you don’t feel comfortable doing this yourself, consider a professional cleaning service instead.
Remember that small amounts of dust and dirt will often have a minimal impact on the performance of modern solar cells. In such cases, the cost and effort of cleaning them might far outweigh the benefits.