Solar panels collect leaves, bird feces, and dust. Even though rain removes some of this, it does not remove all of it, and puddles might leave a nasty residue when they evaporate. To begin the cleaning procedure, gently brushing with a soft-bristled tool should be used to remove debris.
If the soft brush is coupled to a telescopic extension pole with a threaded tip or hook, this can be done from the ground. Some poles can reach a length of 24 feet. Reaching solar panels to brush will require an extended ladder if you don’t have a long enough extension pole. If you must climb to the roof, use safety equipment such as a hard helmet and harness.
Starting with a gentle brushing is the ideal approach to clean solar panels because if there is a lot of material on the panels, combining the debris with water right away could cause the debris to spread and smear. Brushing breaks down and eliminates some debris, making the cleaning process more successful in the next steps. To keep your hands clean and safe, put on work gloves.
What’s the best way to keep solar panels clean?
Your solar panels are usually flat, inclined, and on your rooftop if you have a domestic solar energy system installed. When was the last time you cleaned your roof? Most certainly not very often, if at all. What’s up with that? “Isn’t that what rain is for?” I hear you say. That reasoning also applies to solar panels.
You won’t have to clean your solar panels very often, if at all. After all, any filth that collects on them (such as dust or pollen) will be rinsed away the next time it rains. However, there are instances when cleaning your solar panels makes sense. If you have a lot of bird droppings on your panels, rain may not be able to wash them away easily, therefore cleaning them is a smart idea. You may also need to clean them from time to time if you live in a state that is prone to droughts or if the rain is only a light, misty rain.
Is it true that dirt and debris reduce the efficiency of your solar panels? And, if so, how much will it cost? In a nutshell, yes and no. And there isn’t much. Yes, dirt and debris can reduce the amount of sunlight that goes through to be converted into energy. However, the reduction in efficiency is minorperhaps 5% or less. And, with a normal 5kW solar system, this might be a $20 reduction in your monthly energy expenditure. Not on a monthly basis. And, even if we’re talking about drought-stricken places, when it does rain a few months down the road, everything will be washed away, and it might not be worth it to go to the trouble of cleaning it in the first place.
How to Clean Solar Panels
If you decide that your solar panels need cleaning, you have two options: hire a professional or do it yourself. Many solar firms will provide you with this service for a price, of course. They may include it as part of an annual maintenance package or recommend that you get it done on a regular basis when they come to install the equipment. The truth is that the amount you save on your energy bill does not exceed the money you must pay these providers to complete the work. Solar firms frequently demand a high fee for this cleaning, with little return on your energy expenditure.
On the other hand, if you choose to do it yourself, you’ll probably have everything you need at home. In most cases, all you’ll need is a hose and maybe some soap, and you’ll be ready to go. This might be useful in drought-prone places as well, because what you’re doing with the hose is essentially the same thing rain would do if there was more of it.
There are a few ways to tell if your solar panels need to be cleaned in the first place. The first is a visual inspection of the panels for trash, filth, and bird droppings, among other things. The other option is to employ a monitoring system to keep track of how well your solar panels are working and performing. This can notify you to any system maintenance requirements, whether mechanical, electrical, or cleanliness-related.
What Do You Use to Clean Solar Panels?
You can clean your residential solar panels with a range of items if you want to do it yourself. But first and foremost, let’s talk about the basics. Check with your solar installers and providers to see if they have any solar panel cleaning information, tips, or dos and don’ts for cleaning your system.
Cleaning your solar panels with a hose and a bucket of soapy water is the most effective method. In a similar way to how you would wash your automobile at home. Because you don’t want to scratch the panels, you should only use soapy water and a non-abrasive sponge to apply it. When cleaning your solar panels, keep in mind that you should avoid using any form of high-pressure water sprayer. The solar panels themselves may be damaged by a high-pressure attachment.
If you must use something other than water to remove bothersome bird droppings, make sure it is soft and bristle-free. Sponges are excellent for cleaning solar panels because they do not scratch them. If you want to use some soap on your sponge, use anything you’d use to clean your dishes with. Laundry detergents and other harsh chemicals may have a negative impact on your solar panels. Remember that in 99 percent of circumstances, plain water is the best option.
Keep in mind that when the sun shines directly on solar panels, they can become extremely hot. It’s preferable to clean the panels on a cold, gloomy day. Not just to avoid getting burned, but if you try to clean the solar panels when it’s extremely hot outside, the soapy water you use will evaporate fast, leaving a residue or smear on the panels that will reduce their efficacy.
Is It Worth It To Clean Your Solar Panels?
Experts are leaning toward “no” based on the research. Especially if you want to employ a professional firm to clean them instead of doing it yourself. The return on investment is simply insufficient to justify the effort. Let’s look at some statistics. Expect a 5 percent or less drop in output when your solar panels become dirty. That’s only when they’re filthy. In most regions, if the solar panels have dust or debris on them and their energy output is 5 percent lower than it is at other times, the next rain will wash away the debris and the solar panels will return to their peak efficiency. It will rain again, even if you live in a drought-prone location.
Furthermore, most solar panels are angled at such an angle that most buildup runs directly off the panel rather than adhering to the top. Even with tilted panels, there may be some little buildup on the lowest panel (due to runoff collecting at the bottom), but the reduction in output is so minor that it’s not worth worrying about.
Finally, climbing up a ladder, getting on your roof, and cleaning your solar panels yourself is a relatively tiny energy and cost tradeoff. This issue may start to hit home when you consider getting out there and carrying a hose up to the roof to clean them.
Maintenance and Upkeep
In general, you should let the rain clean your solar panels. Pay attention to your energy bills and usage month after month to keep track of your system’s performance. If your electric bill begins to fluctuate, it may be time to consider cleaning or other types of maintenance. If you suspect that swings in your energy cost are due to solar panel cleaning, wait for a good rain to see if the efficiency returns to normal. If that’s the case, you’re probably done. If the functionality is still broken, it’s likely that something electrical has to be fixed rather than just cleaned.
A visual check, a rainwater bath, and your staying on the ground (rather than stepping up a ladder) may be all the solar doctor needs to order when it comes to solar panel cleaning.
Is it possible for me to clean solar panels myself?
You may not need to do much to clean your panels depending on the degree of the debris. This is why we advise you to assess the panels first. Examine them to see how much trash, grime, and substance build-up has accumulated on the panels (are there any sticky substances, such as bird droppings?).
Then decide how you’ll clean the panels:
For Minimal Dust Build-Up: Use a Hose
If the messiness of your panel is primarily due to dust and grime build-up, you’ll probably only need a simple hose-down to clean it up. If your garden hose can reach your panels, that should suffice. Simply saturate them with water and you’re ready to go. You can set them out in the sun to dry.
Just make sure you don’t use high-pressure jets or a pressure washer to spray the panels. This could scrape or damage the panels, resulting in decreased performance and efficiency.
For More Extensive Mess: Scrub Them Down
If the debris on your panels is more than simply dust and dirt, and includes sticky stuff like bird droppings or sticky plant materials, you should scrub them thoroughly.
You don’t want to be too harsh on the panels again. Choose a gentle scrubber, squeegee, or brush to avoid scratching or damaging the panels. Also, choose a gentle soap that contains no chemicals that could hurt or degrade the panels.
After that, use these steps to clean the panels:
- Fill a bucket halfway with warm water and a pinch of mild soap.
- Using a hose or another low-pressure sprayer, rinse solar panels.
- Scrub the panels gently with soapy water and the scrubber to remove any debris or buildup.
- Remove any soapy water from the solar panels by thoroughly rinsing them.
- Allow the panels to air dry.
And there you have it; it’s a rather simple procedure that requires little more than a scrubber capable of reaching across your panels. However, keep in mind that solar panels grow extremely hot on hot summer days. You could wish to tidy first thing in the morning or last thing at night.
Another Option: Have them Serviced
If you don’t feel like doing the work yourself, you can hire an expert to service the panels. If you bought solar panels straight from a manufacturer, visit the manufacturer’s website to see if there are any service providers in your area.
Many providers offer servicing plans in conjunction with the purchase of the panel. Regular maintenance and upkeep may be included in these programs (depending on the supplier). They could also include routine inspections to verify that the panels are operating as efficiently as possible.
We, on the other hand, would not choose this option if it were up to us. These services could end up being quite costly. You’re basically spending money in order to save money on your electricity bill afterwards. You’re obliterating your own cost-cutting efforts! And, because cleaning solar panels isn’t a particularly difficult process to begin with, we wouldn’t advocate hiring someone to do it in most cases.
Keep in mind that you’re simply comparing the cost of maintaining the panels to the cost of generating more energy with cleaner panels. These expenses will almost never be offset.
Does it make a difference if you clean your solar panels?
Solar panels are rarely affected by dirt, and their performance is usually unaffected.
This is because, in most Australian homes, rainfall is sufficient to keep solar panels clean. Grime will accumulate, but there will be enough rain to wash much of it away.
Cleaning panels in addition to what rain does naturally will increase panel production because they will have even less dirt on them on average, but it won’t help much.
Cleaning solar panels only increased their output by about 1%, according to a study conducted in Tucson, Arizona, in the United States. This is in a city that receives only a little more than half as much rain as Adelaide, Australia’s driest capital.
This does not imply that cleaning panels will merely enhance average performance by 1% in your region. You might live in a filthy neighborhood or have a flock of birds attempting to transform your roof into a future guano mine. However, I believe that cleaning solar panels twice a year will only increase average output by about 2% for most Australian families.
How often should solar panels on the roof be cleaned?
Cleaning solar panels every 6 months to a year is generally recommended to keep the panels’ productivity, efficiency, and effectiveness. Cleaning may be required more frequently depending on where you live and the degree of grime and pollutants.
Maintain Your New Solar System with Green Convergence!
A solar power system from SunPower is a fantastic investment. With SunPower’s 25-year warranty, you won’t have to worry about ongoing maintenance once you start saving money with solar, however we do recommend keeping your panels clean over time to get the most out of them. Investment in a house comes with certain maintenance charges, as does investing in a car, and investing in a solar system comes with specific polishing operations.
Is it possible to clean solar panels with vinegar?
Consider using vinegar to clean your solar panels in a natural and sustainable way.
We’ve all heard about how vinegar may be used as an all-purpose cleaner. Plus, it’s easy to find in your pantry. Though it may appear that vinegar is incapable of doing the job, it is an excellent element for keeping metal and crystal artifacts as clean as new.
You’ll need to dilute it a little to make a cleaning solution. Combine 1/4 cup vinegar, two cups water, and half a teaspoon liquid detergent (or any non-abrasive soap) in a mixing bowl. Put that in a spray bottle and you’ve got yourself a solar panel cleaning solution. As simple as that!
The vinegar aids in the removal of harder stains that may be more difficult to remove from the panels.
Can I clean my solar panels with a pressure washer?
Solar panels are a terrific sustainable energy source. There are numerous benefits to investing in a set of high-quality solar panels for your home, including low installation costs and ease of maintenance.
Solar panels are really simple to maintain. They just need to be cleaned a couple of times a year, with rainwater taking care of the most of the cleaning, so you won’t have to climb up on your roof to clean them.
There will be times, though, when you will need to clean your solar panels. Dirt and dust can quickly accumulate, reducing the efficiency of the panels, so you’ll need to roll up your sleeves and clean them.
It’s important to keep in mind that there are certain methods for cleaning solar panels. Using the incorrect cleaning approach can result in the panels being permanently damaged. So make sure you clean them properly every time!
Here are three things you shouldn’t do to clean your solar panels:
1. Make use of a high-pressure washer
Pressure washers are fantastic for cleaning the outside of your house, such as the roof and gutters, but they should never be used on solar panels. Yes, their tremendous reach and pressure make cleaning big parts of solar panels more easier, but there is a risk that the panels will be damaged.
Brushes with a hard bristle
Cleaning a solar panel using a brush and soapy water is one of the most effective methods. However, you must use the suitable brush, which should be a soft bristle brush, to avoid damaging the panels’ surface.
Hard bristle brushes, on the other hand, may cause surface damage, reducing efficiency or even preventing the panels from using energy. Even if you want to go lightly, never use a harsh bristle brush because it will almost certainly inflict permanent damage.
You can remove streaks with a soft sponge or cloth, or you can use a squeegee if necessary.
3. Cleaning fluids that are powerful
Because some of the dirt and grime on solar panels might be difficult to remove, it’s common to assume that stronger cleaning solvents will work better. Using cleaning products with powerful components, on the other hand, may harm the glass panels and diminish their efficiency dramatically.
Instead, for dishwashing, opt for liquid soap rather than anything with a high alcohol level.
Is it possible to use Windex on solar panels?
Windex is a low-cost glass cleaner that leaves a few streaks and smudges behind. Windex may be great for keeping a glass-covered solar array clean and working at optimal efficiency due to its easy application and removal.
What’s the best way to get algae off solar panels?
Once lichen has taken hold of the glass on the top of the solar panel, it might be difficult to remove. When you scrape lichen off a solar panel up close, you’ll notice that the lichen is built in layers. The top layer (the flower) is rather simple to remove. Because this is sometimes colored, it may appear that once the flower is removed, the panel is clean from the ground. However, if you look closely, you can see that the majority of the lichen’s underside, which has the appearance and consistency of sticky mud, remains, indicating that your cleaning day has just just begun.
The first thing to know about lichen is that it comes in a variety of shapes and colors. Lichen can readily be mistaken for bird droppings from the ground. Lichen, on the other hand, is much more difficult to remove. We’ve only ever been able to totally remove lichen from a solar panel by hand, scrubbing really hard and only using water.
We found chemical solutions that claimed to be recommended by solar panel manufacturers when investigating this topic, but we haven’t tried or validated any of them.
In damp, warm settings where algae is plentiful, lichen finds the conditions it needs to develop, and solar panels suit the bill beautifully. If you notice a dazzling green liquid or something that looks like seaweed on your solar panels, it’s most certainly algae.
Because algae feeds the lichen, keeping the panels free of algae reduces the risk of a lichen infestation.
What should you do? – Lichen is bad for solar panels; the less lichen on them, the better. Lichens will limit power outputs and may cause hot spots on the panels, which is bad for both power generation and panel longevity. If the scenario remains unchanged, with warm, damp conditions and algae, the lichen will eventually cover the solar panels completely.
a smidgeon of lichen If your solar panels have only a little quantity of lichen on them, a semi-regular cleaning program may be enough to keep the situation under control. Long fibreglass window cleaning poles, no chemicals, and cleaning with ‘pure water’ are the best methods (that we know of).
a large amount of lichen If there is a lot of lichen, we recommend renting a scaffold and cleaning them by hand, paying to have them cleaned, or, if you’re confident, utilizing chemical treatments. In any case, be warned that manually cleaning lichen off solar panels is time-consuming and difficult. We don’t believe the amount of pressure required to properly clean the panels of lichen could be applied from ground level or even from a scaffold using only pure water and poles.
Cleaning off the lichen will be worthwhile; not only will you observe an immediate improvement in power generation, but your panels will also appreciate you. If the algae problem can be controlled once the area has been cleaned, the lichen problem will be controlled as well. After that, a decent window cleaner with a pure water solution could be able to assist in keeping them clean.