Even though solar panels don’t have any moving parts and don’t require much maintenance, you should still clean them regularly. There’s a lot of dirt, particles and stains that can reduce the efficiency of your solar electric system. If you don’t know who to clean them, here’s a little guide that will explain proper solar panel cleaning and maintenance.
Why should solar panels be cleaned?
Solar panels do require regular cleaning, but you don’t have to do it often. Most of the dirt, dust or pollen that gets accumulated will get washed off by the rain. However, there are times when you should roll up your sleeves and get to work. For instance, if there are a lot of bird droppings on your dry panels, rain might not be able to wash them off completely. Also, if the area where you live rarely gets a good downpour, you also might need to clean your panels more often. For instance, if you have a 5kw solar system, you can lose anywhere between 5 and 10% of your panels’ efficiency if they’re not cleaned properly. This means that they will generate less energy, which will increase your utility bill in the future. So, in order to get the most out of your solar electric system, regular cleaning should be your priority.
How to clean panels properly?
Like always, safety first. Check your manual and properly shut down the system before you do any sort of cleaning. It’s always better if you can clean your panels form the ground. If that’s not possible, don’t climb onto your roof unless you have the skills and the appropriate safety gear at hand. It’s always better to hire professionals in this case.
If you decide to take up cleaning yourself, it’s best if you take a soft brush and a squeegee. Both are gentle enough not to damage your panels but efficient enough to do a good job. You can use a hose to let a gentle stream of water flow over them, use the brush to remove stains and dirt and then finish off with a squeegee to remove water. You don’t want to let your panels dry in the sun, especially strong summer sun because water will evaporate quickly and leave stains. Also, avoid using harsh abrasive brushes, otherwise, you can scratch the glass and affect its performance.
What products to use
There are many products you can use to clean your panels. The best and safest path to choose is to contact your solar installers and providers who will give you the best information and recommendations. Most of them will say that the best solution is to use water and some soap, just like washing your car at home. To avoid scratching the panels, you should avoid abrasive chemicals. A gentle soap is usually the best option. Also, don’t use a high-pressure sprayer, since it can damage the panels.
How to remove oily stains
Oily stains are a bit trickier to remove. They can occur if you live near an airport, a factory or a major road with gets a lot of traffic. The best way to remove oily stains is to use isopropyl alcohol and apply it directly to the stain.
How often should I clean my panels?
Most of the providers advise cleaning your system twice a year, even more often if you live in drought-prone areas and near sources of pollution. Regular cleaning can improve your electricity production by 5-6%, so don’t neglect it.
As you can see, all you need to keep your solar electric system in top shape is to clean it at least twice a year and make regular visual inspections. This won’t be time-consuming or expensive, but your system will be more effective.