Definitive Guide to Solar Panel Cleaning

With every passing year, more home and business owners are shifting to solar power.

If you have had solar panels for a year or so, you may have noticed their energy production varies every month because of factors like the weather and the changing of the sun’s position. But when you start to see a reduced output when the weather is good and nothing unusual may have caused the dip, then dirty panels could be a factor to look at.

It’s a good idea for an occasional solar panel cleaning to freshen up your solar panels as it is exposed to a lot of outside pollutants.

Why Clean Your Solar Panels?

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Solar panels are exposed to the sun in order to produce energy. Since it is situated outside all day every day, solar panels are vulnerable to smog, dirt, dust, and other debris that may hinder the solar array from having its optimal performance. These elements can block a significant amount of the sun’s rays reducing the system’s efficiency that’s why cleaning your solar panels should happen at one point.

Your solar panels need maintenance in order to work at their full capacity just like what you would do for car maintenance. You need to oil, maintain and clean your car so it will run efficiently. It is the same with your solar panels as it gives you more power it will also be needing the clean it deserves for you to enjoy its benefits.

Not sure when to begin or how to tell if your panels need cleaning? Then let’s go over the things you need to consider when it’s time to clean your panels like the cleaning method, what products to use, and the safety measures you need to follow.

When Will You Need to Clean Your Solar Panels?

Not everyone realizes that solar panels get dirty over time which makes sense as they are outside all the time basking on the natural power of the sun to convert it into energy and at the same time getting all the elements that may decrease its efficiency.

So, if you see one of these factors that are obstructing the UV ray and the glass panels of the photovoltaic systems then it’s a signal that regular solar panel cleaning should happen anytime soon.

1. Dust and dirt

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Dust and dirt are the common nemeses of solar panels. A study on the effects of dust on solar PV panels shows that deterioration of solar PV panels depends on the size and mass of dust particles deposits on PV module surface. As the mass of the dust particles increases, power output and the efficiency of the PV module surface decreases, and as the size of the dust particles becomes smaller, the power output decreases as smaller particles block more radiation on PV solar panels.

The study points out that there’s about a 6.5% decline in solar panel energy production even after a short period of the solar panels’ outside exposure without cleaning.

So you better not underestimate dust and dirt especially if your solar array is located in places that are dustier like farmland, main roads, and quarries. Its effect goes beyond just accumulating grimes.

2. Birds dropping

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Who would have thought that harmless birds that freshen up your property can block the current flow of your solar energy system? If you have trees nearby, they will not only drop leaves but also attract birds, and over the course of time, both of these will cause debris to build up.

Accumulated bird droppings are notorious for blocking the light from the sun and it gets really tricky to remove them especially if it hardens and sticks in the panels.

Removing it by spraying water to it won’t do the trick. You need a solar panel cleaning brush that has strong soft bristles to assist you in removing hard debris that has accumulated.

3. Rain

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Isn’t it that rain is enough to clean your solar panels? The answer is a yes and no.

Normal rainfall can easily rinse dust from solar panels but let us not be quick to conclude that areas with frequent rainfall require less maintenance.

There is more to it than just dust. We are talking about pollen, birds and leaves dropping, ash, smog, smoke in the atmosphere, and haze that when combined creates a layer of surface soiling that may or may not wash away by rain.

While areas with dry climates will face dust build-up more often and might progressively worsen in prolonged dry spells.

So whether or not it rains in your area, you can consider cleaning your solar panel on a regular basis to maintain and improve its energy production.

4. System’s location

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You should also factor in the location where the solar array is installed, to whether or not you should clean your solar panels. If it is situated by factories, busy highways, and filed where the wind always blows dust at them then it will be financially wise to have it cleaned especially if your area has infrequent rain.

What Product to Use in Cleaning Your Solar Panels?

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It’s important to note that damaging or scratching the glass of your solar panel is a major issue with reduced energy production. That being said, try to see cleaning your solar panels the way you would clean your car.

All you need need to have is a bucket of clean warm soapy water or a water hose long enough to reach your panels, dish soap, an all-purpose non scratch dishcloth to wipe dust and dirt, and a set of solar panel cleaning brush that can scrub away grime and hard debris gently without a scratch.

It is essential not to use strong cleaning fluids as these can streak and damage the glass.

Tips Before Cleaning Your Solar Panels

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Before you begin with your solar panel cleaning, avoid scratching the glass at all costs.

Here are some tips and tricks that you can gently use when cleaning your solar panels.

1. It’s important to see the manufacturer’s guidelines on how to clean your solar panel if there are any special instructions before you begin.

2. Remember that you can’t use a pressure washer to remove the grimes that have accumulated as this will totally damage the glass of your solar panels. Use a garden hose with little pressure to gently wash away the dirt and any other pollutants that haven’t stuck yet to the panel.

3. You need to realize that the solar panels are exposed to a high temperature every day. If you will start cleaning them, pick the time in a day that is cool like early in the morning, late in the afternoon just before dawn, or if there’s a cool day to do it. You don’t want to get burned by hot panels or clean it with soap and water on a sunny day as they can evaporate quickly and may leave a smear or residue that can affect your panel’s efficiency.

4. Avoid splashing cold water on hot glass surface panels as it may crack.

5. Do not clean the wiring underneath. Clean the panel’s surface with warm soapy water and use a soft dishcloth or sponge to remove the dirt.

6. Avoid using brushes that have sharp brushes. Use a solar panel cleaning kit that won’t scratch the solar glass surface.

7. Bear in mind that in extreme weather conditions, heavy snow coverage may take several days to melt, ashes from volcanoes or fires are longer to dissipate, a thick layer of mud can’t be removed easily and extreme wind or storm may bring forth large debris. In this case, you may want to consider calling a professional to help you with your solar panel cleaning.

DIY Solar Panel Cleaning

For a DIY-minded, cleaning your solar panel shouldn’t be a complicated process nor should cost you so much. The best and the easiest way to clean solar panels is by spraying them from the ground up to the roof. However, should you choose to go on the roof, take precautions and always remember safety first.

For heavier build-up, here’s what you will need:

  • A soft brush and squeegee or an all-purpose dishcloth to gently scrub hard debris.
  • A water hose that’s long enough to reach your panels.
  • A bucket filled with warm soapy water.

Step 1: Rinse the solar panel with warm soapy water.
Step 2: Use the soft brush and soapy water in the bucket to gently wash the surface of the panels.
Step 3: Rinse solar panels with the water from the hose for the second time.
Step 4: Use a squeegee or a sponge cloth to wipe excess water to dry the panels.
Step 5: Repeat the process to the other panels until completely clean.

Solar Panel Cleaning Kit

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Regular cleaning of your solar panels is important to keep its system operating to its maximum efficiency. You can always hire a professional to deep clean your solar panels thoroughly.

But if you are set to clean it by yourself, aside from following the tips above carefully, you would be needing a solar cleaning kit that will assist you to remove minor debris on your solar panels without scratching them.

The Crown Choice set of brushes are just the right cleaning tools that will gently clean without a scratch. Check out The Crown Choice cleaning products for your cleaning needs.

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